Discover The State Capital At The Highest Elevation

© Sean Pavone/

Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: May 30, 2023

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The elevation within the United States greatly varies from place to place. Some areas, like New Orleans, Louisiana, are at or below sea level. Meanwhile, Aspen, Colorado is nearly 8,000 feet above sea level! Naturally, some state capitals are much higher than others throughout the country. Learn about the state capital at the highest elevation in the U.S. and find out where it’s located and how high it is positioned! Here’s a hint: it’s not Denver!

What Are The 10 State Capitals At The Highest Elevation?

Rhode Island

State capitals in the U.S. can be nearly at sea level or over a mile high!


Given that the highest mountains in the continental United States are all west of the Mississippi River, it’s safe to say this holds true for the state capitals. However, not all of these capital cities are situated high in the mountains. Take a look at state capitals at the highest elevation and the one that is higher than all the rest.

10. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City is a metro area with southern charm.

©Gerson Repreza/

1,198 feet687,725

Oklahoma City is steeped in cowboy culture despite being a big city. Located at an elevation of 1,198 feet, visitors can see real cattle auctions, watch rodeos, and go to famous steakhouses. Of course, visitors may want to buy some boots, jeans, and flannels to look the part. The city also has the OKC Zoo and Botanical Garden that showcases animals from around the world!

9. Pierre, South Dakota

Flag of South Dakota against blue sky

The flag of South Dakota features the state nickname, the Mount Rushmore State.


1,453 feet14,091               

Pierre is the capital of South Dakota, and it’s the second-least populous state capital. The 2020 Census found that only 14,091 people lived in this area. The only other capital with a lower population is Montpelier, Vermont. However, Pierre’s elevation of 1,453 feet brings it to a place of prominence on this list!

8. Bismarck, North Dakota

Flag of North Dakota waving in the wind

Bismarck tried to lure German immigrants to the area by naming the city after a German leader.


1,686 feet74,138

Bismarck is the capital of North Dakota. The city only has a population of 74,138 people, and the metropolitan area only adds another 60,000 people or so. Still, the city sits at 1,686 feet above sea level, making it the state capital at the eighth-highest elevation. Interestingly, the city was named after the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck. The state capital is the only one in the U.S. named after a foreign statesman.  

7. Boise, Idaho

Flag of Idaho

Boise is located almost 3,000 feet above sea level.

©Xrmap / Public Domain – Original / License

2,730 feet235,684

The significant increase in the elevation of capital cities begins with Boise, Idaho. This city is 2,730 feet above sea level. That makes it over 1,000 feet higher than Bismarck. The city has a beautiful downtown area filled with places to shop, many annual festivals, and plenty of places to dine.  

6. Helena, Montana

The state capitol building in Montana.


3,875 feet32,091

Helena, Montana is another capital city with a rather low population. In this case, only 32,091 people were counted during the 2020 Census. Still, the city is over 1,000 feet higher than the last entry on the list. Helena sits 3,875 feet above sea level in the state. The city has some beautiful architecture, like that found at the St. Helena Cathedral as well as the Montana State Capitol building.

5. Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City skyline Utah in USA

Whether you’re looking for beautiful mountain hikes or downtown shopping, there are so many fun places to visit in Salt Lake City, Utah.


4,226 feet200,133

Salt Lake City, Utah has an elevation of 4,226 feet. Although the population of 200,133 people may seem small, that number swells with tourists that visit the area. After all, Salt Lake City and its surrounding areas are some of the most popular places to go skiing in the entire United States.

4. Carson City, Nevada

Route 66 Nevada state map roadsign

Route 66 Nevada state map road sign


4,802 feet58,639

Carson City, Nevada is another city that is situated at a high elevation. In this case, the capital is located 4,802 feet above sea level. The city is located in western Nevada, somewhat close to the border with California. The city’s population is only 58,639, but it’s slowly, steadily rising. Carson City was known for hosting the state’s constitutional convention in 1864.

3. Denver, Colorado

Everything about the Union Station in Denver’s Central Business District screams classic 19th-century architecture.

©Arina P Habich/


Officially, Denver, Colorado has an elevation of 5,280 feet. As a result, the city has earned the nickname, “ The Mile-High City.” However, some parts of the city are a bit lower while others are upwards of 5,690 feet tall. Either way, Denver has a mix of a high elevation and a large population.

Over 711,000 people call this capital city home, and the surrounding metro area has close to 3 million people! Denver has professional sports teams, easy access to ski areas, and much more to offer visitors. This is also the first city on the list of state capitals at the highest elevation that exceeds a mile in elevation. However, it’s still not the highest on the list!

2. Cheyenne, Wyoming

Yellowstone River, Wyoming

Cheyenne. Wyoming is over a mile in elevation!



Cheyenne may have less than a tenth of the population of Denver, but it still sits 800 feet higher in elevation. The city of Cheyenne is located in southeastern Wyoming, at the crossroads of major highways. With a population of 65,132 people, this is hardly the most populous city on the list.

Still, it’s the largest one in Wyoming, and it’s renowned for its rodeos and railroads. Also, visitors come to this part of the state to stay at the ranches and resorts that help people stay close to a major city but feel far away from it all.

1. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe has the highest capital city in the U.S.

©Sean Pavone/


Santa Fe, New Mexico is the state capital with the highest elevation in the United States. Although it’s easier to imagine that a place like Denver would have the top spot, Santa Fe is 2,000 feet higher than that city. The city is known for its art galleries, historical areas, and architecture.

Many cities in the United States are high in elevation. In fact, many of them are even higher than Santa Fe. Alma, Colorado is often recognized as the highest city with a permanent population, and it is located 10,578 feet above sea level! Knowing the state capitals with the highest elevations in the U.S. shows the variety of places found throughout the country and that people are never afraid to build there!

Where is Santa Fe, New Mexico Located on a Map?

Nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe serves as the capital city of New Mexico. It is celebrated for its distinctive Pueblo-style architecture and vibrant arts scene, attracting numerous creative individuals. Established as a Spanish colony in 1610, the city’s central focal point is the traditional Plaza. The adjacent historic district features meandering streets that showcase adobe structures of significance, such as the Palace of the Governors, presently housing the New Mexico History Museum.

Here is Santa Fe, New Mexico on a map:

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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