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.
Lowest Point on Land in the United States
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.
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.
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.
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 areas||Place||Elevation (feet)||Elevation (Meters)|
|Alabama||Gulf of Mexico||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Alaska||Pacific Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Connecticut||Long Island Sound||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Delaware||Atlantic Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|District of Columbia||Potomac River||1||(Z)|
|Florida||Atlantic Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Georgia||Atlantic Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Hawaii||Pacific Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Maine||Atlantic Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Maryland||Atlantic Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Massachusetts||Atlantic Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Mississippi||Gulf of Mexico||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Missouri||St. Francis River||230||70|
|New Hampshire||Atlantic Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|New Jersey||Atlantic Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|New Mexico||Red Bluff Reservoir||2,842||867|
|New York||Atlantic Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|North Carolina||Atlantic Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|North Dakota||Red River of the North||750||229|
|Oregon||Pacific Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Pennsylvania||Delaware River||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Rhode Island||Atlantic Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|South Carolina||Atlantic Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|South Dakota||Big Stone Lake||966||295|
|Texas||Gulf of Mexico||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Virginia||Atlantic Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Washington||Pacific Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|West Virginia||Potomac River||240||73|
|Wyoming||Belle Fourche River||3,099||945|
|Puerto Rico||Atlantic Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|American Samoa||Pacific Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Guam||Pacific Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|
|Virgin Islands||Atlantic Ocean||Sea Level||Sea Level|