New methods allow the direct computation of flood inundation maps from lidar data, independently of discharge estimates, hydraulic analysis, or defined cross sections. One method projects the interpolated profile of measured flood levels onto surrounding topography, creating a smooth inundation surface that is entirely based on data and geometrical relationships. A second method computes inundation maps for any simple function that relates the water surface to the elevation of the channel bottom, exploiting their known, sub-parallel character. A final method theoretically combines the elevation of the channel bottom and the upstream catchment area for points along the thalweg, all defined by lidar data. The conceptual simplicity and realism of these maps facilitate data-based planning.