GPX Files - How to Use
After you have purchased, downloaded and saved the GPX file to your computer it is yours to use any way you like.
The most common use will be to load the GPX file into your favorite mapping software where you can view it on the map and get familiar with the route. When you are ready to go out into the great outdoors and use your GPS information, you can use your mapping software to import the information to your GPS.
There are many mapping programs and apps like Google Earth, Garmin BaseCamp, National Geographic Topo!, BackCountry Navigator and many others. There are also a lot of different GPS devices ranging from dedicated GPS units to smart phones with GPS apps. Each piece of software and each device has its own way of using GPX files. If you are unsure how to use a particular device or software, refer to the documentation for the device or saftware to learn how.
Don't zone out and go into automatic pilot when you have your GPS along. Keep in mind simply having a GPS with you loaded with all the points you had on your map back home is not enough to navigate and complete a route safely. You still need to think about what you are doing, keep track of where you are going and do not depend solely on the GPS as your one and only guide. Have a map along and know how to use it and keep a mental map of where you are and where you are going. Remember a GPS is a tool (not a guide) and you need to continue to think in order to make the best use of that tool. You are responsible for your own safety no matter what the GPS just told you.
Note - Manual Entry
Entering GPS data manually in software or a device can be a tedious process. But if someone gives you written GPS data you don't have a GPX file for it you may have to manually copy the information to use it. Before you start manually entering any GPS data into your gps or mapping software check to see if you know what coordinate system and datum was used for the information. There are 100's of map datums in use today but the majority are in the WGS84 or NAD27 datums. There are also many coordinate systems in use and the majority are in lat/lon (latitude / longitude) or UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator). Before entering the GPS data into your device or mapping software you need to be sure you set your device or software to the same datum and coordinate system used with the GPS data you are copying. If you set it to something different you may find the accuracy of your points to be hundreds of feet off. Ask me how I know this. :)