How to export USGS LiDAR as a DEM

The easiest way to turn USGS LiDAR into a DEM is to use Equator. Follow the short steps below to learn how you can turn LiDAR into a DEM.

Download California LiDAR

Step 1: Locate available USGS LiDAR

First, visit Equator at Then, open the Data menu on the left sidebar. Once the Data menu is open, click the + (shown below in red) to add Equator’s Global LiDAR Availability layer to the map.

Equator Global LiDAR Availability

This will allow you to see where USGS layers are available (throughout the USA).

Global LiDAR Availability Map

Step 2: Create a Site to Export Data From

In order to export the USGS LiDAR we will first need to declare a site (area) that we want to export the data from. To do this, use the Search menu or use the middle mouse wheel to zoom into a location where you want to export data. Once you’ve reached your location, click the New Site button in the bottom left (shown below in red).

Create a New Site

You can now make minor adjustments to your camera to ensure your entire site is within the site selection box. Once you’re happy with the site location, click the ‘Okay’ button below the site selection box (shown below in red).

Declare Site in Equator

Step 3: Export a DEM from USGS LiDAR

Next, in the Data menu on the left sidebar, scroll through the products and look for Digital Elevation Model (shown below in red). Click the Digital Elevation Model card, then click Generate.

USGS to DEM in Equator

Step 4: Download DEM File

Open the Layers menu on the left sidebar. Locate your newly processed DEM file and click the download button (shown below in red).

Download DEM in Equator

Congratulations! You have exported USGS LiDAR as a DEM file using Equator!