Montana State University's MAPS Atlas Version 6.0 is a geographic information system (GIS) that provides estimates of 150 land and climate attributes for Montana. It includes about 140 colorful maps showing mean annual precipitation, dates of first and last freeze, mean monthly temperature, general soils and vegetation, and many other land and climate attributes for the entire state. In addition, users can combine attributes to create simple or complex custom maps.

MAPS Atlas 6.0 can be used with ESRI's ArcView GIS and ArcExplorer software. To find out more about MAPS Atlas 6.0, take a look at the information below and view the interactive maps. For further information about MAPS Atlas in general, return to the MAPS Atlas home page.

Here's How it Works

You may use the MAPS Atlas data in either ArcExplorer or ArcView GIS software. We recommend using ArcView because it is much more flexible and functional than ArcExplorer.

ArcView GIS is a popular desktop mapping and Geographic Information System (GIS) software with mapping and spatial analysis capabilities. With ArcView GIS you can create dynamic maps using data from many sources and across most popular computing platforms. It lets you work with maps, database tables, and business charts all in one application. ArcView GIS is available from ESRI, Inc. and from several dealers across the country. If you decide to purchase ArcView GIS, we highly recommend you take a 2-day ArcView training workshop, or take an ArcView course over the Internet through ESRI’s Virtual Campus.

ArcExplorer is a free, lightweight, GIS data viewer developed by ESRI, Inc and included on the MAPS Atlas CD. ArcExplorer can work on its own with local data sets or as a client to Internet data and map servers. As a stand-alone application, ArcExplorer allows users to display and query a wide variety of standard data sources including ESRI shapefiles, ArcInfo coverages, and SDE layers. The MAPS Atlas data are in ESRI shapefile format. With ArcExplorer, you can also display a wide variety of image formats, pan and zoom through multiple map layers, display data using classifications, symbols, and labeling, and identify and query geographic and attribute data. For more information on ArcExplorer, please see ESRI’s WWW site at This new version of MAPS Atlas combines all the data from the previous DOS version with a more powerful and flexible user interface through ArcView GIS or ArcExplorer. Although ArcExplorer doesn’t provide the extensive functionality of ArcView, it allows the MAPS database to be viewed in a Windows environment, which offers several advantages over the DOS version.

What is Included in the Database

The MAPS Atlas 6.0 CD includes both ArcView projects (*.apr) and ArcExplorer projects (*.aep). Both versions contain a main reference map of Montana showing the 18,000 MAPS cells and base map layers (known as themes) such as roads, waterways, sections and townships, along with sample maps created from MAPS attribute data. The ArcView version includes a colored map for each of the 150 MAPS attributes. The ArcExplorer version includes six sample attribute maps, and users can create additional maps for the other MAPS attributes.

System Requirements

MAPS Atlas 6.0 requires either ArcExplorer or ArcView GIS software running in a Windows© operating environment. The Maps Atlas 6.0 CD contains a copy of ArcExplorer version 2.0. If you plan to use ArcView GIS software, you must purchase a license from ESRI or an authorized ESRI reseller. ArcView and ArcExplorer run on Microsoft© Windows©98/2000/NT operating systems. The MAPS Atlas 6.0 files occupy approximately 185 MB of hard drive space.


Download MAPS Atlas version 6

Please direct questions or comments to Diana Cooksey, Department of Land Resources and Environmental Science, P.O. Box 173120, Montana StateUniversity, Bozeman, Montana, 59717-3120, (406) 994-5684