kids encyclopedia robot

Mountain states facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Teton Range 1986
US map-Mountain states
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 Mountains of western North America.

The Mountain States (also known as the Mountain West or 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 generally are considered to include: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The words "Mountain States" generally refer to the US States which encompass the US Rocky Mountains. These are oriented north-south through portions of the states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. Arizona and Nevada, as well as other parts of Utah and New Mexico, have other smaller mountain ranges and scattered mountains located in them as well. Sometimes, the Trans-Pecos area of West Texas is considered part of the region. The land area of the eight states together is some 855,767 square miles (2,216,426 square kilometers).

A few Subregions exist within this region:

Regional geography

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 the area from the High Plains to the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Range. The southern and northern portions of the Mountain West are often split into two separate regions. The southern portion (Arizona and New Mexico) is often called the Southwest region, while the northern portion (Idaho and Montana) is often included in either the Northwest states or called the "Northern Rockies".


The bottom of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River in Arizona

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 terrain of the Mountain West is more diverse than any other region in the United States. Its physical geography ranges from some of the highest mountain peaks in the continental United States to large desert lands and 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 almost all of Nevada, western Utah and southern Idaho. Portions of the Mojave Desert are 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 much of Arizona, and the Chihuahuan Desert is located in most of southwestern and southern New Mexico, including White Sands and Jornada del Muerto. Colorado also has scattered desert lands in the southern and northwestern portions of the state, including the expansive San Luis Valley.

Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona have other smaller desert lands, part of the Colorado Plateau. The Painted Desert is located in northern and northeastern Arizona, and the San Rafael Desert is located in eastern Utah. New Mexico has other desert lands located in the northern and northwest. Colorado has large desert lands on the colorado plateau in the northwestern, western, and southern parts of the state. These desert lands in Colorado are located in and around areas such as Royal Gorge, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Pueblo, the San Luis Valley, Cortez, Dove Creek, Delta, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, the Roan Plateau, Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado National Monument and the Grand Mesa. The San Luis Valley is the largest high valley desert in the world.hi

In the far-eastern portions of the Mountain West are the High Plains, a portion of the Great Plains. These plains mainly consist of flat rolling land, with scattered buttes, canyons, and forests located in these areas. The High Plains receive very little rainfall and sit at high elevations, usually about 3,000 to 6,000 feet (910 to 1,830 m). Many people view the High Plains as the point where one begins to enter the greater Mountain West region.

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


Snow on the Great Basin Desert of Nevada
The Painted Desert in northeastern Arizona

The climate of the Mountain West is one of the more diverse climates in the United States. The entire region generally features a semi-arid to the 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 received very little rain, and virtually no snow at all. The High Plains in the eastern portion of the region receive moderate snowfalls, but very little rain.

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 snowfall, and there are large amounts of snowfall on and around the mountains. Colorado and New Mexico have very similar climates. Both states can receive significant snowfalls 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, and western and southern Colorado are 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. Idaho and Montana both receive significant snowfalls off the mountains and very large snowfalls in the mountains. The High Desert also exists in the northern Mountain West. Southeastern Oregon and southern Idaho have the Great Basin Desert lands located in them, which is part of the high desert.

The eight Mountain States have the highest mean elevations of all 50 U.S. states.

Time zones

Mount Elbert2
Mount Elbert in the Sawatch Range of Colorado is the highest peak of the Rocky Mountains and the Mountain States.

Mountain Time is observed in nearly the entire division, except Nevada (all but the stateline city of West Wendover) and the Idaho Panhandle. With the exception of West Wendover and Jackpot, Nevada, the entire state of Nevada, along with the Idaho Panhandle, observes Pacific Time. Daylight saving time is not observed in Arizona, except for lands within the Navajo Nation (northeast corner of the state) which observe daylight saving time due to the Nation traversing state lines. For this reason, most of Arizona is one hour behind the rest of the Mountain Time Zone from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November.


The Mountain States by mean elevation

Rank State Highest point Highest elevation Lowest point Lowest elevation Mean elevation Elevation span
1 Colorado Mount Elbert &1000000000000440119999914,440 ft
4401 m
Arikaree River at Kansas border &100000000000010110000003,317 ft
1011 m
&100000000000020726399996,800 ft
2073 m
&1000000000000339019999911,123 ft
3390 m
2 Wyoming Gannett Peak &1000000000000420900000013,809 ft
4209 m
Belle Fourche River at South Dakota border &100000000000009450000003,100 ft
945 m
&100000000000020400000006,693 ft
2040 m
&1000000000000326400000010,709 ft
3264 m
3 Utah Kings Peak &1000000000000412030000013,518 ft
4120 m
Beaver Dam Wash at Arizona border &100000000000006643999992,180 ft
664 m
&100000000000018592799996,100 ft
1859 m
&1000000000000345590000011,338 ft
3456 m.
4 New Mexico Wheeler Peak &1000000000000401330000013,167 ft
4013 m
Red Bluff on Texas border &100000000000008662415992,842 ft
866 m
&100000000000017373599995,700 ft
1737 m
&1000000000000314705839910,325 ft
3147 m
5 Nevada Boundary Peak &1000000000000400709999913,147 ft
4007 m
Colorado River at California border &10000000000000145999200479 ft
146 m
&100000000000016764000005,500 ft
1676 m
&1000000000000386110080012,668 ft
3861 m
6 Idaho Borah Peak &1000000000000386119999912,668 ft
3861 m
Snake River at Washington border &10000000000000216407999710 ft
216 m
&100000000000015240000005,000 ft
1524 m
&1000000000000364479199911,958 ft
3645 m
7 Arizona Humphreys Peak &1000000000000385180000012,637 ft
3852 m
Colorado River at Sonora border &1000000000000002133599970 ft
21 m
&100000000000012496800004,100 ft
1250 m
&1000000000000383046399912,567 ft
3830 m
8 Montana Granite Peak &1000000000000390350000012,807 ft
3904 m
Kootenai River at Idaho border. &100000000000005486399991,800 ft
549 m
&100000000000010363199993,400 ft
1036 m
&1000000000000335486000011,007 ft
3355 m
Mountain States Mount Elbert &1000000000000440119999914,440 ft
4401 m
Colorado River at Sonora border. &1000000000000002133599970 ft
21 m
&100000000000016459200005,400 ft
1646 m.
&1000000000000437986399914,370 ft
4380 m.


The Phoenix metropolitan area is the most populous metropolitan area of the Mountain States, followed by Denver, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. Phoenix is also the most populous city.

Downtown Phoenix Aerial Looking Northeast
Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Denver

The following table is a ranking of Rocky Mountain cities by city population.

The 30 most populous cities of the Mountain States

Rank City State 2014 pop est 2010 pop Change
1 Phoenix Arizona 1,537,058 1,445,632 &10000000000000006324292+6.32%
2 Denver Colorado 663,862 600,158 &10000000000000010614538+10.61%
3 Las Vegas Nevada 613,599 583,756 &10000000000000005112238+5.11%
4 Albuquerque New Mexico 557,169 545,852 &10000000000000002073272+2.07%
5 Tucson Arizona 527,972 520,116 &10000000000000001510432+1.51%
6 Mesa Arizona 464,704 439,041 &10000000000000005845239+5.85%
7 Colorado Springs Colorado 445,830 416,427 &10000000000000007060781+7.06%
8 Aurora Colorado 353,108 325,078 &10000000000000008622545+8.62%
9 Henderson Nevada 277,440 257,729 &10000000000000007647955+7.65%
10 Chandler Arizona 254,276 236,123 &10000000000000007687942+7.69%
11 Gilbert Arizona 239,277 208,453 &10000000000000014787026+14.79%
12 Glendale Arizona 237,517 226,721 &10000000000000004761799+4.76%
13 Reno Nevada 236,995 225,221 &10000000000000005227754+5.23%
14 North Las Vegas Nevada 230,788 216,961 &10000000000000006373034+6.37%
15 Scottsdale Arizona 230,512 217,385 &10000000000000006038595+6.04%
16 Boise Idaho 216,282 205,671 &10000000000000005159210+5.16%
17 Salt Lake City Utah 190,884 186,440 &10000000000000002383608+2.38%
18 Tempe Arizona 172,816 161,719 &10000000000000006861902+6.86%
19 Peoria Arizona 166,934 154,065 &10000000000000008352967+8.35%
20 Fort Collins Colorado 156,480 143,986 &10000000000000008677232+8.68%
21 Lakewood Colorado 149,643 142,980 &10000000000000004660092+4.66%
22 West Valley City Utah 134,495 129,480 &10000000000000003873185+3.87%
23 Thornton Colorado 130,307 118,772 &10000000000000009711884+9.71%
24 Surprise Arizona 126,275 117,517 &10000000000000007452538+7.45%
25 Provo Utah 114,801 112,488 &10000000000000002056219+2.06%
26 Arvada Colorado 113,574 106,433 &10000000000000006709385+6.71%
27 Westminster Colorado 112,090 106,114 &10000000000000005631679+5.63%
28 West Jordan Utah 110,920 103,712 &10000000000000006950015+6.95%
29 Billings Montana 108,869 104,170 &10000000000000004510895+4.51%
30 Pueblo Colorado 108,423 106,595 &10000000000000001714902+1.71%
The Las Vegas Strip


kids search engine
Mountain states Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.