How To Create Garmin Topo Maps - Part 5 - Points of Interest

Author: Dan Blomberg | Last updated June 15th, 2008 at 09:40am


The 4th part of this tutorial details where to get and how to process points of interest data.  This includes airports, summits, towns, rapids, etc.  In this tutorial we will download thousands of points of interest that would normally be included on topographic maps.  The data comes from the USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS).


Some software is required and some is reccomended for downloading and processing points of interest:

Downloading & Processing The POI Data

Downloading and processing that data is very easy thanks to GPSFileDepot's GNIS Processing program.  There are a few requirements though.  You must have PostGIS installed and setup (great tutorial here) and have FWTools installed.  After this download GNIS Process and install that.

  1. Open GNIS Process
  2. Select "With Internet"
    Note: If you select without internet the program will run but you will not be able to download or process GNIS data.  You will only be able to edit settings.
  3. Now select the state you want to download data for from the drop down menu.
  4. Now select the output folder (should be your GNIS folder)
  5. Now click "All At Once" in the lower right corner.
  6. A status window will pop up and tell you what its doing.  Give it a little time and soon you will have a GNIS shapefile in your GNIS folder.

Final Data Preparations

Now that you have a GNIS shapefile we have to make sure its ready to be used by our processing program(s).  This section is split into GPSMapEdit and Global Mapper.

Global Mapper

The shapefile is all ready for Global Mapper.  No modification is needed.


The data needs some processing so that GPSMapEdit can use it.

  1. Open the gnis.shp file in GPSMapEdit
  2. Click the "From Field" tab and then the MP_TYPE column:
  3. Click "Next"
  4. Make sure the "Name" column is highlighted
  5. Click "Next"
  6. Make sure the datum is WGS84.
  7. Click "Next"
  8. Click "Finished"
  9. Click File>Save map as
  10. Save it as in your gnis folder

What's Next?

Next we will get all the different types of Federal Lands from reservations and national parks to military bases.

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