How Wide Is Arkansas? Total Distance from East to West

Written by Kathryn Koehler
Updated: September 26, 2023
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How wide is Arkansas, you wonder? What’s the total distance from east to west? Answering such questions would be easier if the U.S. States were created on a grid. And while some of the Western U.S. states come close to resembling precise grids, most U.S. state boundaries are far from uniform squares on the map. The Lower 48 contiguous U.S. States borders were shaped by a complex interplay of historical events, natural features, and political negotiations. Each state’s boundaries tell a story, from the meandering rivers of the South to the jagged mountain ranges of New England. And so it is with Arkansas. At its widest, the Natural State measures 270 mi (435 km). Continue reading to discover more about Arkansas!

Arkansas map

Though some Western U.S. states come close to resembling precise grids, most U.S. state boundaries are far from uniform squares on the map.

©Alexander Lukatskiy/Shutterstock.com

How Wide Is Arkansas?

Arkansas is a landlocked state located in the South/Central United States. Not exactly Southeastern or Southwestern, nor a Gulf Coast state, Arkansas is somewhat of an outlier. The state’s boundaries are defined by natural geographic features and agreements with neighboring states. Arkansas’s northern boundary is defined by the state’s border with Missouri, although the Mississippi River forms a small portion of the northern boundary in the Northeastern corner of the state. The eastern boundary of Arkansas is defined by the Mississippi River. This river separates Arkansas from the state of Mississippi and, to a lesser extent, Tennessee.

To the south, Arkansas is formed by its border with Louisiana. The western edge of Arkansas is defined by its borders with Texas and Oklahoma. The widest part of the state is located to the north, between Tennessee and Oklahoma. At its widest point, the eastern edge of Arkansas is located in Mississippi County, near the town of Huffman. The western border is in Washington County, approximately 20 miles southwest of Fayetteville. The eastern portion of the widest part of Arkansas is in the Mississippi Delta, known for its fertile farmland. The western part is defined by the thickly forested Ozark Mountains.

Paddle-wheeler on the Mississippi river in Memphis, Tennessee

The eastern boundary of Arkansas is defined by the Mississippi River, seen on the distant shore.

©iStock.com/ianpjones

How Wide Is Arkansas? At-A-Glance

QuestionAnswer
How wide is Arkansas?270 mi (435 km); Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge
How tall is Arkansas?240 mi (386 km); fairly uniformly
How narrow is Arkansas?150 miles (242 km); southern boundary
What is the highest point in Arkansas?2,753 feet (840 m) above sea level; Mount Magazine
What is the lowest point in Arkansas?55 feet (17m) above sea level; Ouachita River
Where is the geographic center of Arkansas?12 miles northwest of Little Rock in Pulaski County
How big is Arkansas?At 53,179 square miles (137,733 kmĀ²), Arkansas ranks 29/50 in total area.
When did Arkansas become a state?Arkansas was the 25th state to enter the Union on June 15, 1836.
What is the capital of Arkansas?Little Rock
How many people live in Arkansas?3 million
Little Rock, Arkansas, State Capitol

The State Capitol of Little Rock stands lit by bright sunshine. The Arkansas River is visible in the background.

©Real Window Creative/Shutterstock.com

What Does Arkansas Mean?

The word Arkansas is derived from a French pronunciation of a name used by the indigenous Quapaw people for the region. The Quapaw people originally called themselves Ugakhpa or Ugahxpa, which the French settlers in the area transcribed as Arkansa. Over time, the name evolved into its current form, Arkansas, the final s considered a pluralization of the original form.

As a word of French origin, it was decided by official decree that the final s would be silent. In 1881, the state passed legislation stating that the pronunciation was officially from henceforth and forever more Arkansaw. This pronunciation preserved the memory of the original Quapaw people while recognizing the contributions of the French explorers. Some folk, especially those outside the state, refer to the river as the ar-KAN-zas placing the emphasis on the second syllable. This pronunciation is a source of humor and confusion, and as Papaw used to say, “just plain wrong.”

Little Rock, Arkansas, USA Skyline

Some folk, especially those outside the state, refer to the river as the

ar-KAN-zas

placing the emphasis on the second syllable. Pictured: The Arkansas River with the Little Rock skyline in the background.

©Sean Pavone/iStock via Getty Images

How Wide Is Arkansas? Relatively Speaking

Heading west, U.S. states tend to get larger, in contrast with the smaller, more compact states of New England. This reflects the wide-open spaces and frontier history of the American West. From Alaska’s 2,000-mile plus width to Deleware’s 9 miles (14 km) at its narrowest point, the fifty United States come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes! Centrally located as it is, it should come as no surprise that Arkansas is a moderately wide state:

StateWidth
Alaska2,272 (3,658 km)
Hawaii1.604 (2,581 km)
California827 (1.331 km)
Texas800 (1287 km)
Montana629 (1012 km)
Arkansas270 mi (435 km)
New Hampshire68 (109 km)
New Jersey65 (104 km)
Vermont40 (64 km)
Rhode Island37 (60 km)
Deleware35 (56 km)

Five Fresh Facts About Arkansas

The photo featured at the top of this post is © RBraley / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License / Original


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About the Author

Kathryn Koehler is a writer at A-Z-Animals where her focus is on unusual animals, places, and events. Kat has over 20 years of experience as a professional writer and educator. She holds a master's degree from Vanderbilt University. When she is not writing for A-Z-Animals, Kat enjoys puttering in her garden, baking deliciously healthful treats for her family, and playing with her two rescue mutts, Popcorn and Scooter. She resides in Tennessee.

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