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US Geography and Maps

  • Joshua Tree National Park, California

Bordered by Canada in the north and Mexico in the south, the US is the fourth-largest country in the world, consisting of diverse regions that feel worlds away from each other. The eastern half of the country is characterized by hills and low mountains, whereas the interior of the country is marked by the meadows, flat fields, and valleys of the Great Plains. The Western US is known for mountainous terrain, similar to northerly Alaska and volcanic Hawaii. 

Mountains make up distinct portions of the nation, from the ancient Appalachian Mountains in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west. The American Rockies are taller and more dramatic than their eastern counterparts due to age, with their famous snow-capped ridges passing through Yellowstone, Royal Gorge, and the ski pistes of Colorado, Utah, and Idaho.

However, few mountains are as impressive as the glacial-peaked massifs of Alaska along the Brooks, Alaskan, and Aleutian ranges. The tallest peak in North America lies in Alaska’s Denali National Park, where towering Mount Denali’s stands at a proud 6,190m. 

Heading the opposite way into the ground, the US is equally famous for its canyons. The jagged crevices of the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Palo Duro Canyon stretch in unexpected ways into the earth as rock is contorted from thousands of years of erosion and weathering. 

Snaking through these various topographies are numerous rivers with impressive ecosystems, notably the long stretches of the Mississippi River, Rio Grande, and Colorado River. The US is also known for its freshwater lakes, particularly the vast shores of the Great Lakes, Lake Tahoe, and Lake Powell. 


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