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.
Creating beautiful, user friendly maps of extraordinary places for people who love to explore the outdoors is our passion, our mission and our reason for being.
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.
Purple Lizard Maps was founded in 1997 by award-winning cartographer, Michael Hermann, with a mission to make beautiful recreational maps to help people make their own adventures in the large swaths of public land around them.
Michael's passion for mapping was born in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, the deserts of Arizona, the mountains of Colorado and Utah and many points in between. Michael moved around a lot, and spent most of his time exploring the hills searching out places to do remote hikes, climb on big rocks, backcountry snowboard, launch kayaks, ride mountain bikes and 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 in the 1980s, 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 digital cartographers in America.
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 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 award winning Historic Atlas of Maine. He redesigned the campus maps for Penn State University; is a past president of NACIS (North American Cartography and Information Society) and past president of the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education at the University of Southern Maine. In Pennsylvania he has served on the Board of the Lower Rail Trail and the Mount Nittany Conservancy. Purple Lizard gets their hands in a few other projects as well - they mapped out the first IMBA Epic Mountain Bike course in Pennsylvania in the 1990s; they design and produce the Appalachian Trail Maps for the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, and they produce the maps for the Leadville 100 Race Series and the TranSylvania Epic.
Michael's wife Justine joined Purple Lizard in 2013 as Purple Lizard's Director of Very Important Things. With a background in marketing and law, Justine navigates the legal side of the Lizard business and manages outreach, marketing and database management. She and Karma the Adventure Dog make sure the wheels roll smoothly to publish new Purple Lizard Maps of special places every season.
Dave Gantz wears many hats (and backpacks) to bring more Purple Lizard Maps your way every day. He is responsible for coordinating map recon for new titles and also serves our rapidly growing Lizard Map dealer network.
Dave has been steeped in outdoor recreation from childhood. He was born and raised in Lancaster County and spent his youth canoeing, fishing, mountain biking, and camping. In college, after shattering his tibia and fibula playing soccer, he decided to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail as the final stage of his rehab. As an adult, Gantz has focused his rec time on long distance hiking and trail running. Dave has hiked over 13,000 miles in 20 states! In addition to the AT, Dave has completed multiple thru hikes on long distance trails throughout the country including almost all of the backpacking trails in Pennsylvania.
Dave’s main passion and his goal in his work are to introduce and reconnect people with the natural world. Before joining Purple Lizard as Trail Guru, Dave worked as a hiking guide and a guidebook author, for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy as a Ridgerunner, and for Appalachian Outdoors, one of Central PA’s leading outfitters.
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 who work with us on special assignments to help bring Purple Lizard's Maps to life.
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.
Eriks Perkons is a Lizard Map Field Contributor who does trail recon and data collection in remote locations. Eriks can cover a lot of ground in a short time on or off trail. He spends most of his free time in the woods and helps us make sure we get things right!
Purple Lizard could not do what we do without the help and support of so many of you -- folks on the ground in the communities we map who help us make sure we have up to date and accurate information. We work closely with members of the community, land managers and recreational user groups in the communities we map. We are committed to doing our part to help protect beautiful public lands and special places we map. We are proud to partner with local environmental organizations and community groups in many of the areas we map. We are also a proud member of 1% For The Planet.