Google Earth 101

Download Google Earth File

I have been doing my best to keep a central google earth file current with information on the rivers. For the most part this just means tracking put ins, take outs, and major landmarks. The symbols used in google earth are fairly obvious; P for parking, waves for a rapid, flag for a landmark, etc. I have been using a yellow colour to denote a river run and a red colour to denote either a portage, hike or backroads needed to access the river. The paths used for rivers and roads have a thickness of “5.0” and a transparency of 50%. The symbols have variable sizes, google earth seems to default to a rather large size for symbols that makes the map feel cluttered. I have been using both “0.7” and “1.0” for the size of symbols. If you were looking for work to do many of the older entries in the google earth file need to be be updated for the transparencies and the symbols sizes.

Once you have updated the google earth file you NEED to save it as “paddlingabc-rivers.kmz”. This file can then be uploaded to and should ALWAYS be located in the root of the website at, The reason is that the code for embedding the google earth file into the RiverWiki depends on this file always having the same name and being in the same location.

Google Earth and the RiverWiki

Once you have updated the google earth file and uploaded this file to the site you are ready to update the RiverWiki entries. The basic code stays the same and all you change is the lat/long and zoom in the code which tells the google earth file basically where to look and how close to look at it.

The easiest way to get the lat/long of any location in google earth is to use google maps and if you right click anywhere on the map you can select “What's here?”. This will show you the lat/long of your mouse in the search box. Note if you are using the newer version of Google Maps then the location of the lat/long is a bit different. You are looking for something that looks like this:

Notice the numbers “51.199206, -114.514698”. These are your lat/long. You need to copy and paste these numbers. Note, when you paste this number you have to make sure there are no spaces between the first number and the second number, you will usually have to delete the single space after the comma.

For the zoom levels you can just play with it, the range of numbers you will want is likely between 6 and 14 with 14 being more zoomed in and 6 being more zoomed out. Bigger runs, like a multi-day trip will require something like 8 while a small creek might need 12 or 13. Typically I use 10, 11, or 12.

Standard Sizes and Colours


Size: 5.0
Transparency: 50%
Rivers: Yellow
Backroads/Paths/Portages: Red


Size: 1.0

River Alerts

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