Western United States Travel
Western United States: The Western United States—commonly referred to as the American West or simply The West—traditionally refers to the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. Since the United States has expanded westward since its founding, the definition of the West has evolved over time. The Mississippi River is often referenced as the easternmost possible boundary of the West.
The region encompasses some of the Louisiana Purchase, most of the land ceded by Britain in 1818, some of the land acquired when the Republic of Texas joined the United States, all of the land ceded by Britain in 1846, all of the land ceded by Mexico in 1848, and all of the Gadsden Purchase.
What is the Western region of the United States?
What states are in the West?
- Alaska — Nevada.
- California — Oregon.
- Colorado — Utah.
- Hawaii — Washington.
- Idaho — Wyoming.
How many states are part of the western United States?
Western United States Map
The Western United States (also called the American West, the Far West, and the West) is the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. As European settlement in the U.S. expanded westward through the centuries, the meaning of the term the West changed. Before about 1800, the crest of the Appalachian Mountains was seen as the western frontier. The frontier moved westward and eventually the lands west of the Mississippi River were considered the West.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s definition of the 13 westernmost states includes the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin to the Pacific Coast, and the mid-Pacific islands state, Hawaii. To the east of the Western United States is the Midwestern United States and the Southern United States, with Canada to the north or east, and Mexico generally to the south.
The West contains several major biomes, including arid and semi-arid plateaus and plains, particularly in the American Southwest; forested mountains, including two major ranges, the American Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains; the massive coastal shoreline of the American Pacific Coast; and the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest.
Road Map Of Western United States
In its most expansive definition, the western United States is the largest region, covering more than half the nation’s land area. It is also the most geographically diverse, incorporating regions such as the Pacific Coast, the temperate rainforests of the Northwest, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, most of the tall-grass prairie eastward to Illinois, the western Ozark plateau, the western portions of the southern forests, the Gulf Coast, and all of the desert areas located in the United States (the Mojave, Sonoran, Great Basin, and Chihuahua deserts).
As the largest region in the United States there is variation to such an extent that the West is often broken down into regions. Arizona, Colorado, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah or sections of those states are sometimes considered the Southwest, while all or part of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming can be considered the Northwest; more narrowly, part or all of those same states, with the exception of Wyoming and the eastern portions of Montana and Idaho and the addition of the Canadian province of British Columbia, comprise the Pacific Northwest.
The term West Coast is usually restricted to California, Oregon, and Washington. The Mountain States include Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Alaska and Hawaii, being detached from the other western states, have few similarities with them but are usually also classified as part of the West.
Some western states are grouped into regions with eastern states. Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota are often included in the Midwest, which also includes states like Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Texas and Oklahoma are often considered part of the Southwest, and Texas and Louisiana are also considered part of the South.
Historically, the Northwest Territory was an important early territory of the United States, comprising the modern states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as the northeastern part of Minnesota.
Missing 411 Western United States And Canada
In the Dry West nothing matters more than water. Thus, though temperatures may differ radically from place to place, the really important regional differences depend overwhelmingly on the degree of aridity, whether an area is extremely dry and hence desert or semiarid and therefore steppe.
Americans of the 19th century were preoccupied by the myth of a Great American Desert, which supposedly occupied more than one-third of the entire country. True desert, however, is confined to the Southwest, with patchy outliers elsewhere, all without exception located in the lowland rain shadows of the Cordillera. Vegetation in these desert areas varies between nothing at all (a rare circumstance confined mainly to salt flats and sand dunes) to a low cover of scattered woody scrub and short-lived annuals that burst into flamboyant bloom after rains. Soils are usually thin, light-coloured, and very rich with mineral salts. In some areas wind erosion has removed fine-grained material, leaving behind desert pavement, a barren veneer of broken rock.
Most of the West, however, lies in the semiarid region, in which rainfall is scanty but adequate to support a thin cover of short bunchgrass, commonly alternating with scrubby brush. Here, as in the desert, soils fall into the large family of the pedocals, rich in calcium and other soluble minerals, but in the slightly wetter environments of the West, they are enriched with humus from decomposed grass roots. Under the proper type of management, these chestnut-coloured steppe soils have the potential to be very fertile.
Weather in the West resembles that of other dry regions of the world, often extreme, violent, and reliably unreliable. Rainfall, for example, obeys a cruel natural law: as total precipitation decreases, it becomes more undependable. John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath describes the problems of a family enticed to the arid frontier of Oklahoma during a wet period only to be driven out by the savage drought of the 1930s that turned the western Great Plains into the great American Dust Bowl. Temperatures in the West also fluctuate convulsively within short periods, and high winds are infamous throughout the region.