I live about 30 miles north of Denver, Colorado – where there’s a metropolitan population approaching three million.  I own a 4×4 vehicle, but rarely go to the mountains and decided it was time to find a bug out location without having to go there.  Perhaps I should mention that I’m a 60 year old female, and my husband thinks the whole concept of survival is complete rubbish!  And while I own a GPS, I’m going to show you how to do this for free so you can prepare for a TEOTWAWKIsituation.

The USGS has maps that are scaled at 1:50,000.  The “New Generation” maps are not good at all.  These maps will have “information” and “ads” over part of the map.  That’s where you want to target….places where most people won’t be able to see on the maps they buy in the local stores.

I recommend you start with something that you know.  I’m going to start with my childhood home.  Once you can find something familiar to you, then we will advance to looking for a BOL that is unknown to you.

But first, here are the basic steps we are going to use, the examples will be below this.  Click on this link

Pick your state, then under “scale”, click on  24000 and search.   Note that there is a column for the date the area was surveyed.  The older the better as you want to be looking for mines, caves and springs.  Some of these survey maps go back to the 1800s!

Where it says “map name”, type in a city close to where you want to go.

Click on the far right hand column and the map will download.  Be patient, it takes time.  I have found that the circa 1980 survey maps are probably the best.   Note:  if the city you are looking for is not on the map, scroll to the outside perimeters of the map and look for other map names along the borders or in the corners, then download that map name.

You will want to download the USGS topographic map symbols and make note of the symbols for mine entrances and caves which looks like the letter “y” laying on it’s right side.  Don’t confuse mine shafts with mines and quarries. Next, find the symbol for spring or seep.  A spring is a blue dot and a seep is a short blue squiggly line.  Maps older than 1980 will probably not use these same symbols.

An older map, such as an 1893 map, will show you where towns were that are now ghost towns.  A great place to look for earth covered log cabins or ground cellars.  These maps will also show you roads and railroad beds that are no longer maintained.

Once you have found the spot on a topographical map, you can then find the coordinates, plug them into google earth and zoom in to see exactly what’s there today.