I'm brand new to GIS and just discovered QGIS.

I've been trying to import either DEMs or LIDAR of my area from the following link: https://basemap.nationalmap.gov/arcgis/rest/services/USGSShadedReliefOnly/MapServer

  1. I added this to Data Source Manager\ArgGIS REST Server\New\
  2. Browse to the area I want to see (my home actually.)
  3. Click the new USGS DEM link in the browser of QGIS.
  4. Loads the DEM in view.

Problem is I can't seem to do anything with it when it comes to creating a Hillshade, etc.

Is there another plugin, something I'm missing, or another way to go about this?

I suspect it's displaying but not actually importing which may be the reason I can't work on it. I had the same issue with LIDAR for this area. I'm so new to this including terminology - it's probably something really simple but I'm missing it.

I think one method I found is in the Processing Toolbox\Raster Tools\Convert Map to Raster and then using the new layer it creates to create a hillshade. I'm still wondering if there's a "proper" method to import this data to work with.

  • Can you export the rest service dem to a local file?
    – Mapperz
    Dec 1, 2022 at 16:22
  • Are you asking if I can do this directly from the USGS Source? Probably. But I was trying to make it more convenient by surfing to the area of interest first then by clicking on the browser REST source, populating the viewport "automatically." Dec 1, 2022 at 16:45
  • You can use the National Map to find and download DEM and LiDAR data for your desired AOI. apps.nationalmap.gov/downloader
    – John
    Dec 1, 2022 at 22:04

2 Answers 2


The following worked for me, Charles:

  1. Zoom to your area of interest.
  2. In the QGIS Browser Panel, r-click on ArcGIS REST Servers and select New Connection
  3. A new window pops up. Enter a name for the layer. Then paste the url for the layer, as shown in the screenshot below. Click ok.
  4. The new layer is added to ArcGIS REST Servers section, where you can browse to it by expanding. Drag and drop the Layers item with the little pixelated icon into the map.
  5. Voila! The shaded relief basemap appears. (Second screenshot)

Note that this USGS layer is delivered as a shaded relief view of a DEM. It is not a DEM itself; rather it was derived from a DEM at some earlier date by the USGS to give the viewer a 3-D representation of the earth's surface.

enter image description here

enter image description here


I am also new to this and trying to accomplish essentially the same thing.

USGS may have a better set of data available but the one you have shared the link to does not seem to be much good. Notice the giant hole in Lake Superior and other inconsistencies in various places.

If you happen to live in Tennessee this may be exactly what you need:


Otherwise just a good general oversight of the basics and you may need to look more locally at the State or District level for some better quality LiDAR DEM data.

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    Dec 1, 2022 at 22:26

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