Tutorial importing data from Google Earth to Basecamp

Discussion in 'Garmin GPS' started by Sonder, Sep 2, 2022.

  1. Sonder


    Apr 7, 2022
    Likes Received:
    Hello well, I like to nerd out with my GPSsx and I know there are others that dwarf me using theirs I am sure. I am going to attempt a tutorial of what I do to calculate floating a river on my trips. I will be headed to Montana here in 14 days. I will be floating down several rivers in Montana from the Helena Region to the Eureka Region. A lot of these areas are remote, and safety must be number one.

    Here is an example the Kootani River in Libby Montana. I have planned a short float of 7.7 miles. The first step if I use Google Earth Pro (GEP) and trace out my path. We all can agree that maps are not always accurate. With that being said GEP aerial photos really increase my goal of calculating how long the float is. This will also at times show me shoals, rapids, and other obstructions. Now a huge word of caution is that you cannot totally trust these images for several reasons. They are not up to date satellite images. These images do not show enough high-resolution detail in some areas. You assume all risk being the end user. There are paddling websites out there that could better information like where strainers and or sweepers are. These are obstructions above the water and below the water that can potentially kill you.

    I have a lot of river miles under my belt I am not a professional coxswain, but I know enough to keep me safe. One final note always wear a PFD “personal floatation Device” when paddling!

    Let talk GEP, Garmin Basecamp, and import and export of data.

    Step 1

    Mark waypoints

    In this case they are put-in locations and take-out locations

    Kootani River Float 7.jpg

    Step 2

    Trace out a New Path in GEP

    I am fishing while floating down river. I have found 8-9 miles is my personal sweet spot to give me enough time to cover the water thoroughly while fly fishing. This in turn gets me to my take-out in about 6-8 hours.

    Kootani River Float 8.jpg

    Kootani River Float.jpg

    Step 3

    Export the GEP route as a KMZ file “save file as *.kmz”
    Kootani River Float 9.jpg

    Kootani River Float 10.jpg

    Step 4

    Import said KMZ file into Garmin Basecamp. You will have some house keeping to do making the file folder structure the way you want it. Make a new list folder and then a new list. In this case I have made a folder called Montana. I created another subfolder under that called Big Water and under that I created a “New List”. This new list in my example is called Kootenai River. In this example I will click one time on the list called Kootenai River. Then I will go up to file the select from the drop down “import into Kootenai River”. At this moment a dialogue box will pop up. You need to go select your new route you just imported from GEP.

    Kootani River Float. 4.jpg

    Step 5

    Import said KMZ file into the forementioned list. You will see it populate into Basecamp. Now you can edit your route to see if the route is going in the correct direction. In this excersize it needs to go down stream. Seems like a no brainer I know but it will make all the difference in the world when your using the “track” you created.

    When I am floating and fishing down the river, I can monitor my progress on the track. The track will tell me my speed and calculate how long it will take me to get to my takeout.

    I am not a rocket scientist, but a land surveyor. I enjoy mapping and thought someone else out there might enjoy this. Please, ask questions I will respond to them all. If anyone can see a better way to do what I am doing I am all ears!


    Sonder, Sep 2, 2022
  2. Sonder

    Nuvi-Nebie Moderator

    Aug 16, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Thanks for the very detailed description of your import procedure, I was wondering why you started with Google Earth Pro though, wouldn't it be easier to create a Track from the maps already on Basecamp ?, I'm guessing that either the maps you have don't show rivers at all or maybe they are not accurate enough, I created Tracks in Basecamp using City Navigator Europe and Open Street Maps of a river in the UK and although the CNE map shows some errors the OSM map seems to be as least as good as GEP if not better

    Nuvi-Nebie, Sep 2, 2022
    Sonder likes this.
  3. Sonder


    Apr 7, 2022
    Likes Received:
    Good question, well I use what I am most comfortable with any trip planning. Planning and calculating floats routes are particularly tough. The high level of detail that I need is tough to find at times. So, between the counties local GIS, GEP, and Basecamp I make it work.

    The other variable is how the water course will change over time. The changes in the water course are normally from natural weather phenomena and I would guess not a huge priority to have base map updates.

    The aerials are easier to read and quicker to tell if there is an issue most of the time.

    Aerials can be off also because they are spatially stretched across a given area.
    Thank you for the compliment and I just hope I helped someone.

    Be well,

    Sonder, Sep 2, 2022
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