US States Map > Map of Tennessee > Tennessee Geography

Tennessee Geography

by Vishul Malik

Geographical Facts About Tennessee Area 42,143 square miles Land Area 41,220 square miles Water Area 926 square miles Highest Point Clingman’s Dome (6,643 feet above sea level) Lowest Point Mississippi…

Geographical Facts About Tennessee

Area 42,143 square miles
Land Area 41,220 square miles
Water Area 926 square miles
Highest Point Clingman’s Dome (6,643 feet above sea level)
Lowest Point Mississippi River at (178 feet)
Geographic Center Rutherford County

General Features

Located in the southeastern United States, Tennessee is bordered by Kentucky and Virginia on the north and by North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, on the south. It borders Tennessee North Carolina on the east and on the west, the state is bordered by Missouri and Arkansas. The geographic center of the state is in Rutherford County. Most of the caves in the United States can be found in Tennessee; there are over 8,350 caves registered in the state.
Tennessee is geographically and constitutionally divided into three Grand Divisions: East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee.

The state has six principal physiographic regions:

The Blue Ridge

: Lying on the eastern edge of Tennessee, on the border of North Carolina, the area is characterized by high mountains, including the Snowbird Mountains, Great Smoky Mountains, and the Chilhowee Mountains. The highest point of the state, Clingman’s Dome is situated in this region. The average elevation of the Blue Ridge area is 5,000 feet above sea level.

The Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region

: The area stretching west from the Blue Ridge for fifty-five miles is called the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region. This region is covered by fertile valleys such as Clinch Mountain and Bay Mountain. The valleys become broader and the ridges become lower in the western section of the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region, and this area is called The Great Valley.

The Cumberland Plateau

: Also called the Appalachian Plateau, the Cumberland Plateau lies to the west of the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region. The area is characterized by flat-topped mountains separated by sharp valleys. The elevation of the Cumberland Plateau ranges from 450 meters to over 600 meters above sea level.

The Highland Rim

: Lying to the west of the Appalachian Plateau, the Highland Rim is an elevated plain that surrounds the Nashville Basin that is distinguished by rich, fertile country and great diversity of natural wildlife. The northern section of the region is well known for high tobacco production and is often called the Pennyroyal Region.

The Nashville Basin

: The area is a rich fertile farm country and is surrounded by the steep slopes of the Highland Rim.

The Gulf Coastal Plain

: The predominant land region in Tennessee, the Gulf Coastal Plain lies to the west of the Highland Rim and the Nashville Basin including the Mississippi embayment. It is divided into three sections that extend from the Tennessee River in the east to the Mississippi River in the west.

Climate of Tennessee

Most of the areas in the state have a humid subtropical climate, with the exception of some places in the Appalachians, that have a mountain temperate climate or a humid continental climate due to cooler temperatures. Generally, Tennessee has hot summers and mild winters with little precipitation throughout the year (130 centimeters). There is also snowfall in the higher mountains in East Tennessee.

The monthly average temperatures range from 91.5 degrees to as low as 27.8 degrees. The highest recorded temperature in the state is 113 °F at Perryville on August 9, 1930 while the lowest recorded temperature is â^’32 °F at Mountain City on December 30, 1917. The state is prone to tropical cyclones, thunderstorms, tornadoes and ice storms. On an average, about fifty days in a year the state has thunderstorms. Fog is a continuous problem in parts of the state like the Smoky Mountains.


The landscape of Tennessee is characterized by many mountains and valleys. The major peaks in the state are:

  • Great Smoky Mountains
  • Big Frog Mountain
  • Mount Cammerer
  • Mount Collins
  • Clinch Mountain
  • Holston Mountain
  • Mount Kephart
  • Lookout Mountain
  • Pine Mountain
  • Powell Mountain


The state of Tennessee has many rivers, water-bodies and lakes. Tennessee River is the largest tributary of Ohio River. The other major rivers in the state are:

  • Bald River
  • Beech River
  • Tennessee River
  • Mississippi River
  • Cumberland River
  • Clinch River
  • Duck River
  • Buffalo River
  • Green River
  • Holston River
  • Obion River
  • Pigeon River
  • Sequatchie River
  • Rocky River
  • Wolf River


There are over 60000 stream miles and some 540000 lakes in Tennessee. Major Lakes in the state are:

  • Kentucky Lake
  • Norris Lake
  • Chickamauga Lake
  • Cherokee Lake
  • Tims Ford Reservoir
  • Mud Lake
  • Reelfoot Lake
  • Watauga Lake

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