I am looking for elevation data organized by latitude and longitude for the Grand Canyon.

I have found USGS elevation data (http://nationalmap.gov/elevation.html), which is in the form of an ESRI Grid, which I don't know how to read. I was looking for a more straightforward data set of Longitude, Latitude, and Elevation.

Alternatively, if someone could describe how to read data from a .dbf file into matlab that would be great. I have tried to download Mapping Toolbox add on for matlab in order to use arcgridread command, but it isn't included in my matlab licence.

  • 2
    From your post, you sound as though you're playing around with both vector and raster data. These are very different formats and have different uses. What exactly are you trying to accomplish/gather? Are you trying to make a map? Are you trying to measure gorge depths? Do you have any background with GIS? These questions would be good to have answered. Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 19:53
  • Not really an answer, but have you gotten to at least this point: ![enter image description here](i.sstatic.net/skHhN.png) or do you need help getting there?
    – user3856
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 4:32
  • You already have it. Use QGIS to convert the grid to x,y,z Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 20:43

2 Answers 2


You can get digital elevation models (DEMs) from the ASTER GDEM project using the USGS Earth Explorer tool: http://earthexplorer.usgs.gov/

Select the region you want by clicking on the map. Under 'data sets', click 'digital elevation', select 'ASTER'. Then click the 'results' button. This will give you several images, you can click the footprint button to see where they are on the map.

You can then read the downloaded TIFF image into MATLAB using a geoTIFF reader such as this one: http://mathworks.com/help/map/ref/geotiffread.html

Fun fact: the Grand Canyon also seems to be a showcase for the ASTER project: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/aster20111017.html


Google Elevation API has worked for me a couple of times in a pinch: https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/elevation/start

You could also check out the county for whichever part of the grand canyon you're trying to look at's GIS to see if they have topo layers. You can normally buy them from them. Secondly, you could contact some state authority like the Arizona DNR or whatever and get it from them maybe

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