Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I buy Gem Trek maps?

Gem Trek maps are sold throughout the Canadian Rockies—at all visitor centres, bookstores, attractions, and outdoor retailers, as well as many other outlets and lodges.

In Calgary, Map Town (400 5th Ave. SW, 403/266-2241; Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm, Sat. 10am-4pm) carries our full line of maps and also ships and sells our online orders. Both Calgary Mountain Equipment Co-op locations across western Canada also stock our full range of maps, including both locations in Calgary and both in Edmonton. Atmosphere stores across western Canada have a curated selection of Gem Trek maps on racks.

You can also buy Gem Trek maps through Amazon.com and Amazon.ca, with direct links provided on our product pages.

For details on U.S. retailers stocking Gem Trek maps, contact East View Map Link.

For information on retailers in Europe and the U.K., please contact European distributor, Craenen.

Can you help me plan a trip to the Canadian Rockies?

Yes, we can. There are many useful links brought together on our Trip Planning pages.

For a good overview of the Canadian Rockies and a guide to the highlights, we suggest you start with our Canadian Rockies map.

Can you recommend a good day hike in the Canadian Rockies?

Yes, there are a number of wonderful day hikes in the Canadian Rockies that we have chosen as favourite hikes.

The most complete guidebook that includes descriptions of virtually every trail in the Canadian Rockies is the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide by Brian Patton and Bart Robinson. Local hikers consider this their “bible,” and most of us have at least one or two well-used editions on our bookshelves. This book and others are listed on the Canadian Rockies Guidebooks page.

Are Gem Trek maps available in digital format?

The short answer is no. The longer answer is that we have looked at the idea of making Gem Trek maps available digitally, but the numbers don’t work for us in terms of production (development) costs and projected sales.

There are a couple of side issues that also pop up every time we look at the digital format question—the issue of scale (Gem Trek maps are at different scales) and the issue of continuous coverage (Gem Trek maps do not provide “seamless” coverage), both of which issues would require a significant investment of time to resolve.

Will you be making any new maps in the near future?

We are not currently working on any new maps. There are a number of maps we could make, but there needs to be a certain number of recreational travellers to a particular area before the map becomes financially viable. Currently, we are kept busy updating our existing maps, as well as making sure these maps are on the shelves at retailers everywhere.

What are the copyright rules on Gem Trek maps?

All Gem Trek Publishing maps are copyrighted. This means that they cannot be photocopied, scanned, digitized or otherwise copied mechanically or digitally without the written consent of the publisher. To do so, (except for one copy for your own personal use (not club- or business-related use), is considered copyright infringement.

I’m new to maps. What are the scales on maps and how do they work?

Gem Trek maps are drawn to scale. You will be selecting a map based on the amount of detail you will need.

The terms “small scale” and “large scale” are somewhat subjective, but our driving maps are smaller scale (our Southwest Alberta & Southeast British Columbia map is 1:500,000), covering a larger area in less detail. Our trail maps are larger scale (many are 1:35,000), meaning they cover a smaller area but in more detail. Just remember—the larger the number the smaller the scale.

Are Gem Trek maps available for uploading into my GPS?

In most cases, such as with Garmin GPSs for example, the software for uploading maps into the GPS is proprietary. So, even if the Gem Trek maps were available in digital format, Garmin doesn’t make it possible for you to load them into your GPS.

You can enter waypoints manually in your GPS. Or, if you have OziExplorer, Memory Map, or something equivalent, you can load a map of the area into your mapping program, click where you want to set waypoints, then “trace” the trail manually to make a track. When you are finished, upload these waypoints and the track into your GPS.

What do the blue numbers mean that are placed around the edge of Gem Trek maps? When using my GPS with my Gem Trek map in the field, what map datum should I select in my GPS set-up?

The blue numbers around the edge of your Gem Trek map are UTM (Univeral Tranverse Mercator) numbers, which are an alternate grid to Latitude-Longitude. For comparison purposes, think of the metric system of metres and kilometres compared to the English system of feet and inches. The UTM grid is much easier to use once you get the hang of it and more accurate, because the divisions are all in tens.

You can easily set your GPS to operate in UTM, rather than Lat-Long, similar to selecting kilometres rather than miles. To do this, with your GPS turned on, in the Main Menu page under “Setup” (on the Garmin GPS), select “Units.” On this page, for Position Format, select “UTM UPS;” for Map Datum select “WGS 84” (corresponds to NAD 83); for Distance/speed, Elevation and Depth, select “Metric.”

For background information on how the UTM grid works and how to define points on the grid (grid references or GR) check this webpage: The UTM Grid – Map Projections on the Natural Resources Canada website.

Why don't the UTM Grid References used in the Kananaskis Country Trail Guides synchronise with my Gem Trek map?

The Kananaskis Country Trail Guides use grid references on the NTS government topographic maps, and many of these NTS maps (the ones published before 1983) are based on NAD 27 (North American Datum from 1927). All Gem Trek maps are based on NAD 83 (datum from 1983), which is a more up-to-date representation of the shape of the earth.

On Gem Trek’s Bragg Creek & Sheep Valley map, for example, to convert grid references from NAD 27 to NAD 83, on the Easting, subtract 80 metres and on the Northing, add 209 metres.

Depending on which Gem Trek map you are using, grid references on the Kananaskis Country Trail Guides will differ by about 200 metres. Or, a particular grid reference may not differ at all, if the edition is based on a NAD 83 government topo map. Unfortunately, when a grid reference is given in these books, the datum used is not noted.

If you have a GPS, you can figure out the conversion factor yourself for any Gem Trek map: With the map datum on your GPS set to NAD 83, choose a spot approximately in the middle of the Gem Trek map and enter the full UTM coordinates for that waypoint (not just the 6-number grid reference) in your GPS. Then set the map datum in your GPS to NAD 27. Write down the two different waypoints, then add or subtract to calculate what the difference in Easting and then Northing is in metres, and in which direction (east or west, and north or south).

How do I notify Gem Trek of a change or omission on one of your maps?

We welcome all feedback. Our maps have evolved and improved through the years based on input from map-users. If you know of any changes—a new backcountry lodge, a decommissioned backcountry campground, or a difference in location for trails, roads or services shown on one of our maps, we would like to hear about it.

Please email us with as many specifics as possible. If you have the trail waypoints and a track from your GPS, save it as a .gpx (GPS Exchange) file and email it to us with the details.