By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor

BOZEMAN – Beartooth Publishing has won a cartography design award for its new Big Sky Area topographic and trail map.

The Bozeman-based company won the recreation and travel category in the Cartography and Geographic Information Society’s annual design contest, which is open to to all cartographers in North America. Last year its Yellowstone National Park map won in the same category.

Owned and operated by Will Robertson, Beartooth Publishing is known for its durable, waterproof recreation maps, most of which cover areas in Montana and Wyoming.

The company’s original Bozeman-Big Sky-West Yellowstone map also covers the Big Sky area, but at 1:100,000, is a much smaller scale than the new 1:50,000 map. The Big Sky Area map reaches from Storm Castle Peak at the north end, to Big Horn Pass Trailhead at the southern end.

Robertson, who lived in Big Sky from 1992-2000, has a degree in geography from the University of Colorado-Boulder, but says he taught himself how to make maps.

“When I moved to Big Sky I spent a lot of time looking over all the Forest Service maps and compiling for myself all the old maps and new maps together,” Robertson said. “After a while I realized that making maps was everything I’d ever done in my spare time anyway so I should make a job out of it.”

Today he starts each map by custom-ordering digital data for topo lines and water from Computer Terrain Mapping, a company that produces images based on USGS data. Then Robertson adds about 30 layers of information on top of that—things like roads, trails, lettering and boundaries.

The final product is printed on plastic, which is what makes Beartooth’s maps so durable and waterproof.

The company produces 17 different titles and sells more than 10,000 maps annually. They are sold at Gallatin Alpine Sports, Grizzly Outfitters, East Slope Anglers, the Cave and Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, and all over Bozeman. beartoothpublishing.com