The Lowest Point in Every U.S. State

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From low-lying deserts to mountainous regions, the United States has a very diverse landscape. The highest point in North America can be found in Alaska with the mountain peak of Denali, which has a summit elevation of 20,310 feet above sea level.

While the United States has a lot of mountainous terrain with some very high elevations, it has has some of the lowest points on Earth. The Mariana Trench, which the U.S. has jurisdiction over, is where the deepest point on Earth is found. Located in the Western Pacific Ocean, the Challenger Deep is a depression with a depth of 10,920 m (35,827 ft).

What are the lowest points on land within the 50 states? This article takes a look at the lowest elevation point in every state.

The elevation data cited comes from the USGS.

Lowest Point on Land in the United States

The lowest point on land in the United States can be found in Death Valley in California. Badwater Basin is an  endorheic basin with a depth of 282 ft (86 m) below sea level.

Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park.  Photo: NPS, public domain.
Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park. Photo: NPS, public domain.

Once a large inland lake, salt flats now cover the basin over an area that is nearly 200 square miles (518 square km). Left behind when the lake evaporated over time, the salts found in Badwater Basin are mostly sodium chloride (table salt), along with calcite, gypsum, and borax. 

This video from the National Park Service shows the salt flats at Badwater Basin.

Louisiana’s Low Point is Also Below Sea Level

In addition to California, one other state has its lowest point below sea level. The lowest point in Louisiana lies in the city of New Orleans with an elevation of -8 feet (-2 meters) below sea level.

A view of the Mississippi River as it winds its way past Algiers Point in New Orleans. To the left of the image can be seen the French Quarter, while to the right can be seen Algiers Point. Photo: Alex Demas, USGS. Public domain
A view of the Mississippi River as it winds its way past Algiers Point in New Orleans. To the left of the image can be seen the French Quarter, while to the right can be seen Algiers Point. Photo: Alex Demas, USGS. Public domain

Significant portions of the city of New Orleans in Louisiana are below sea level due to subsidence. Through the building of levees and flood wall, parts of the city were built over marshland and swamps. Natural and man-made subsidence has gradually lowered the elevation of parts of New Orleans. The average elevation of New Orleans varies between 1 foot (0.30 m) and 2 feet (0.61 m) below sea level.

Vertical cross-section, showing elevation profile for a section of New Orleans.  Diagram: Midnightcomm, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
Vertical cross-section, showing elevation profile for a section of New Orleans. Diagram: Midnightcomm, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

States with a Low Point at Sea Level

22 states have a low point at sea level. The majority of those states are coastal states so the low point of those states extends along coastline.

Oregon Coast at Cannon Beach. Photo: Steven Sobieszczyk, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain
Oregon’s low point is sea level where the state meets the Pacific Ocean. Oregon Coast at Cannon Beach. Photo: Steven Sobieszczyk, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain

The District of Columbia has a low point almost at sea level with a low elevation of 1 foot where the Potomac River meets the eastern Maryland border.

Most U.S. State Low Points are Waterways

In addition to states with low points at sea level, all states with low point elevations above sea level are found within rivers and lakes. These are:

  •  District of Columbia: Potomac River at eastern Maryland border 1.0 ft (0.3 m)
  •  Arkansas: Ouachita River at Louisiana border 55 ft (17 m)
  •  Arizona: Colorado River at Sonora border, San Luis, Arizona 72 ft (22 m)
  •  Vermont: Lake Champlain 95 ft (29 m)
  •  Tennessee: Mississippi River at Mississippi border 178 ft (54 m)
  •  Missouri: Saint Francis River at southern Arkansas border 230 ft (70 m)
  •  West Virginia: Potomac River at Virginia border 240 ft (73 m)
  •  Kentucky: Mississippi River at Kentucky Bend 257 ft (78 m)
  •  Illinois: Confluence of Mississippi River and Ohio River 280 ft (85 m)
  •  Oklahoma: Little River at Arkansas border 289 ft (88 m)
  •  Indiana: Confluence of Wabash River and Ohio River 320 ft (97 m)
  •  Ohio: Ohio River at Indiana border 455 ft (139 m)
  •  Iowa: Confluence of Mississippi River and Des Moines River 480 ft (146 m)
  •  Nevada: Colorado River at California border 481 ft (147 m)
  •  Michigan: Lake Erie 571 ft (174 m)
  •  Wisconsin: Lake Michigan 579 ft (176 m)
  •  Minnesota: Lake Superior 601 ft (183 m)
  •  Kansas: Verdigris River at Oklahoma border 679 ft (207 m)
  •  Idaho: Confluence of Snake River and Clearwater River 713 ft (217 m)
  •  North Dakota: Red River of the North at Manitoba border 751 ft (229 m)
  •  Nebraska: Missouri River at Kansas border 840 ft (256 m)
  •  South Dakota: Big Stone Lake on Minnesota border 968 ft (295 m)
  •  Montana: Kootenai River at Idaho border 1,804 ft (550 m)
  •  Utah: Beaver Dam Wash at Arizona border 2,180 ft (664 m)
  •  New Mexico: Red Bluff Reservoir on Texas border 2,844 ft (867 m)
  •  Wyoming: Belle Fourche River at South Dakotaborder 3,101 ft (945 m)
  •  Colorado: Arikaree River at Kansas border 3,317 ft (1011 m)

Highest Low Point in the United States

The Arikaree River is a 156-mile-long (251 km) river that flows through the central Great Plains of the United States. Where the Arikaree River exists Colorado at the Kansas border is the highest low point in the United States.

Table: Alphabetical List of the Lowest Point by State

This table lists the lowest point for each state, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, The U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. The elevation data in the table comes from the USGS.

State and other areasPlaceElevation (feet)Elevation (Meters)
AlabamaGulf of MexicoSea LevelSea Level
AlaskaPacific OceanSea LevelSea Level
ArizonaColorado River70 21 
ArkansasOuachita River55 17 
CaliforniaDeath Valley-282 -86 
ColoradoArikaree River3,315 1,011 
ConnecticutLong Island SoundSea LevelSea Level
Delaware Atlantic OceanSea LevelSea Level
District of ColumbiaPotomac River(Z)
FloridaAtlantic OceanSea LevelSea Level
GeorgiaAtlantic OceanSea LevelSea Level
HawaiiPacific OceanSea LevelSea Level
IdahoSnake River710 217 
IllinoisMississippi River279 85 
IndianaOhio River320 98 
IowaMississippi River480 146 
KansasVerdigris River679 207 
KentuckyMississippi River257 78 
LouisianaNew Orleans-8-2 
MaineAtlantic OceanSea LevelSea Level
MarylandAtlantic OceanSea LevelSea Level
MassachusettsAtlantic OceanSea LevelSea Level
MichiganLake Erie571 174 
MinnesotaLake Superior601 183 
MississippiGulf of MexicoSea LevelSea Level
MissouriSt. Francis River230 70 
MontanaKootenai River1,800 549 
NebraskaMissouri River840 256 
NevadaColorado River479 146 
New HampshireAtlantic OceanSea LevelSea Level
New JerseyAtlantic OceanSea LevelSea Level
New MexicoRed Bluff Reservoir2,842 867 
New YorkAtlantic OceanSea LevelSea Level
North CarolinaAtlantic OceanSea LevelSea Level
North DakotaRed River of the North750 229 
OhioOhio River455 139 
OklahomaLittle River289 88 
OregonPacific OceanSea LevelSea Level
PennsylvaniaDelaware RiverSea LevelSea Level
Rhode IslandAtlantic OceanSea LevelSea Level
South CarolinaAtlantic OceanSea LevelSea Level
South DakotaBig Stone Lake966 295 
TennesseeMississippi River178 54 
TexasGulf of MexicoSea LevelSea Level
UtahBeaverdam Wash2,000 610 
VermontLake Champlain95 29 
VirginiaAtlantic OceanSea LevelSea Level
WashingtonPacific OceanSea LevelSea Level
West VirginiaPotomac River240 73 
WisconsinLake Michigan579 177 
WyomingBelle Fourche River3,099 945 
  
Other areas:  
Puerto RicoAtlantic OceanSea LevelSea Level
American SamoaPacific OceanSea LevelSea Level
GuamPacific OceanSea LevelSea Level
Virgin IslandsAtlantic OceanSea LevelSea Level

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