The higher point density and mobility of terrestrial laser scanning (light detection and ranging (lidar)) is desired when extremely detailed elevation data are needed for mapping vertically orientated complex features such as levees, dunes, and cliffs, or when highly accurate data are needed for monitoring geomorphic changes. Mobile terrestrial lidar scanners have the capability for rapid data collection on a larger spatial scale compared with tripod-based terrestrial lidar, but few studies have examined the accuracy of this relatively new mapping technology. For this reason, we conducted a field test at Padre Island National Seashore of a mobile lidar scanner mounted on a sport utility vehicle and integrated with a position and orientation system. The purpose of the study was to assess the vertical and horizontal accuracy of data collected by the mobile terrestrial lidar system, which is georeferenced to the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system and the North American Vertical Datum of 1988. To accomplish the study objectives, independent elevation data were collected by conducting a high-accuracy global positioning system survey to establish the coordinates and elevations of 12 targets spaced throughout the 12 km transect. These independent ground control data were compared to the lidar scanner-derived elevations to quantify the accuracy of the mobile lidar system. The performance of the mobile lidar system was also tested at various vehicle speeds and scan density settings (e.g. field of view and linear point spacing) to estimate the optimal parameters for desired point density. After adjustment of the lever arm parameters, the final point cloud accuracy was 0.060 m (east), 0.095 m (north), and 0.053 m (height). The very high density of the resulting point cloud was sufficient to map fine-scale topographic features, such as the complex shape of the sand dunes.