Xplorer Maps Provides Unique, Hand-Drawn Maps Through Collaboration with Nonprofit Partners

By Amanda Keith posted 08-18-2016 09:10 AM


Since 2010, brothers and co-owners of Xplorer Maps, Greg and Chris Robitaille, have set out to produce artistic, hand-drawn maps of significant historic sites and destinations to help connect visitors to a sense of place. Chris, a world-renowned artist who has spent time in Kenya, China, Abu Dhabi and Thailand, uses his artistic talent for illustration to create maps that are aesthetically pleasing and serve as recognizable representations of specific places.

Xplorer Maps has also specialized in producing national park and public land maps. Greg Robitaille explained that he and his brother have always been drawn to parks and when he approached Chris about the idea for a company, he had been inspired by time spent in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks and wanted to create maps to inspire others as well.

“We’re trying to draw people to these special places that they haven’t been to before,” Greg said, “or to places they’re familiar with and hope to reconnect with.”

The maps themselves are not meant for backpacking or strict navigational use, but for educational and interpretive purposes. According to Greg, they’re used more as “conversation pieces” that consumers purchase to hang in their home, cabin or office.

Since 2011, Xplorer Maps has created twelve national park and public land maps of places such as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Capitol Reef National Parks.

Greg explained that the process of creating each of these maps takes between 3 – 12 months because of the custom illustrations and the research involved in preparing the map. To start, they work with the public land agencies and partners to ensure that the content of the map is unique and relevant. “Instead of us trying to tell the story of the park by ourselves, we work with the nonprofits,” Greg said. “They live it and breathe it, and see it every day.”

To better understand the significance of the place, Xplorer Maps surveys the nonprofit partner and asks questions such as, “What do you want the focus of the map to be,” and “What are the five most iconic images of your public land?” They then seek to understand if the most significant qualities of the public lands are cultural, natural or historical and if there are specific species or landmarks that help to tell the story of the place.

According to Patrick Renau, Retail Manager with the North Cascades Institute who is working with Xplorer Maps on an upcoming map for North Cascades National Park, the company’s process in developing the map is thorough: “They are meticulous in trying to make sure that what ends up on the map is what we want,” Renau said.

Not only does Xplorer Maps strive to make the map geographically representative, but when possible, they include the unique flora and fauna and identify iconic leaders who have granted significance and interest to a specific place.

Just this week, Xplorer Maps announced the release of two new maps – Badlands National Park and Black Hills National Forest. To view these as well as their other public land maps, visit their website at