Basin and Range Province

December 08, 2015


BR Bottom

Photographer: Thomas McGuire
Summary Author: Thomas McGuire

Large land areas such as the United States can usually be divided into landscape regions based on the general shape and features of the land. Such areas are often classified as plains, plateaus or mountains. North American landscapes include the Appalachian Mountains, the Great Plains and the Colorado Plateau.

But not all landscapes fit into these three categories. For example, the Basin and Range province of the U.S. Southwest is dominated by roughly parallel mountain ranges separated by desert lowlands. The mountains are upthrust blocks of bedrock, eroding to deposit deep sandy soils between them. From space, this unique landscape area has been described as looking like an army of caterpillars marching from Mexico toward Oregon. The photo above shows the Basin and Range area of south-central Arizona as viewed from Scottsdale looking toward the Phoenix Mountains in the far distance. A map of the physical landscapes of the U.S. is below the photo.