Which U.S. States are Landlocked?

Caitlin Dempsey


The contiguous United States stretches from the Pacific Coast in the West to the Atlantic Ocean in the East. Both the eastern and western sides of the country face open ocean.

To the north, the United States shares the longest international border in the world with Canada. To the south, the United States shares a border with Mexico that stretches for 2,000 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. Four states, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, share a border with Mexico.

What is the definition of landlocked?

The debate about what constitutes a landlocked state often centers around the nuances of access to maritime routes and navigable waterways. Some argue that states with significant access to major rivers or lakes, which connect to the ocean, should not be considered truly landlocked. For example. Pennsylvania has access to the Delaware River and Lake Erie, which connect to the Atlantic Ocean, providing indirect maritime access.

For the purposes of this article, a state is considered landlocked if it does not have any coastline along an ocean or sea. A state is geographically considered landlocked if it is entirely surrounded by land or borders inland bodies of water such as lakes and rivers but lacks direct access to the open sea without first access an interior waterway or waterbody.

Free weekly newsletter

Fill out your e-mail address to receive our newsletter!

So which U.S. states are landlocked?

All Landlocked States are in the Contiguous United States

There are 27 states that are considered landlocked. 21 of these states are landlocked with no access to any large body of water. Seven of these landlocked states front the Great Lakes. All of these states are in the contiguous United States.

Seven Landlocked States are Along the Great Lakes

While these seven states don’t have direct access to an ocean, they are share borders with the Great Lakes. Technically, ocean access can be achieved by sailing from any of the Great Lakes out to the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence River. These seven states are: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania landlocked?

Yes, Pennsylvania is landlocked. It does not have a coastline along any ocean. However, it does have access to significant waterways, including the Delaware River, which provides a connection to the Atlantic Ocean

The 27 Landlocked U.S. States

Here are the 27 states:

A choropleth map showing states in light orange that are single landlocked, medium orange that are double landlocked, and dark orange that are triple landlocked.
Map of the contiguous United States showing the 27 states that are landlocked. Map: Caitlin Dempsey from Natural Earth Data.

Arizona (AZ): Single landlocked with California to the west and Mexico to the south blocking access to the Pacific Ocean.

Arkansas (AR): Louisiana sits between Arkansas and the Gulf of Mexico.

Colorado (CO): Colorado is a double-landlocked state with New Mexico and Mexico between access to the Atlantic Ocean.

Idaho (ID): A single landlocked state, Washington and Oregon each block a section of Idaho from direct access to the Pacific Ocean.

Illinois (IL): Illinois has lakefront access to Lake Michigan but is double landlocked. From the southern tip of Illinois, access of the Atlantic Ocean is blocked by Kentucky and then Virginia.

Indiana (IN): Similar to Illinois, Indiana is a double landlocked state with Kentucky and Virginia blocking direct access from the southern tip of the state to the Atlantic Ocean. Indiana also fronts Lake Michigan.

Iowa (IA): In terms of direct access of the ocean, Iowa is double-landlocked with Minnesota and Canada in between the state and the Hudson Bay. Iowa is triple-landlocked at its southern tip with Illinois, Kentucky, and Virginia in between the state and the Atlantic Ocean.

Kansas (KS): Oklahoma and Texas lie in between Kansas and the Gulf of Mexico.

Kentucky (KY): Virginia blocks direct access to the Atlantic Ocean to this single-landlocked state.

Michigan (MI): Canada lies between this single-landlocked state and the Hudson Bay. Michigan fronts four of the five Great Lakes: Superior, Huron, Erie and Michigan which provides indirect access to the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence River.

Minnesota: (MN) Minnesota is a single-landlocked state with access to the Hudson Bay blocked by Canada. Minnesota fronts Lake Superior.

Missouri (MO): Missouri is double-landlocked with Arkansas and Louisiana between the state and the Gulf of Mexico.

Montana (MT): Montana is a single-landlocked state that borders Canada. Access to the Pacific Ocean is through British Columbia in Canada.

Nebraska (NE): Nebraska is the only triple-landlocked state in the United States. The closest access to the ocean is through Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to the Gulf of Mexico.

Nevada (NV): This single-landlocked state’s nearest ocean is the Pacific Ocean via California.

New Mexico (NM): This single-landlocked state has Texas between it and the Gulf of Mexico.

North Dakota (ND): To get to the Hudson Bay, residents in this single landlocked state would first have to travel through the Canadian province of Manitoba.

Ohio (OH): Ocean access to this single-landlocked is via Canada’s Ontario province to the Hudson Bay. Stateside, Ohio is double-landlocked with access to the Atlantic Ocean via West Virginia and Virginia.

Oklahoma (OK): Texas sits between this single-landlocked state and the Gulf of Mexico.

Pennsylvania (PA): New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and Maryland are all between single-landlocked Pennsylvania and the Atlantic Ocean. A small portion of Pennsylvania fronts Lake Erie.

South Dakota (SD): North Dakota and Manitoba site between this double-landlocked state and Hudson Bay.

Tennessee (TN): A pick of six states provides access to the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico for this single-landlocked state. The Atlantic Ocean is accessed through: Georgia, Virginia, or North Carolina. The Gulf of Gulf of Mexico is accessed through Mississippi or Alabama.  

Utah (UT): Utah is double-landlocked with Nevada and California between it and the Pacific Ocean.

Vermont (VT): Vermont is surrounded on all sides by three states to its east, west, and south, and Canadian provinces to the north. New Hampshire to the east, New York to the west, and Massachusetts to the south are the three states that provide access to the Atlantic Ocean for this single-landlocked state.

West Virginia (WV): Two states provide access to the Atlantic Ocean for this single-landlocked state: Virginia and Maryland.

Wisconsin (WI): Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario sits between this double-landlocked state and the Hudson Bay. Wisconsin also fronts two of the Great Lakes: Superior and Michigan.

Wyoming (WY): Wyoming is double-landlocked with Idaho and Oregon between it and the Pacific Ocean.

Which States are Single-Landlocked?

The following 16 states have one other state or Canadian province that blocks direct access to an ocean or port:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia

Which States are Double-Landlocked?

The following 10 states have two other states or Canadian provinces that blocks direct access to an ocean or port:

  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Missouri
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Which States are Triple-Landlocked?

There is only one state that has three other states or Canadian provinces that blocks direct access to an ocean or port:

  • Nebraska

Which States Aren’t Landlocked?

23 states have direct access to the ocean. 21 of those states are in the contiguous United States along with Alaska and Hawaii. These 23 states are: Alaska, Hawai’i, Washington, Oregon, California, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

What is the Ratio of Landlocked to Not Landlocked States in the Contiguous U.S.?

There are 48 states in the contiguous United States (this count excludes Alaska and Hawaii). In the contiguous U.S. there are 27 states that don’t border an ocean and 21 states that do border the ocean. A ratio of landlocked to not landlocked states is 27:21 which simplifies to a ratio of 9:7.

Photo of author
About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.