Have you ever wanted to discover the biggest states in America? There are some exciting locations that make up this category. The interesting thing about the 50 states is that they come in various different sizes, from hugely massive to incredibly tiny. According to the official government website for the Census, the 12 biggest states based on square mileage are as follows:
- Alaska – 665,384 Square Miles
- Texas – 268,596 Square Miles
- California – 163,695 Square Miles
- Montana – 147,040 Square Miles
- New Mexico – 121,591 Square Miles
- Arizona – 113,990 Square Miles
- Nevada – 110,572 Square Miles
- Colorado – 104,094 Square Miles
- Oregon – 98,379 Square Miles
- Wyoming – 97,813 Square Miles
- Michigan – 96,714 Square Miles
- Minnesota – 86,936 Square Miles
Today, we’ll talk about the largest states and share important details, including the details of their size, their geography, population, and the interesting and fun things to do in each place.
1. Alaska – 665,384 Square Miles
The undisputed largest state in America is Alaska. The state stretches 665,384 miles and is almost three times the size of Texas, which is the second-largest state on the list. Alaska is so big, in fact, that it is the same size as the 22 smallest states in America combined. The history of Alaska is unique. It was originally owned by Russia until it was purchased by the United States in 1867 for $7.2 million dollars. It officially became a state in 1959.
Alaska is a very fascinating place. The state has over three million lakes, it has the state’s largest glacier, it has the largest forest in all the states, and you can see the amazing northern lights almost every night of the year. There are a lot of fun things to do in Alaska, including visiting the Museum of the North, the Denali National Park and Preserve, the Anchorage Market, and the fun Dr. Seuss House.
2. Texas – 268,596 Square Miles
While Texas is technically far behind Alaska as far as size, it is still massive at 268,596 square miles. The state is also the second most populous state after California. Texas is also ahead of the curve when it comes to finances. It has the second-highest gross state product. Technically, it has the 10th largest economy in the world.
Texas is one of the most diverse and interesting states in the union. Dr. Pepper was invented in Texas in 1885. The first frozen margarita machine was invented in Dallas. Texas also uses its own power grid that is not connected to the rest of the United States. Finally, Texas is larger than any of the countries in Europe.
There is a ton of fun to be had and cool places to visit in Texas, including Six Flags Over Texas, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, Kemah Boardwalk in Galveston Bay, the Houston Zoo, and SeaWorld in San Antonio.
3. California – 163,695 Square Miles
When people think about the largest states, many automatically think of California. While it is the most populated state with over 40 million residents, it isn’t the largest as far as the land area at 163,695 square miles. California is three times the size of Australia, it is larger than Germany, and 135 times as large as Rhode Island, which is our nation’s smallest state. The area was acquired from Mexico in 1848. It was then the 31st state added to the union in 1850.
There are a lot of other fun facts about California. The state is very diverse. One out of every four residents of California was not born in the U.S. Almonds are the state’s top export. Its major cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose are all in the top 10 cities in the U.S. Also, the state experiences over 100,000 earthquakes every year. With that said, there is a lot of fun to be had. There is Hollywood, many different amusement parks, and tons of gorgeous sights and landscapes to see everywhere you go.
4. Montana – 147,040 Square Miles
The next largest state is Montana which many people expect to be on the list due to its vast landscapes and tons of open space. The state makes up 147,040 square miles. Montana is also the largest state in the Mountain Region. The state is technically larger than the country of Japan.
Montana was the 41st state, and it is known as the “treasure state.” Known for its wildlife, it has the only grizzly bear population in the lower 48 states. There is also a national bison range where over 60 calves are born each year. The population of the state is very low compared to California and Texas. In fact, only seven other states in the country have a lower population. Technically, there are more cows than people.
Although there are a lot of farms, ranches, and empty spaces, there is still plenty to do in Montana. Fun activities include visiting Glacier National Park, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, the Museum of the Rockies, and the famous Yellowstone National Park.
5. New Mexico – 121,591 Square Miles
The next of the biggest states is New Mexico, which comes in at just over 121,000 square miles. The state is about the size of the country of Poland. The capital is Santa Fe, which is the highest state capital in the country because it is 7,198 ft above sea level. As of 2021, the state has a population of just over 2 million people.
New Mexico is a fascinating place, and it is a very smart state. There are more people with PhDs per capita than in any other state. If you go to the top of the Capulin Volcano, you can look around and see five other states. The famous Doc Holliday once worked as a dentist in New Mexico.
There are also a ton of fun things to do there, including visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park, the International UFO Museum and Research Center, the White Sands National Monument, and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.
6. Arizona – 113,990 Square Miles
Nicknamed both the Grand Canyon State and the Copper State, Arizona is the fifth largest state at 113,990 square feet. The state has also been rated as one of the best places to visit in the United States. Arizona is about three times the size of the country of South Korea. Arizona became a state in 1912. It was the 48th state.
There are some unique facts about Arizona, including the fact that the people there do not observe daylight savings time. There are currently 22 Native American tribes living in the state. It has 22 monuments and national parks. You may not realize the fact that it does snow in Arizona, especially around the area of Flagstaff. Needless to say, there is a lot to do, from driving over sand dunes to sledding during the winter.
7. Nevada – 110,572 Square Miles
Nevada was the 36th state to join the country back in 1864. It is a large area that comes in at 110,572 square miles, making it one of the biggest states. Nevada is about three times the size of the country of Portugal. Even though it is one of the largest states, you could still fit 2.5 Nevadas into the state of Texas.
Other interesting facts about Nevada include the fact that Las Vegas has the most hotel rooms out of any city in the country. Also, the deserts of Nevada are home to kangaroo rats. Couples can get married almost anywhere in Nevada, even at a local Denny’s. If you like to gamble, then Vegas is the place for you, as there are even slot machines in grocery stores and gas stations.
8. Colorado – 104,094 Square Miles
The last state on our list that has at least 100,000 square miles is Colorado. The state was added to the country back in 1876. This gorgeous state is known for its scenic landscapes that include everything from canyons and desert lands to mountains, high plains, and plateaus. All in all, Colorado is about the size of the island of New Zealand.
Colorado has a lot of diversity and variety in its culture. Although it may seem like the state is mostly mountains, it does have a population of close to six million people. The city of Denver has the most professional sports teams in the state. The state almost had a chance to host the 1876 Winter Olympics, but they backed out. Finally, the Denver International Airport is the largest airport in America by overall area.
Of course, there is a lot of fun to have in Colorado for those that enjoy hiking, skiing, snowboarding, or exploring.
9. Oregon – 98,379 Square Miles
We now dip below 100,000 square miles, with the state of Oregon, which comes in at just over 98,000 square miles. This is another state that has a lot of space but not a lot of people. It ranks 39th out of 50 states as far as population density. The Beaver State is slightly larger than the UK but has a fraction of its population.
An interesting state, the residents of Oregon are called Oregonians. The state’s tourism slogan is “We Like It Here. You Might Too.” Milk is their official state beverage. One of the things that the state may be most famous for is The Oregon Trail and its corresponding computer game.
Oregon has over 254 state parks, which is second only to California. The highest point in Oregon is Mount Hood, which is a potentially active volcano. Other important sights in the state include Haystack Rock, the Portland Japanese Garden, and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
10. Wyoming – 97,813 Square Miles
The tenth biggest state is Wyoming, with close to 98,000 square miles. Many people believe that Wyoming has a small population, and it does. It is the second-least densely populated state in the country. In fact, the most populous city in the state is its capital city of Cheyenne, with close to 64,000 people. Although large, Wyoming is half of the size of the state of Spain.
Known as the “Cowboy State,” Wyoming is a very interesting state. It was the first area in the U.S. where women could vote, and the motto of the state is “Equal Rights.” This was home to many outlaws and cowboys back in the day, and they say that Wyoming is full of ghost towns. This is where a lot of the gold rush took place. That may be one of the reasons why almost half of the state is federally owned.
While there are plenty of ranches and flowing plains, there is also a lot to do in Wyoming during a vacation. Among these activities is the chance to visit the Buffalo Bill Dam, the A-OK Corral, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, the amazing Devil’s Tower National Monument, and more.
11. Michigan – 96,714 Square Miles
To round out our top 11 biggest states, we have a state that is a bit further away than the other states, and that is Michigan. It may look close in size to Minnesota, but technically Michigan has 10,000 more square miles. Technically, that is because 41.5% of the state is water, and that still counts towards its total square footage. It is the largest state in the East North Central region of the U.S.
Other interesting facts about Michigan include the fact that the state currently has about 10 million residents. Diversity is one of the reasons why Michigan was the first state to have civil rights laws. Part of the state is Lake Superior, which is the largest freshwater lake in the world. Also, this is where Kellogg’s started the cereal industry back in 1906.
There are a lot of fun things to do in Michigan, including visiting the Michigan Science Center, Mackinac Island, Ann Arbor, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the awesome animals at the Detroit Zoo.
12. Minnesota – 86,936 Square Miles
At just under 87,000 square miles, Minnesota is the 12th largest state. While it isn’t larger than many famous countries, it is still about 85,000 square miles larger than the smallest state of Rhode Island. The state of Minnesota was passed around in its infancy as it was owned by the French and British before it was acquired by the U.S. in 1763 and added as a state in 1858 as the 32nd state.
Minnesota has its fair share of interesting facts, including that it is known as the “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” and the “North Star State.” One of those rivers is the Minnesota River, which is almost 12,000 years old. This is also where the scotch tape was invented. Minnesota is also known as one of the healthiest states and one of the best states for education.
The people here are really smart, which is proven by the number of museums in the area. If you ever visit, you can check out the Minnesota History Center, Walker Art Center, Bell Museum of Natural History, Science Museum Of Minnesota, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, among others.
If you want to discover the biggest states in the country, then check out the states on this list. You’ll notice that most of these states are located on the Western side of the country, so this is a great time to come out and do some exploring. Create a bucket list and try to visit every one of the biggest states. You’ll be glad you did!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/ClaudineVM
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