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Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I buy a Gem Trek map?

In Calgary, Alberta
Map Town (phone (403) 266-2241 or toll-free in North America 1 (877) 921-6277) carries our full line of maps and always has stock, unless a particular map is temporarily out of print. (Map Town also fills and ships all of our on-line map orders.)
Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) store in Calgary carries all of the Gem Trek trail maps (phone (403) 269-2420). Do note that, for MEC, you must have (or must first purchase) a $5.00 membership to buy from them.

In Southern Alberta and the Canadian Rockies
In addition to the two Calgary stores listed above, a number of outdoor stores and bookstores in southern Alberta and the Canadian Rockies sell the Gem Trek maps.
For the names of these stores, please check our Dealers page, or
contact our Canadian Rockies distributor, Alpine Book Peddlers, (phone (403) 678-2280 or toll-free 1 (866) 478-2280).

Across the rest of Canada, in the USA, and Overseas
For the names of specific stores that sell Gem Trek maps, please see our Dealers page, or
contact our overseas distributor, Map Connection, (phone (403) 215-4058 or toll-free within North America 1 (877) 457-6277).

Will you be making a map for David Thompson Country in the near future? How about Crowsnest Pass or Mount Robson?

We are not currently working on any new maps for Alberta. 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, our only full-time staff member, Donna Nelson, is kept busy updating our existing 22 maps, as well as trying to keep the website up-to-date and doing all the other administrative tasks that running a small company involves.

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 several times, 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.

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, or 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.

When using my GPS with my Gem Trek map in the field, what map datum should I select in my GPS set-up?


What do the blue numbers mean that are placed around the edge of the map?

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."

If you're interested, you can check the internet for background information on how the UTM grid works and how to define points on the grid (grid references or GR).

Here are a couple of webpages from the Canada Map Office to start you off. You can also check the menu bar on the left side of either of these two webpages for more information on Topographic Maps and Map Datum.
The UTM Grid - Map Projections
Finding UTM Grid References

Why don't the UTM Grid References used in Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis Country Trail guidebooks make sense with my Gem Trek map?

Daffern bases her grid references on the NTS government topographic maps (we don't know why she still does this, either), and many of these NTS maps (the ones published before 1983) are based on NAD 27 (North American Datum from 1927). All of the 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, Daffern's grid references will differ by about 200 metres. Or, a particular grid reference may not differ at all, if she is basing it on a NAD 83 government topo map. Unfortunately, when she gives a grid reference, she doesn't say which datum she is using.

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 an error or omission on one of the maps?

We welcome feedback and notification of errors. Our maps have evolved and improved through the years based on input from map-users. If you know of anything new, such as a new backcountry lodge, a new or a decommissioned 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. (For security (virus-related) reasons, please check with us before you do this.)

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Where's Banff?

For a map and some background information on this very special part of the world, see our Where's Banff page.

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

Yes, we can. There are many useful links we have brought together on our site. We have included links to Parks Canada, various tourism bureaus, accommodation, guiding companies, outdoor clubs and mountain festivals.

For a good overview of the Canadian Rockies and a guide to the highlights, we suggest you start with our Canadian Rockies touring (driving) 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 favorites. See our list at Favorite Hikes.

You may also want to check out the trail recommendations in various guidebooks, such as the handpicked hikes described by Craig and Kathy Copeland in their wonderfully opinionated guidebook, Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies.

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.

These guidebooks, and many others pertaining to the Canadian Rockies, are listed on our Trail Guidebooks web page. You can purchase these guidebooks on-line or by telephone through Map Town, a large map and travel book store located in downtown Calgary.

What is the weather like in the Canadian Rockies at this time of the year?

Please click on the link to the following Weather Network webpages:
Banff, AB
Jasper, AB
Columbia Icefield, AB
Yoho National Park (Field, BC)
Kootenay National Park, BC
Waterton Lakes National Park, AB
Kananaskis Country, AB

For road conditions in the national parks, see Parks Canada's web page at Mountain National Parks Road Condition Report.
For Alberta road conditions, see: Alberta Road Condition Report
For B.C. Highway webcams, see: Southern Interior B.C. Highway Webcams

What are the copyright rules on Gem Trek maps?

All Gem Trek Publishing Ltd. maps are copyrighted. This means that they cannot be photocopied, scanned, digitized or otherwised 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.

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Last update: Sept. 19, 2015

Maps for the Canadian Rockies
Copyright 2000 Gem Trek Publishing 
Gem Trek Publishing
#322, 663 Denali Court
Kelowna, BC
Canada    V1V 2R3 
Phone (778) 402-4216
Map orders:

Handled by Map Town
in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Phone (403) 266-2241
Toll-free 1 (877) 921-6277
Fax (403) 266-2356