Everything you need to know about USGS LiDAR

Where to get LiDAR and other elevation products online for free
Download lidar
Montreal LiDAR Hill

What is USGS LiDAR?

USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) is the largest mapping agency in North America. USGS LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is data collected in the form of a point cloud provided by USGS.


USGS LiDAR point clouds have the structures and vegetation stripped away to produce a DEM. Using the Equator mapping platform you can get access to USGS DEMs easily through the Data menu.

Bathymetric LiDAR

Does the USGS Earth Explorer include LiDAR?

No, but the USGS Earth Explorer does include a variety of other data such as DEMs, land cover maps, radar and vegetation monitoring maps. USGS makes their LiDAR available through their LidarExplorer.

How to download LiDAR data from USGS

Go to USGS LidarExplorer and follow the steps below:

  1. Check “Show where Lidar is available
  2. Define your area of interest by holding down the Ctrl key, clicking and dragging to select an area
  3. In the right menu panel, open the “Lidar within AOI” drop-down and click on the “LiDAR Point Cloud (LPC)” folder
  4. Select download the individual LiDAR (LAS) files that you need from the folder

Visit our guide to get more detailed instructions.

LiDAR viewer
Download California LiDAR

How can Equator help me get LiDAR point clouds and DEMs?

Equator is a mapping platform that makes it quick and easy to get the highest quality data available on Earth. By selecting a location you will have access to a variety of data products such as LiDAR point clouds, 3D surfaces, contours, hillshades and more. Access all of this for free through the Data menu.

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What is Equator?

Equator is an online map-making software for civil engineers, architects, and designers. Equator includes thousands of built-in data sets, like LiDAR and DEMs and easy-to-use design and map making tools. Create accurate, professional maps in minutes!

Frequently Asked Questions

The quality of topographic data is measured against the 3DEP Lidar base specification for quality level. These are broken up into 6 quality levels, QL0 – QL5. Click here to see more information about each quality level.
You can get access to LiDAR point clouds, contours, DEMs, DSMs, hillshades and more on Equator.

DEM stands for Digital Elevation Model.

USGS stands for US Geological Survey.