Mapping Grand Canyon National Park


Thursday, February 28, 2019


Memorial Union, Arizona Ballroom (Room 221)
301 E Orange St, Tempe, AZ 85281


Tom Patterson

Presentation Abstract

Four recently published maps of Grand Canyon National Park that owe their design inspiration to renowned mapmakers of the twentieth century, a relationship that I will explore.

The first map, the “South Rim Pocket Map,” targets the majority of visitors who go only to the South Rim and stay there for four hours or less. I based this map on the 1972 “New York Subway Map” by Massimo Vignelli, which distorts geography in order to squeeze information into tight geographic areas. Out of necessity I did likewise for the “South Rim Pocket Map,” which had a print run of three million copies last year.

My next map, “Hiking Below the Rims,” draws inspiration from Brad Washburn’s “Heart of the Grand Canyon” published in 1978 by National Geographic. I used a digital technique called texture shading to mimic the Swiss-produced rock hachuring found on Washburn’s map.

Up next in my talk is a map of the entire canyon made for the official park brochure. It features natural colors similar to those developed in the 1950s by USGS cartographer, Hal Shelton.

I will wrap things up with a panorama of the Grand Canyon that borrows a clever idea from late Austrian panoramist, Heinrich Berann. I warped a digital elevation model on a convex arc to create a hybrid 3D scene featuring a conventional map in the foreground and a panorama in the background. You can decide if it works.


Panorama map of the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
South Rim Panorama Map