Last updated on June 26, 2023
The United States is a massive country. It’s the fourth-largest country in the world and the area of the United States of America is more than twice the size of the European Union! There are 50 continental states that span from the eastern shores of Maine to the western shores of California and from the southern borders along Mexico to the northern borders along Canada. It’s no wonder there are so many facts!
The country is full of vast history and unique landmarks, and each defined state has a story to tell and facts to uncover. What state has the strangest landmarks? Which four states meet together to form a square shape? What state has a royal palace?
We answer these burning questions below (and more!) as you learn all about interesting facts about the US states.
Know your stuff already about the US States? Then jump right into the quiz. Otherwise keep reading and learn some fascinating facts.
66 Interesting Facts about the US States
Quick and Fun Facts about US States
The Largest Mountain
The largest mountain in the United States can be found in the state of Alaska. Sitting at 20,310 feet above sea level, the peak of Denali (or Mount McKinley, as it’s sometimes referred to) is the third most topographically isolated and prominent summit on Earth.
The Largest Waterfall
In terms of volume, the largest waterfall in the United States is none other than Niagara Falls. Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls are the two waterfalls that distinguish the American side of Niagara Falls.
The Largest US State
Alaska not only boasts North America’s largest mountain peak, but at 1.723 million square kilometers, it also has the largest land area of all the states and territories.
Most Populous State
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the state of California had the most citizens in 2022, with a population of 39,185,605 residents. Just under 30% of citizens live in cities across Los Angeles County.
The Furthest Points in the United States from East to West
The most easterly point on the map of the United States is Sail Rock in Maine. The most westerly point is Cape Alava in Olympic National Park in Washington.
The United States has all of Earth’s five climate zones
The United States is so vast that all of Earth’s five major climate zones – tropical, dry, polar, temperate, and continental – occur across the regions of the country.
There is Only One Spot in the Whole Country Where 4 States Meet
The Four Corners Monument is located at 36.9990° N, 109.0452° W and marks a spot in the Southwestern United States where four states meet. The four states are Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado, which converge to form a large, somewhat square shape.
Interesting US States Facts
The Mississippi River
Despite its name, the headwater of the Mississippi River begins as just a trickle in the Northern state of Minnesota. From there, it runs through 10 states on its way south, including Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
Maine is home to over 40,000 acres of blueberries.
When you think of Maine, you might instinctively think lobsters, but it is nearly as abundant in flora as it is in fauna. Along with 17.52 acres of forest, the region is home to over 40.000 acres of wild blueberries ripe for picking between late July and early August.
Texas is the largest producer of cotton
The state of Texas produces almost half of the natural gas of the entire country, but its most prosperous crop is actually cotton.
Hawaii was the last state to join the United States
On August 12, 1959, the officials in the House of Congress voted to make the island state the 50th and final member to join the union. Hawaiians turned up in droves to vote in favor of statehood, with over 90% of the voting population in agreement.
There is a tiny German-inspired town in Colorado
Nestled in the state of Colorado sits the ski village of Vail, the fourth-largest skiing terrain in North America. It was built with the Bavarian town of Tyrol in mind, and the pedestrian street system and architecture are meant to resemble the ski towns of Europe.
Route 66 stretches across 8 US states
America’s most famous highway, Route 66, stretches across the US map and crosses 3 time zones across 8 states and spans for nearly 2,400 miles. Going across the country from East to West, it begins in Illinois, cuts through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, and culminates in California.
Vermont has over 100 Bridges
The small state of Vermont has over 800 lakes, many of which are so large that bridges were built in order to cross them. Avid hikers and bird watchers can take in the breathtaking scenery, knowing that there are over 100 bridges scattered across the state connecting the many forests.
Massachusetts played a huge role in the American Revolution
During the time of the American Revolution, America had colonies, not states, and more soldiers came from Massachusetts than from any other colony.
District of Columbia (D.C) isn’t a state
As per the Constitution of the United States, D.C. is not counted among the 50 states. The “D.C” in Washington D.C stands for ‘District of Columbia,’ and its status as the nation’s capital and ‘seat of government of the United States’ disqualifies it from statehood, despite protests of the residents of Washington D.C.
The United States expanded after the Mexican-American War
The Mexican-American war was fought over regions of the North American Southwest between the years 1846-1848. The signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war, and Mexico was paid over $18 million dollars in exchange for formerly Mexican territory. With that, the union expanded parts of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, most of Arizona and Colorado, and parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wyoming.
New Mexico makes outstanding wine
Long before vineyards grew in California’s Napa Valley, viticulture had a long-established history in its neighboring state to the south. There are over 50 wineries spread out across the counties. The grape varieties primarily grown are Syrah, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, and Zinfandel.
Washington has some of the longest floating bridges
Because of the softness of the bed of Lake Washington, pillars could not be installed. In the 1920s, an engineer called Homer Hadley proposed the idea of creating a floating bridge by connecting hollow barges. The idea was so successful that the state of Washington is now home to 4 out of the 5 longest floating bridges in the whole world.
Montana is home to the ‘Richest Hill on Earth’
Mining put Montana on the map. Mountainous Montana is rich in mineral resources, and many of its cities have a long mining history. The city of Butte first began mining in the 1800s, and over $48 billion worth of gold, copper, and silver, earning it the moniker ‘the richest hill on Earth’.
West Virginia is so small
The state of West Virginia is so small that it’s the only state that lies completely within the ranges of the Appalachian Mountains. The rolling hills and wide range of outdoor activities easily accessible have earned West Virginia the nickname ‘the mountain state.’
Mississippi and catfish
Considering Mississippi’s geography, it has a lot to offer. Its fertile soil means that agriculture makes up a huge part of Mississippi’s economy, and the muddy bottoms of its catfish ponds make it a prominent player in the catfish farming industry.
Delaware has no National Parks
The state of Delaware is the only state in the country that has no national parks. However, it does have several state parks.
Ohio doesn’t have a rectangular flag
Unlike its fellow states, Ohio’s flag is distinctly triangular in shape. Designed by John Eisenmann in 1902 to symbolize the state’s geography, he explained that tapered ends represent the hills and valleys of Ohio.
Rhode Island is the jewelry making capital
A jeweller named Nehemiah Dodge figured out a gold-plating technique that made creating costume jewelry much cheaper, and the industry exploded in the state of Rhode Island at the end of the 18th century. As recently as the late 1980s, the jewelry-making business is still alive and well, with over 900 businesses in the state’s capital city of Providence.
The state name of Tennessee has Indigenous roots
The state of Tennessee derived its name from a Southeastern tribal word, ‘tanasse‘ or ‘tennese‘, which means ‘the meeting place’.
The Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri has more shoreline than California
Boasting over 1150 miles of shoreline, the man-made Lake of the Ozarks has roughly 300 more miles of shoreline than the state of California. The construction of the Bagnell Dam in the 1930s redirected water from the Osage River to create one of Missouri’s most popular tourist destinations.
Wyoming is the least populated state
At over 97,000 square miles, the state of Wyoming is the 10th largest state in the country, yet it is the least populated. Its population was recorded as 578,803 in 2021.
There are no roads connecting Juneau to other parts of Alaska
Because of the rough terrain that is distinctive to the region, there are no roads leading into Juneau. The only way to get into the state’s capital is via ferry or plane.
Alaska has the longest coastline in the US
The state of Alaska has a 6,640-mile shoreline that borders the North Pacific Ocean, the Arctic Ocean, the Bering Sea, and the Beaufort Sea. Surprisingly, there is said to be some good surf to be found if you’re brave enough to face the cold water.
The world’s largest piece of silver was found in Colorado in 1894
Weighing in at 1840 pounds, the largest nugget of silver ever found in history was pulled from Smuggler Mine in Aspen, CO in 1894.
Hawaii is home to the country’s only Royal Palace
Throughout Hawaiian history, monarchies played an important role in tribal life. The last monarch stepped down in 1894, paving the way for the island nation to become a republic, then a U.S. territory, before finally being admitted into the union. Iolani Palace in Honolulu was the home of the last ruling monarch of Hawaii, Queen Lili’uokalani, and is the only royal palace in the states.
The Girl Scouts were founded in Savannah, Georgia
Juliette Gordon-Low formed the Girl Scouts in her hometown on March 12, 1912. With inclusivity, resilience, and self-reliance in mind, her vision of young girls realizing their true potential has stood the test of time and is still popular throughout the states today.
Kentucky has the longest underground cave in the world
The longest underground cave in the world can be found in the state of Kentucky. Over 400 miles of Mammoth Cave have already been explored, with approximately 600 miles left to be discovered.
New Hampshire used artificial rain to stop a forest fire in 1947
Artificial rain was used to stop raging forest fires in the region of Concord, New Hampshire in 1947. The rain was produced through a process called ‘cloud seeding,’ which consists of feeding clouds with dry ice to increase precipitation.
Smokey the Bear is real and comes from New Mexico
Speaking of forest fires, everyone’s favorite fire-safety mascot, Smokey the bear, inspired the name of a real-life bear that was found in the wreckage of a forest fire in the 1950s in New Mexico.
The Largest Natural Stone Bridge can be found in Utah
Rainbow Bridge is in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and is considered one of the largest (meaning highest, at 62 meters tall) natural bridges in the world. Redirected stream water pushed through a small opening in the rock wall, enlarging it over time until the bridge was formed. Visitors can reach the bridge either by boat via Lake Powell or by hiking over 14 miles from Navajo Nation.
Wild Alaskan blueberries are healthier than common blueberries
According to the Wild Blueberry Organization (yes, that’s a thing), wild blueberries, specifically those that grow in Alaska, have a higher concentration of anthocyanin, a powerful flavonoid, giving them 2x the antioxidant power than store-bought blueberries or wild blueberries grown elsewhere.
Arizona feeds Americans during the winter months
During the winter months, while much of the country is covered in snow, Arizona is still getting plenty of sunshine. For that reason, most of (that is, nearly 90%) the leafy greens consumed by the United States are grown by farmers in regions of Arizona.
Texas is the birthplace of the hamburger
The story goes that a man called Fletcher Davis made the first hamburger in history, later debuting it at the World’s Fair in St. Louis in the year 1904.
I scream for Ice Cream in Iowa
Le Mars, Iowa is home to the Blue Bunny ice cream factory, and more ice cream is made here than in any other place in the world!
Louisiana has its own cuisine
Cajun food has defined the bayous of Louisiana with its spicy notes and hearty recipes for generations. This delicious cuisine was brought to the territory by French-speaking Acadian immigrants from Nova Scotia, Canada in the 18th century. It lends a Southern twist to classic French dishes.
The battle over Clam Chowder
The debate about whether or not to add tomatoes to clam chowder got so heated in 1939 that officials tried to introduce a bill that would make adding tomatoes to clam chowder illegal in Massachusetts.
The oldest archeological site in the United States is in Virginia
The site at Cactus Hill Archaeological Site in Sussex County, Virginia, was founded in the mid-1980s and fossils found there have given us evidence of human activity between 18,000 and 20,000 years ago.
New York was settled by the Dutch
Dutch settlers established New Netherland (present-day New York) in 1624, where they ran a very successful fur trading operation during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century. The capital was called ‘New Amsterdam’ after Holland’s largest city. Later on, when England acquired the region, King Charles II renamed the city and state ‘New York’ after his brothers, the Dukes of York and Albany.
The Lollipop was created in Connecticut
A man called George Smith from New Haven, Connecticut first mounted large hard candies onto sticks in the year 1908. He named the lollipop after a famous racehorse at the time and trademarked the name in 1931.
There’s a festival dedicated to a giant bottle of Ketchup in Illinois
Collinsville might be home to one of the strangest landmarks around – a giant bottle of ketchup. It’s actually a water tower that supplies water from the G.S. Suppiger Company to the Brooks Catsup plant. The president of G.S. Suppiger had the idea to design the tower in the shape of a ketchup bottle in 1949, and the town has celebrated the tower’s birthday with a festival and car show every year since.
It was once illegal to serve ice cream on cherry pie in Kansas
According to the Kansas Secretary of State, officials once made it illegal to serve cherry pie topped with a scoop of ice cream, although it’s unclear why the law came to be or how strictly it was once enforced. Thankfully, ice cream lovers in the state of Kansas can now enjoy their cherry pie whichever way they want.
Tornado alley spans across 7 US States
The term ‘tornado alley’ has been used to describe the extreme weather patterns that are prominent in the great plain regions of the central United States. It was first coined in 1952 by a team of military meteorologists studying weather patterns in the area. Its border is loosely defined but includes some or all of the states of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota.
North Carolina is the sweet potato capital
There are roughly over 100,000 acres of sweet potatoes harvested annually in the state of North Carolina, with a record-breaking 61% of the national harvest coming from this territory in 2019. Farms spread out throughout the coastal plain region benefit from the sandy, well-draining soil that sweet potatoes love, with the Johnston County region and counties within the Blacklands proving the most fertile.
There’s a festival for pig intestines in South Carolina
Meanwhile, in the state of South Carolina, locals love to chow down on chitlins, a local favorite. Hog intestines that have been boiled or fried and sometimes stuffed, chitlins or chitterlings, are so popular in certain regions of the state that entire festivals are dedicated to them. The town of Salley in the Aiken County territory inaugurated the first Chitlin Strut in 1966, and it has since become a major event that draws roughly 70,000 people from cities across the map every year.
The World’s Largest Macaroni and Cheese dish was in Utah
Schreiber Foods Inc took the record for the largest dish of macaroni and cheese on July 29, 2022 in Logan, Utah. It took a team of staff members just about 3 1/2 hours to put together this massive dish of mac and cheese, which weighed in at 4,742 lb, 2.29 oz, earning them the Guinness World Record.
Oklahoma has an entire state meal
Some cities have food that is synonymous with their regions, and most states have a state bird or flower that represents their territories, but Oklahoma takes it a step further by having its own state meal. Emblematic of the state’s cultural history and strong agricultural suits, it consists of fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbeque pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken fried steak, black-eyed peas, and pecan pie.
There are over 700 food carts in Portland, Oregon
The city of Portland, Oregon is a food lover’s paradise, consistently ranking in the top spots on food lists year after year. The region’s temperate climate gives restaurant owners easy access to fresh farm produce and excellent wineries, which explains the 500+ restaurants and 700 food carts that dot the map of the city.
Wisconsin is full of Cheeseheads
The state of Wisconsin takes its cheesemaking very seriously and has its own rigorous master cheesemaking program that requires students to pass several courses and complete a 3-year apprenticeship. Course topics range from cheese technology to water management.
Mountain Dew was created in Tennessee to mix with Whiskey
Having failed to find a better soda to mix with their whiskey, Barney and Ally Hartman created Mountain Dew in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the 1940s.
Cows outnumber people in nine different States
There are a total of 9 states that have a higher population of cows than people. They are Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
The World’s Longest Boardwalk is in New Jersey
The Atlantic City Boardwalk in New Jersey is not only the oldest in the country, but it’s also the longest in the world, stretching for 5.5 miles. The city became known as a major commerce center after it opened in 1870, offering visitors plenty of shops, casinos, and food stalls to choose from.
There are no more California Grizzlies
The California Grizzly Bear was named the state animal in 1953, despite the fact that the last bear was seen in 1924, after decades of game hunting.
The first University in the United States was in Massachusetts
The prestigious Harvard University opened its doors in Cambridge, Massachusetts in September of 1636. It remains the top choice for many academics and is intensely competitive, having an acceptance rate of just 7.4 in 2021.
The E-Commerce Capital of the United States is in California
E-commerce has taken over cities from East to West, and online stores have been replacing brick-and-mortar shopping centers all across the map. If you’ve ordered anything online recently, chances are it came from the county of San Bernadino, California, the busiest e-commerce fulfillment center on the continent. An explosion of warehouses and industrial properties has completely changed the real estate market in the area, with over 43 consecutive quarters of growth experienced.
The oldest National Park is in Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park, famous for its astonishing beauty and geysers, was named a national park in 1872 and is the oldest in the country. 96% of the park is in Wyoming with a sliver of the national park in Idaho and Montana.
Rhode Island is the smallest state but is more populous than Alaska
At barely 1200 square miles, Rhode Island is the smallest state in the country, yet, with over a million citizens compared to 732, 000, it is more densely populated than Alaska.
The United States and Territories
Along with the 50 states, the union includes 14 territories that have a political union with the United States. To the east of the U.S., in the Caribbean Sea, lie Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. To the west, the remaining territories are scattered throughout the Pacific Ocean, and only three are inhabited. They are American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
American football is incredibly popular in American Samoa, and several players on the National Football Team have hailed from American Samoa. Despite this, many citizens of the U.S. territories are treated differently than other American citizens, with no federal representation and no federal voting power. It’s almost as if they live in other countries.
Speaking of Puerto Rico, it happens to be home to the only rainforest in America’s National Forest System, the nature reserve of El Yunque. There are 88 species of rare native trees growing in the reserve, 23 of which can only be found in El Yunque.
The most populated territory is Puerto Rico
Of all the territories within the United States, the island of Puerto Rico is the most populated with 3.3 million inhabitants.
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This post was compiled by the Travel Trivia Challenge (TTC) team. TTC was founded by Dalene and Pete Heck who traveled the world non-stop for almost 8 years.