3D Mapping

Exploring New Mapping Methods

I love to explore new ways to visualize spatial information. Lately, I have been working on techniques to transform 3D models into 3D maps using ArcGIS Pro, ArcMap, ArcScene, Photoshop, and Illustrator.

I recently completed a 3D recreation map for Hood River, Oregon. Hood River provides extraordinary outdoor recreation opportunities, including windsurfing/kiteboarding, whitewater rafting/kayaking, flatwater kayaking/paddle boarding, mountain biking, hiking, and fishing. With so much to do, I thought a general reference map would be a useful tool for locals and tourists alike.

Using 3D Models to Enhance Spatial Awareness

The map is intended to serve as a visual tool, enabling people to quickly locate areas where they can enjoy recreational activities. For example, the map contains all the mountain biking trails of Post Canyon (one of Oregon’s top mountain biking destinations), along with trail ratings and information about the features they will encounter, such as berms, jumps, gap jumps, drops, and wooden ramps. Other information in the map includes launch sites for windsurfing and kiteboarding, kayaking and paddle boarding spots, local trails and trail heads, local parks, scenic viewpoints, waterfalls, and popular fishing locations.

Data Collection

The Map is a compilation of public domain data obtained via Federal, State, and Local government online and print resources. I supplemented existing trail data with data obtained in the field using a recreational grade Garmin GPS unit.

In field data collection is one of my favorite parts of any mapping project. For this endeavor, I mapped all of the non-motorized, motorcycle, ATV, and 4×4 trails on a mountain bike. Over the course of five days, I road about 120 miles and strained through roughly 25,000 feet of climbing. The end result is a complete trail dataset that I know is accurate and up-to-date.

Using ArcGIS Pro, I processed the trail data and then digitized it in Illustrator.

Achieving Relevance

I had initially set out to create a mountain biking trail map, but as it came together, I saw that it might offer increased utility as a general recreation map. While Hood River is a hot-spot for mountain biking, the adjacent Columbia River Gorge is world-renowned for windsurfing/kiteboarding, fishing, and sightseeing. As such, I expanded to include most recreational opportunities in the nearby area.

A Value Driven Approach

In creating the map, I sought to provide answers to questions that I have had while living here. For example, when I first moved to Hood River, I wanted to know which mountain biking trails had berms, jumps, and drops. Unfortunately, local trail maps only provide ratings, and online maps can be surprisingly time consuming to navigate. In this map, I have attempted to make information easily accessible. I provide information, such as trail descriptions, park locations, and fishing opportunities, in visual depictions that I hope can be interpreted quickly and effectively.

Project Highlights

Wandering Through the Woods

There is something oddly exciting about not knowing exactly where you are, especially in a forest. The Post Canyon trail network is spectacular. However, some of the 4×4 trails above the Green Point Reservoirs are not so easy to follow. At times, I believe they blend into old dozer lines from the Eagle Creek Fire. Other times, they simply seem to vanish, and I’d find myself walking through the forest hoping to find the trail again. To track some elusive trails, I spent considerable time comparing contours on a print map with those on my GPS. So much time in fact, that eventually the print map just gave up. Note to self, “practice better map care, and/or bring two maps.” Especially, if you’re wandering off the beaten path.

Incredible Views

The Columbia River Gorge is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen. The Gorge lies between snow-capped volcanoes and contains an abundance of waterfalls and breathtaking views. And Sunsets over the Columbia River are, well, as Sam Neill put it in the Hunt for the Wilderpeople, “Pretty majestical…” If you haven’t seen the Gorge, I highly recommend that you come check it out… when it’s safe to travel again.

If you’re ever riding the Post Canyon trails, be sure to check out this lookout. It’s off the 160 trail, slightly northeast of the junction of Riordan Hill Dr. and Forest Road 1006. Though not in the photo, Mount Saint Helens is also visible from this lookout.

I hope you’re all well and keeping safe. Wishing you all the best this holiday season!

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