Beautifully color-coded watershed maps of America

Originally published at:

I did not know it was possible to sell .jpgs on Etsy. That’s what these are, right? Not adorable needlepoints?


No, no no! The very idea of selling .jpgs as “handmade items” is absurd!

They’re .pngs.


Alas, no watershed maps of Canada…probably too difficult to render…especially the further North you get.


Interesting, I had no idea how closely (kinda) the watersheds matched the political boundaries of the United States.

The Northeastern watersheds are these tiny little things. Then slightly bigger as we go down the Eastern seaboard, but they’re packed as narrow horizontal squares, just like the states (in contrast to the long, vertical New York state watersheds), then some great big, vertical ones that basically match California, and finally the gigantic Midwest and Central US.


The data are there - in some areas the digital elevation models do not have sufficient resolution to resolve watershed boundaries perfectly, but for a national scale picture it’s more than adequate. It’s available through, just search for the National Hydro Network.

Or go straight to the source:

USGS: Maps and GIS Data

USGS: Global GIS Data

USGS: GIS Data and Tools

Yeah, my interest in this would be non-zero if the map was of North America instead of just the continental USA. Another example of a perfectly decent idea ruined because the creator thinks the world begins and ends at a national border.


If there is one thing that the US does way better than Canada, it is making (better) geospatial data available in an easily accessible and comprehensive format.


Or maybe the creator doesn’t give a **** about borders, but Canada doesn’t make this data available. And… wait for it… I’m not from the US.


Etsy tags them automatically as handmade, even though it only asks me if I made it or not. Sure I did.

1 Like

Nice idea and very pretty, but I already spotted one major error: The Red River on the border between Minnesota and North Dakota flows north to Hudson Bay (and then on to the Arctic Ocean). The map seems to include it in the Great Lakes watershed area which ends up in the Atlantic. Can this be an error from the “official” data or just a function of the “national borders” problem mentioned here (i.e., that water from the US can NOT be permitted to flow into Canada!)?

1 Like

Yes, I presumed as much; if I was having a go at anyone, it was Etsy, not you. :wink:


Exactly what I was thinking. I’ve been looking for these types of maps for a while. Too bad it just cuts off rivers when they meander into (or from) Canada or Mexico.

I can see the start of my little St. John River! It just doesn’t finish…

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.