States With the Most Diverse Landscapes

Spanning nearly 3.8 million square miles, the United States is one of the largest countries in the world by total landmass. From the Smokey Mountains to the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains to the Great Lakes, it is also one of the most geographically diverse. 

Not all states in the Lower 48 are equally endowed with that diversity, however. Some are defined largely by their geographic uniformity, while others have a wide range of varying landscapes, including mountains, deserts, farmland, forests, lakes, and cities. (If you like mountains, this is the highest point in every state.)

Using data from the U.S. Geological Survey, 24/7 Tempo has identified the states with the most diverse land cover and ranked them from the least to most diverse according to the probability that two random parcels of land are different land cover types. (Due to data limitations, Alaska and Hawaii are not included.)

Among the Lower 48 states, the odds that two randomly selected land parcels fall into different cover type categories range from about 33% to over 80%. While there are some notable exceptions, several of the most diverse states are also among the largest by square miles. Here is a look at the largest states in America

Click here to see the states with the most diverse land use

Depending on the state, the most common land cover type varies from deserts to farmland to shrub vegetation – though in most states, forests and woodland account for the largest share of land cover. In the least geographically diverse state, farms account for over 80% of land use, while in the most diverse states, no classification accounts for over 30%. 

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