Regional definitions vary from source to source. The states shown in dark red are always included, while the striped states are usually considered part of the same region called the Mountain States.

Map of the Rocky Mountain range in the Mountain West.

The Grand Mesa in Western Colorado.

The Painted Desert in northeastern Arizona.

The Colorado River, near Grand Junction.

The Mountain States (also known as the Mountain West and the Interior West) form one of the nine geographic divisions of the United States that are officially recognized by the United States Census Bureau. It is a subregion of the Western United States. The Mountain States are usually split up into two other regions known as the Northwest and Southwest. Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are considered part of the northwest as well. While, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah are considered part of the southwest as well.

The division consists of eight states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Together with the Pacific States of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, the Mountain States constitute the broader region of the West, one of the four regions the United States Census Bureau formally recognizes (the Northeast, South and Midwest being the other three). The word "Mountain" refers to the Rocky Mountains, which run north-south throughout Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, parts of Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. Arizona and Nevada, as well as most other parts of Utah and New Mexico have other mountain ranges and scattered mountains located in them as well.

Mountain Standard Time is observed in nearly the entire division, except Nevada (all but the stateline city of West Wendover), the Idaho panhandle, and most of Arizona. Lands within the Navajo Nation (Northeast corner of the state) observe daylight saving time due to the Nation traversing state lines. Arizona is one hour behind Mountain Standard Time from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November, because daylight saving time is not observed in Arizona.[1]

Phoenix is the largest city in the mountain states followed by Denver and Las Vegas.

Regional Geography[edit | edit source]

The Mountain West is one of the largest and most diverse regions in the United States. Most regional boundaries of the Mountain West are often looked at as the area from the High Plains to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Cascade Mountains. Although, the southern and northern portions of the Mountain West are often split into two sperate regions. The Southern portion (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Nevada) are often called the greater Southwest region. Meanwhile, the northern portion (Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana) are often either called Northwest states or the Northern Mountain West region.[2]

Terrain[edit | edit source]

The terrain of the Mountain West is more diverse than any other region in the United States. Its physical geography range from the highest mountain peaks in the United States, to large desert lands, and flat rolling plains in the eastern portion of the region. The mountain west states contain all of the major deserts found in North America. The Great Basin Desert is located in most all of the Nevada, Western Utah, Southern Idaho, and Southern Oregon. Wyoming also has a vast amount of desert land in the southwestern portion of their state, which is known as the Red Desert. The Mojave Desert is mainly located in California, but over half of the desert is located in southern Nevada, in the mountain west. Meanwhile, the Sonoran Desert is located in most all of Arizona and the Chihuahuan Desert is also located in most of Southwestern and Southern New Mexico.

Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona also have other smaller desert lands, which are part of the Colorado Plateau desert lands. The Painted Desert is located in Northern and Northeastern Arizona, and the San Rafael Desert is also located all over Eastern Utah. New Mexico also has other desert lands located in Northern and Northwestern New Mexico. Also, Colorado has large desert lands on the Colorado plateau in Northwester, Western, and Southwestern Colorado. Colorado also has scattered desert lands in Southern Colorado, off the Colorado plateau. These desert lands in Colorado are located in and around areas such as, the Royal Gorge, Great Sand Dunes, Pueblo, San Luis Valley, Cortez, Dove Creek, Delta, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, Roan Plateau, Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado National Monument, and the Grand Mesa. [3] The San Luis Valley is well known as the largest high valley desert in the world.

In the far eastern portions of the Mountain West, there are the High Plains area of the Great Plains. These plains mainly consist of flat rolling land, with some Butte's and scattered forests located in these areas. Even though these plains areas are part of the Great Plains, they are not part of the same region. Reasons for this is that the High Plains receive very little rainfall and sit at high elevations usually about 3,000 feet. Many people view the High Plains as the point where you begin to enter the greater Mountain West region.[4]

The Mountain West also has some of the highest mountain peaks in America. Some of the more famous mountains in the Mountain West are Mount Elbert, Pikes Peak, Mount Evans, Longs Peak, Kings Peak, Wind River Peak, Cloud Peak, Wheeler Peak, Truchas Peak, Granite Peak, Borah Peak, and Humphreys Peak.[5]

Climate[edit | edit source]

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

A snowstorm in the Great Basin Desert.

Mount Elbert, the highest peak in the Mountain West.

The climate of the Mountain West is also one of the more diverse climates in the United States. The entire region generally features a semi-arid to arid climate, with some alpine climates in the mountains of each state. Some parts of the tall mountains can receive very large amounts of snow and rain, while other parts of the region receive very little rain and virtually no snow at all. The High Plains in the eastern portion of the region receive decent snow falls, but virtually very little rain at all.

The states of Nevada and Arizona are generally filled with desert lands and scattered mountain ranges. Much of Nevada receives little to no snow in the southern portion of the state, while Northern Nevada can receive large amounts of snow in and around the mountains, and even in the desert lands in Nevada. Arizona generally receives little rain or snow, but high elevations in and near mountains receive extremely large amounts of rain and snow. Northern and Northeastern Arizona display characteristics of a "High Desert", where the summers are very hot and dry, while the winters can become very cold and it can snow as well.

Utah is also generally large desert lands with mountains as well. However, the desert lands in Utah receive significant snow falls in the desert lands, and also large snow falls in and around the mountains. Colorado and New Mexico have very similar climates. Both states can receive significant snow falls off the mountains, while the mountains in both states receive extremely large amounts of snow. However, southern and southwestern New Mexico generally does not receive much snow at all, similar to southern Nevada and southern Arizona. The desert lands found in northeastern Arizona, eastern Utah, northern New Mexico, western and southern Colorado are also generally referred to as the "High Desert" lands.

The Northern portion of the Mountain West tends to be a bit cooler than the southwestern areas. Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana all receive significant snow falls off the mountains and very large snow falls in the mountains as well. The High Desert also exists in the northern mountain west. Southeastern Oregon, southern Idaho, and southwestern Wyoming have the Great Basin Desert lands located in them, which is part of the high desert.[6]

Major Cities[edit | edit source]

Rank City State Population Metro Population
1 Phoenix Arizona 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".1,601,587 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".4,364,034
2 Denver Colorado 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".610,345 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".3,110,436
3 Las Vegas Nevada 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".567,641 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".1,865,746
4 Tucson Arizona 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".548,555 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".1,023,320
5 Albuquerque New Mexico 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".528,497 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".857,903
6 Colorado Springs Colorado 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".399,827 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".626,227
7 Reno Nevada 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".220,598 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".420,000
8 Boise Idaho 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".205,207 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".585,207
9 Salt Lake City Utah 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".183,171 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".1,130,293
10 Billings Montana 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".105,845 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".155,000
11 Missoula Montana 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".66,788 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".109,299

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]


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