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Geography of North Dakota

by Vishal Kumar

North Dakota is the nineteenth-largest state in the United States covering an area of 70,704 square miles.

Geographical Facts About North Dakota

Area 70,704 square miles
Land Area 68,994 square miles
Water Area 1,710 square miles
Mean Elevation 580 meters
Highest Point White Butte (1,069 meters)
Lowest point Red River (229 meters)
Geographic Center Sheridan County


General Features

North Dakota is a state located in the mid-western region of the United States, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba on the north; by Minnesota on the east, South Dakota on the south; and on the west by Montana.

The eastern and western regions of North Dakota comprises three geographic regions:

  • The Red River Valley:

    Lying on the eastern portion of the state, is a flat region called the Red River Valley. It is one of the most fertile regions in the world ideal for wheat cultivation and other crops.

  • The Drift Prairie:

    Lying to the west of the Red River Valley, is a hilly area called the Drift Prairie. The region consists of hills, streams, valleys, and lakes.

  • The Great Plains:

    Almost half of North Dakota is occupied by the Great Plains. This region is marked by hills and rich mineral deposits are abundant.

  • The south-western part of the state is covered by the Badlands that is a row of beautiful monuments. The highest point in the state, White Butte, lies in the Badlands.

Climate of North Dakota

North Dakota generally has a semi-arid climate. The highest temperature recorded in North Dakota was 49° C, at Steele on July 6, 1936. The state recorded its lowest temperature of -51° C, at Parshall on February 15, 1936. Occasional rainfall, snowfall, hail, blizzards, tornadoes, thunderstorms, and high-velocity straight-line winds are likely to occur.
Flooding in spring is common in the Red River Valley area. The most destructive floods occurred in eastern North Dakota in 1997.


There are over 353 mountain ranges in the state of North Dakota. The highest point in the state is White Butte followed by Black Butte, and Sentinel Butte. The other major mountain ranges in the state include:

  • Camel Butte
  • Killdeer Mountains
  • Tracy Mountain
  • Buck Hill
  • Harvey Hills
  • Prairie Hill
  • Browns Hill
  • Boulder Point
  • Bob Denny Hills


The major rivers in North Dakota are:

  • Missouri River
  • James River
  • Red River
  • Cannonball River
  • Bois de Sioux River
  • Goose River
  • Green River
  • Turtle River
  • Yellowstone River


North Dakota has a number of lakes and reservoirs. The major ones are:

  • Lake Sakakawea
  • Lake Oahe
  • Lake Alice
  • Beaver Lake
  • Lake Arrowhead
  • Devils Lake
  • Horsehead Lake
  • Barnes Lake

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