US States Map > Iowa Map > Geography of Iowa

Geography of Iowa

by Vishul Malik

Iowa is located in the "American Heartland". The terrain of the region mostly comprises rolling hills.

General Features

Iowa is located in the Mid-western United States. It shares its borders with Mississippi on the east, Des Moines River on the south, and Big Sioux River on the west. It has one of the most fertile land in the world.

Geographically, the state can be divided into three regions:

  • Young Drift Plains: The Young Drift Plains stretches from the northern region of the state to the central parts. During the ice age, the land was mostly covered with gravel, rocks and sand. The topography of the region is characterized by flat, fertile land. It has one of the most fertile plains in the world.
  • Driftless Area: The Driftless Area lies to the Northeastern region of Iowa. It runs parallel to the Mississippi River in the northeast and is often called “The Switzerland of America”. This region is characterized by rugged hills and cliffs and thin soil. Because of this, it is not suited for agriculture. Pine forest covers sections of this region.
  • Dissected Till Plains: The Dissected Till Plains are located in the southern area of Iowa. The terrain of this region comprises low, rolling hills and ridges. The soil cover is composed of till.

Climate of Iowa
The climate of Iowa does not vary much from region to region. It has a humid continental climate across the state and has extremes of both cold and heat. Summers are hot and humid while winters are cold and harsh. Snowfall and tornadoes are common in the state. The annual thunderstorm activity averages 50 days while there are around 37 tornadoes average in a year. The annual rainfall varies from region to region. The southeast region of the state has an annual average of over 38 inches of rainfall while the northwest region has an annual average of less than 28 inches.

Geographical Facts About Iowa


Area 56,276 square miles
Land Area 55,875 square miles
Water Area 401 square miles
Highest point Hawkeye Point at 1,670 feet above sea level
Lowest point Mississippi River at 480 feet above sea level
Highest temperature 118 degrees Fahrenheit
Lowest temperature -47 degrees Fahrenheit
Geographic Center Located in Story County


Hawkeye Point is the highest point in the state. It is followed by Ocheyedan Mound, at 1,611 feet above sea level. Other important peaks in the state are Pilot Knob, Granger Hill, Mount Mosses, and Corn Hill.


Lake Red Rock is a dam which was completed in 1969. It is the largest lake in Iowa and was constructed to control floods in the state. Other important water-bodies in the state are Spirit Lake, West Okoboki Lake, and Clear Lake.


Iowa has many important rivers such as Mississippi River and Missouri River. Mississippi River is the largest river in Northern America. Other major rivers in Iowa are Cedar River, Iowa River, and Des Moines River.

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