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North America Plains

Range TypeMiscellaneous physical or political Feature
Highest PointFishers Peak (9627 ft/2934 m)
CountriesCanada (65%), United States (36%)
(numbers are approximate percentage of range area)
Area3,693,786 sq mi / 9,566,905 sq km
Area may include lowland areas
Extent3,094 mi / 4,979 km North-South
3,681 mi / 5,923 km East-West
Center Lat/Long48° 12' N; 95° 28' W
Map LinkMicrosoft Bing Map

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While North America has more than its share of the world's scenic and spectacular mountain ranges, at the same time it also holds a huge chunk of expansive plains and lowlands. The North America Interior Range2 was created to hold together the enormous chunk of largely non-mountainous terrain between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians, and from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

Contrary to the belief of many east and west coast mountain snobs, the country between the Rockies and the Appalachians is not "flat". Truly flat land--land with no topography to speak of--is not as common as most people think. You find it on the Atlantic seaboard south from New Jersey; most of Florida; the entire Gulf Coast; and areas in the Mississippi River valley north to Cairo, IL. Some parts of the great plains, such as the Llano Estacado in Texas and New Mexico, also qualify. Anyone familiar with the Delmarva Peninsula, the Everglades, Louisana's bayous, or the Mississippi Delta country knows the real meaning of the term "flatlands".

Most of the rest of North America from the Rockies to the Appalachians can best be called hilly. This includes most of the Midwest, from the High Plains of the Dakotas all the way to Ohio and Kentucky. It's fashionable to deride the Midwest as being flat, but there are plenty of little ski areas, scenic river gorges, and rolling farmland, even in places like Iowa and Kansas. Similarly, the vast Canadian Shield is also covered with uncountable little rocky hills.

While there there are no large ranges of snow-capped or jagged peaks in this huge area, there are certainly plenty of little ranges, highland areas, and hills. The Torngat Mountains of Labrador, the Adirondacks of New York State (which are not Appalachians), the Ozark Highlands of the mid-South, the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the diseccted mesas and badlands of the High Plains are all worthy little pockets of peaks.

Chances are that you have not heard of Fishers Peak, a 9627 feet summit in Colorado that I am calling the highest point of this area. Conventional wisdom gives Harney Peak, the 7242' foot high point of the Black Hills, the title of highest peak east of the Rockies. However, you can make a very logical and persuasive argument that I-25 and Raton Pass are the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in the Colorado-New Mexico area. If that is the case, then the extensive highland east of Raton Pass, including Fishers Peak and several other 8000-foot summits that extend east towards Oklahoma, is part of the Interior North America Range2.

Map of North America Plains
Click on red triangle icons for links to other ranges.


Note: Range borders shown on map are an approximation and are not authoritative.
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Other Ranges: To go to pages for other ranges either click on the map above, or on range names in the hierarchy snapshot below, which show the parent, siblings, and children of the North America Plains.
North AmericaLevel 1 (Parent)
         Alaska-Yukon RangesLevel 2 (Sibling)
         North America Arctic IslandsLevel 2 (Sibling)
         Pacific RangesLevel 2 (Sibling)
         Intermountain WestLevel 2 (Sibling)
         Rocky MountainsLevel 2 (Sibling)
         North America PlainsLevel 2
                 Canadian ShieldLevel 3 (Child)
                 Great PlainsLevel 3 (Child)
                 Midwest-Great Lakes AreaLevel 3 (Child)
                 Ozark HighlandsLevel 3 (Child)
         Appalachian MountainsLevel 2 (Sibling)
         Central Mexican RangesLevel 2 (Sibling)
         Central America RangesLevel 2 (Sibling)
         Caribbean AreaLevel 2 (Sibling)



Major Peaks of the North America Plains

Ten Highest Peaks
RankPeak NameftmRange3
1.Fishers Peak96272934Great Plains
2.Fishers Peak Mesa96262934Great Plains
3.Bartlett Mesa88822707Great Plains
4.Laughlin Peak88182688Great Plains
5.Sierra Grande87202658Great Plains
6.Johnson Mesa86582639Great Plains
7.Towndrow Peak86242629Great Plains
8.Dale Mountain8480+2585+Great Plains
9.Pine Butte West84352571Great Plains
10.Red Mountain84232567Great Plains
Sub-peaks are excluded from this list. List may not be complete, since only summits in the PBC Database are included.
Child Range High Points
RankPeak NameftmRange3
1.Fishers Peak96272934Great Plains
2.Mount Caubvick54201652Canadian Shield
3.Magazine Mountain2753839Ozark Highlands
4.Eagle Mountain2301701Midwest-Great Lakes Area



Photos of Peaks in the North America Plains

Capulin Mountain
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Capulin Volcano from Highway 325 (2010-08-14). Photo by Peter Stone.
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Odakota Mountain
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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 87: Lupe on summit of Odakota Mountain (2nd highest mountain in the Black Hills), elevation 7,200 ft, on 5-10-14. Bear Mountain visible in distance on right side of photo. White patch seen down in the valley above Lupe and just above center of photo is the little lake near the Boy Scout Camp. Odakota Mountain is strewn with dead Ponderosa pines killed by the mountain pine bark beetle infestation. Photo is looking S (2014-05-10). Photo by Lupe Lunde.
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Bear Mountain
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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 95: Lupe at the N high point prior to going over to the true summit of Medicine Mountain. Bear Mountain is the high ridge in the distance to the SW (2014-09-13). Photo by Lupe Lunde.
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Green Mountain
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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 87: Lupe near summit at SE edge of Green Mountain. The tops of a small portion of the E facing limestone cliffs of Green Mountain are visible in the foreground just beyond Lupe. Harney Peak , the highest mountain in the Black Hills at 7,242 ft. is visible in the background approximately 12 miles to the ESE. To the W, Green Mountain is a long, flat ridge. To the E it drops precipitously down to Gillette Prairie (2014-05-10). Photo by Lupe Lunde.
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Crooks Tower
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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 59 - Lupe on top of Crooks Tower. Photo is looking NNE (2013-05-18). Photo by Lupe Lunde.
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Crows Nest Peak
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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 86: Lupe a couple of hundred feet W of the marker for the summit of Crows Nest Peak. Crows Nest Peak is in the western limestone plateau country of the Black Hills less than 5 miles from the Wyoming border. The surrounding area is gently rolling, but generally so flat that there are no distant views possible of or from the "peak". A red and yellow USFS survey marker in a small clearing in the woods marks the site of a US Geological Survey BM that says "Crow" and "1912" which was buried beneath 6" of snow this day. Without those aides, you would have no idea you were at the summit of the 7th highest point in the Black Hills at 7,048 ft. The surrounding country is nevertheless both remote and beautiful (2014-05-03). Photo by Lupe Lunde.
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Sylvan Hill
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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 89: Lupe on summit of Sylvan Hill. Harney Peak (center left) and Little Devil's Tower (just left of the highest rock on Sylvan Hill) are visible in the background about 3 miles to the ENE (2014-05-17). Photo by Lupe Lunde.
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White Tail Peak
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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 60 - Lupe on top of Whitetail Peak. Photo is looking SE (2013-05-25). Photo by Lupe Lunde.
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Peak 6962
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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 90: Lupe near the summit of Peak 6962 (2014-05-24). Photo by Lupe Lunde.
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Little Devils Tower
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Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 88: Little Devil's Tower (upper left) from Harney Peak. Photo is looking SSW (2014-05-17). Photo by Lupe Lunde.
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