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Is there a better way to mark the highest elevation of a highway other then using a simple node with the tag ele=xxx meters?

The kind of place I'm referring to is known in hiker's parlance as the "height of land". It is not necessarily a mountain pass but does mark the highest point a highway (or trail) attains.

Furthermore, because the height specified in the "ele" tag is supposed to be in meters should one refrain from adding a units indicator (e.g. "m." or "meters")?

Thanks, Dave

asked 09 Oct '13, 03:50

AlaskaDave's gravatar image

accept rate: 16%

edited 09 Oct '13, 03:51

If you tag the elevation anywhere, it should be on a node as it doesn't make sense otherwise (puting contour lines into osm is not a good idea either). It is usually combined with natural=peak, but it is usable on any physical feature really.

Note that there are many different reference points that can be used to give the elevation of a point. If you know which one is being used, you should tag the specific ele:XXXX in addition to ele.

However, depending on your needs, OSM might not be the best place to store elevation data, because elevation is continuous whereas osm is discrete. Most often, elevation data is obtained from STRM and ASTER public datasets, and combined with OSM to get the desired output.

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answered 09 Oct '13, 11:12

Vincent%20de%20Phily's gravatar image

Vincent de P... ♦
accept rate: 19%


I wasn't wanting to add contours but I was hoping for something more significant than a simple node with an ele=1500 tag. At the high point of these highways there are no reference points, only the fact that the road is at its highest elevation. Thanks for your help.

(09 Oct '13, 14:46) AlaskaDave

As already explained by Vincent the highest point can be tagged as natural=peak. But this should only be done for somewhat important peaks and not every small hill.

(09 Oct '13, 14:52) scai ♦

Roads and trails often go through passes rather than over peaks. And they may well have an elevation marker on them. For hikers especially they have significance in trip planning. So natural=peak would not be appropriate. I see a few natural=pass tags in use but despite its low usage I think it would be appropriate.

Rereading original post and apparently passes are not specific here. I agree that tagging the high point on a trail or road is useful but can't suggest another companion tag to use in all cases.

(09 Oct '13, 15:13) n76

I'm fairly sure this point is an actual pass so the natural=pass tag should serve. Thailand is not as carefully mapped or as well known as most countries I've been in -- we're working to change that ;-)

Thanks again to all.

(10 Oct '13, 04:06) AlaskaDave

Simply add the tag "ele" (described here) to the nodes of interest on the trail/path/highway. If the node doesn't exist, add a new node on the way. This node does not need to be tagged with anything else, like natural=peak.

There are a few examples on the documentation page for the tag, and it seems that these use cases are the ones you described in the original question.

Also, ways may be tagged with the "ele" key, like airport runways, etc, as described in the documentation as well, provided they are "flat".

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answered 09 Oct '13, 16:26

MCPicoli's gravatar image

accept rate: 24%

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question asked: 09 Oct '13, 03:50

question was seen: 3,190 times

last updated: 10 Oct '13, 04:06

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum