The importance of accurate and timely information describing the nature and extent of land resources and changes over time is increasing, especially in fast-growing urban areas. We have developed a methodology to detect changes in land cover using satellite images for the years 1997, 2002, 2012 and 2017. The categories of five-class classification in the study area were built up area, plantation, waterbody, agricultural land and pastureland. The maps showed that between 1997 and 2017, the amount of urban or developed land increased from 8.12% to 52.4% of the total area, while agriculture land, plantation, waterbody and pastureland decreased from the 91.88% to 47.6% from the entire study area. The results showed that the urban (highly built-up) area increased dramatically. Inversely, pastureland, agricultural land, waterbody, and plantation decreased obviously from the period of 1997 to 2017. The remote sensing and GIS technique used in this study proved to be efficient; the time was shortened for the analysis of the city extension; and it was discovered that it was a useful tool to evaluate the effects of urbanization on the basis of the satellite image of the given years. The results quantify land use, coverage change patterns in Debre Tabor Town and demonstrate the potential of remote sensing, and GIS tools provide an accurate and cost-effective means to track land cover changes along time that can be used as management decisions and guidelines.