I am working on an application that requires the elevation at a given lat/long coordinate for lots of closely spaced coordinates along any given irregular path. (The path is a trace of a glider/hang-glider flight.)

I could use SRTM/GTOPO30/GLOBE data but I only need small (but arbitrary) sections of the world at any one time so I'd like to avoid storing a DEM database locally.

There is also Google's elevation API (for use with their maps) but it has a usage limit of 2500 requests a day whereas my data can be tens of thousands of points. Plus querying a server so many times for closely spaced locations seems like a waste a bandwidth.

So, ideally, I'd like a tile server for small DEM tiles. I found this http://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=1b48cd3b6276416784fe90a68c580a89 but the ArcGIS API guide doesn't contain any useful info about it. Has anyone actually used it? Are there any other similar services?


7 Answers 7


Another api that you can query instead of google's is the US Geological Survey Elevation Query. Information about their service can be found here:


A request looks like this:


  • As of December 2015, that URL throws a 500 error. Looks like it's gone. Commented Dec 12, 2015 at 3:44

Esri has an Elevation SOE that can be accessed via REST. enter image description here


It seems to be down at the moment, but I think http://www.heywhatsthat.com/ might provide that service, and if he doesn't he might open to the idea. Cache of the FAQ page here.

enter image description here

  • The source code of the profile page points to a very interesting javastring script, which could be customized I think (not trivial, but feasible). Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 1:38

Maybe, MapQuest Open Elevation Service can help http://open.mapquestapi.com/elevation/

I don't find informations about a query limitation after a quick search about this.


MapZen has data on their website and AWS S3 that's great. THey have many formats. I like the Terrarium PNG format You have to decode the RGB Values using this formula. (red * 256 + green + blue / 256) - 32768 You can use MapBox Raster Tile Query https://github.com/mapbox/raster-tile-query or another library to read the RGB values out of the RGB. I've displayed them in Leaflet and OpenLayers nicely and even color coded the elevation values. Here's a link https://mapzen.com/documentation/terrain-tiles/use-service/ You can access the data without API key from the AWS S3 Bucket. https://s3.amazonaws.com/elevation-tiles-prod/terrarium/{z}/{x}/{y}.png https://s3.amazonaws.com/elevation-tiles-prod/normal/{z}/{x}/{y}.png https://s3.amazonaws.com/elevation-tiles-prod/geotiff/{z}/{x}/{y}.tif https://s3.amazonaws.com/elevation-tiles-prod/skadi/{N|S}{y}/{N|S}{y}{E|W}{x}.hgt.gz

  • The nice thing about this is that you can download the data make an mbtiles or geopackage and have it offline Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 21:08

you can see here: elevations soe 10.1 Esri http://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=60bf17f2d59441839135adc25654a7d9 or my soe 10.1 if you need also other methods of ISurface (LoS, Locate, Countour ect) http://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=1c96538fa81948efb5a2436532964def


Mapzen has some tile sets, including a nice elevation viewer here (info here), which shows grayscale elevation tiles with dynamically locally-adjusted contrast.

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