Meet Purple Lizard

Department of Adventure

Purple Lizard Maps is an independent cartographic design firm dedicated to making beautiful maps of beautiful places.  Purple Lizard makes maps for people who want to get the most out of their recreation. Purple Lizard has been publishing its own unique brand of maps since 1997.

Purple Lizard Founder, Michael Hermann, Department of Adventure

Purple Lizard Lead Cartographer and Founder, Michael Hermann

Purple Lizard Maps was founded in 1997 by award winning cartographer, Michael Hermann, with a mission to make superior recreational maps representing excellence in design and functionality for those with a passion for adventure in the outdoors.

Michael's passion for mapping beautiful places was born in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, the deserts of Arizona and the mountains of Colorado and Utah and  many points in between.  Michael moved around a lot, and he was really good at exploring new environments in different places. He spent most of his time exploring the hills searching out places to do remote hikes, rockclimb, go caving, backcountry snowboard, launch kayaks, downhill skateboard, ride mountain bikes, motorcycles and put together expedition drives in 4wd vehicles. This made him the go-to guide for a variety of adventures in a variety of states.

Michael began contributing to guidebooks and magazines, which asked for maps that he would draw by hand. In 1992 he decided a formal education in cartography would greatly help his mapmaking, and he became one of the first group of digital cartographers in the US.

Michael received his B.A. in Geography from Penn State in 1995 and launched his cartographic career as a Digital Cartographic Specialist with Trails Illustrated/National Geographic Maps in Evergreen, Colorado.

Now Michael is among the leading cartographers working today. He has received numerous design awards from the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping and the Cartography and Geographic Information Society. In addition to his work with Purple Lizard, Michael served as the lead cartographer with the Canadian-American Center at the University of Maine where he led the development of the comprehensive and award winning Historic Atlas of Maine. He is a past president of NACIS (North American Cartography and Information Society) and the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education at the University of Southern Maine.

Michael, his wife Justine, Purple Lizard's Director of Very Important Things, and Karma the Adventure Dog, now work as a team to bring more Purple Lizard Maps of  special places to Lizard Map customers every year.  

Lizard Map contributors also include a small group of outstanding and adventurous cartographers, hikers, bikers, photographers, and overall outdoor explorers who work with us on special assignments to help bring Purple Lizard's Maps to life.

Lizard Contributors

Purple Lizard Cartographic Contributors include a small group of some of the best cartographers and adventurers anywhere who share our passion for exploring the outdoors.  Below is a bit of info about some of our regular contributors.

Cartographer Erin Greb of Erin Greb Cartography has always had a close connection to the outdoors and exploring. Growing up with acres of woods in her backyard in western Maryland and driving cross-country every year with her family on vacations, maps always played an important part in her life. As a second year art major who loved to hike in the mountains near Penn State, the lightbulb went off one day that she should transfer into Geography (’99) and learn to make maps like the ones she used in the woods (including the original Rothrock Purple Lizard map!). She then earned her MA in Geography at CU Boulder (’02) where she continued to hike and mountain bike in the foothills and Rocky Mountains. Now she continues to explore and design maps in Bucks County where she lives, and enjoys traveling back to Central PA and around the country for trail races. 



Intrepid Lizard Photography Contributor Carly Driebelbis brings a camera along for all her outdoor adventures and provides Purple Lizard with many of the fantastic pics you find on our website and Lizard social media sites.


Check out more of Carly's work Carly Dreibelbis Photography & Design

Dave Gantz is one of our Lizard Maps Field Contributors.  A self described hiking addict, Gantz is always the woods exploring, and helps make sure we know about all the best places !

Eriks Perkons is another of our fantastic Lizard Map Field Contributors. Eriks spends most of his free time in the woods and loves to help make sure we get things right!

How we do what we do

We build our maps from scratch. Digital scratch, meaning we use government GIS data to create our own terrain models, contour lines, and then add a heaping pile of cartographic linework sourced from every piece of information and every paper map we can find.. Then we get real, because these days lots of info available out there is, to put it kindly, not accurate.

Our maps are made by visiting and exploring most of the places illustrated, and by talking to a lot of people who live in the communities we map.  We add about 1,000 hours of real-world mapmaking to boil down the raw data and see what is truth and what is junk. This means figuring out where things are in the real world, finding special places to help you explore and bringing all the most important recreational data and information to you on a comprehensive adventure proof map that lets you get the big picture, disconnect from external demands, and reconnect with yourself and the outdoors.

The Mission

Creating maps of extraordinary places for people who love to explore is our passion, and we are also committed to doing our part to help protect beautiful public lands and special places.

We proudly partner with local environmental organizations and community groups in the areas we map. We are also a proud member of 1% For The Planet.