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|Floor elevation||1,800–7,000 ft (550–2,130 m)|
|Length||800 mi (1,300 km)|
|Width||400 mi (640 km)|
|Area||174,000 sq mi (450,000 km2)|
The High Plains are a subregion of the Great Plains mostly in the Western United States, but also partly in the Midwest states of Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota, generally encompassing the western part of the Great Plains before the region reaches the Rocky Mountains. The High Plains are located in eastern Montana, southeastern Wyoming, southwestern South Dakota, western Nebraska, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, eastern New Mexico, western Oklahoma, and to just south of the Texas Panhandle. 1,800 to 7,000 feet (550 to 2,130 m).The southern region of the Western High Plains ecology region contains the geological formation known as Llano Estacado which can be seen from a short distance or on satellite maps. From east to west, the High Plains rise in elevation from around
The term "Great Plains", for the region west of about the 96th or 98th meridian and east of the Rocky Mountains, was not generally used before the early 20th century. Nevin Fenneman's 1916 study, Physiographic Subdivision of the United States,brought the term Great Plains into more widespread usage. Prior to 1916, the region was almost invariably called the High Plains, in contrast to the lower Prairie Plains of the Midwestern states. Today the term "High Plains" is usually used for a subregion instead of the whole of the Great Plains.
The High Plains has a "cold semi-arid" climate—Köppen BSk—receiving between 10–20 inches (250–510 mm) of precipitation annually.
Due to low moisture and high elevation, the High Plains commonly experiences wide ranges and extremes in temperature. The temperature range from day to night is usually 30 °F (~16.5 °C), and 24-hour temperature shifts of 100 °F (~55.5 °C) are possible, as evidenced by a weather event that occurred in Browning, Montana, from 23 January 1916 to 24 January 1916, when the temperature fell from 44 to −56 °F (7 to −49 °C). This is the world record for the greatest temperature change in 24 hours. The region is known for the steady, and sometimes intense, winds that prevail from the west. The winds add a considerable wind chill factor in the winter. The development of wind farms in the High Plains is one of the newest areas of economic development.
The High Plains are anomalously high in elevation. An explanation has recently been proposed to explain this high elevation. As the Farallon plate was subducted into the mantle beneath the region, water trapped in hydrous minerals in the descending slab was forced up into the lower crust above. Within the crust this water caused the hydration of dense garnet and other phases into lower density amphibole and mica minerals. The resulting increase in crustal volume raised the elevation about one mile.
Typical plant communities of the region are shortgrass prairie, prickly pear cacti and scrub. Sagebrush steppe is also present, particularly in high and dry areas closer to the Rocky Mountains.
Agriculture in the forms of cattle ranching and the growing of wheat, corn, and sunflowers is the primary economic activity in the region. The aridity of the region necessitates either dryland farming methods or irrigation; much water for irrigation is drawn from the underlying Ogallala Aquifer, which makes it possible to grow water-intensive crops such as corn, which the region's aridity would otherwise not support.Some areas of the High Plains have significant petroleum and natural gas deposits.
The combination of oil, natural gas, and wind energy along with plentiful underground water, has allowed some areas (such as West Texas) to sustain a range of economic activity, including occasional industry. For example, the ASARCO refinery in Amarillo, Texas has been in operation since 1924 due to the plentiful and inexpensive natural gas and water that are needed in metal ore refining.[ citation needed ]
The High Plains has one of the lowest population densities of any region in the continental United States; Wyoming, for example, has the second lowest population density in the country after Alaska. In contrast to the stagnant population growth in the northern and western High Plains, cities in west Texas have shown sustained growth; Amarillo and Lubbock both have populations near or above 200,000 and continue to grow.[ citation needed ] Smaller towns, on the other hand, often struggle to sustain their population.
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The Great Plains, sometimes simply "the Plains", is a broad expanse of flatland located west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland. It is the southern and main part of the Interior Plains of North America, which also include the tallgrass prairie between the Great Lakes and Appalachian Plateau, and the Taiga Plains and Boreal Plains ecozones in Northern Canada.
In physical geography, a steppe is an ecoregion characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes. Steppe biomes may include:
Muleshoe is a city in Bailey County, Texas, United States. It was founded in 1913, when the Pecos and Northern Texas Railway built an 88-mile (142 km) line from Farwell, Texas, to Lubbock through northern Bailey County. In 1926, Muleshoe was incorporated. Its population was 5,158 at the 2010 census. The county seat of Bailey County, it is home to the National Mule Memorial.
Floydada is a city in and the county seat of Floyd County, Texas, United States. This rural community lies on the high plains of the Llano Estacado in West Texas and is sometimes referred to as the Pumpkin Capital of Texas. The population was 3,038 at the 2010 census, down from 3,676 at the 2000 census.
The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America. It spans nearly all of Nevada, much of Oregon and Utah, and portions of California, Idaho, Wyoming, and Baja California, Mexico. It is noted for both its arid climate and the basin and range topography that varies from the North American low point at Badwater Basin in Death Valley to the highest point of the contiguous United States, less than 100 miles (160 km) away at the summit of Mount Whitney. The region spans several physiographic divisions, biomes, ecoregions, and deserts.
Palo Duro Canyon is a canyon system of the Caprock Escarpment located in the Texas Panhandle near the cities of Amarillo and Canyon. As the second-largest canyon in the United States, it is roughly 120 mi (190 km) long and has an average width of 6 mi (9.7 km), but reaches a width of 20 mi (32 km) at places. Its depth is around 820 ft (250 m), but in some locations, it increases to 1,000 ft (300 m). Palo Duro Canyon has been named "The Grand Canyon of Texas" both for its size and for its dramatic geological features, including the multicolored layers of rock and steep mesa walls, which are similar to those in the Grand Canyon.
The Edwards Plateau is a geographic region at the crossroads of Central, South, and West Texas. It is bounded by the Balcones Fault to the south and east, the Llano Uplift and the Llano Estacado to the north, and the Pecos River and Chihuahuan Desert to the west. San Angelo, Austin, San Antonio, and Del Rio roughly outline the area. The southeast portion of the plateau is known as the Texas Hill Country.
The Interior Plains are a vast physiographic region that spreads across the Laurentian craton of central North America, extending along the east flank of the Rocky Mountains from the Gulf Coast region to the Arctic Beaufort Sea. In Canada, it encompasses the Canadian Prairies separating the Canadian Rockies from the Canadian Shield, as well as the Boreal Plains and Taiga Plains; while in the United States, it includes the Great Plains of the West/Midwest and the tallgrass prairie region to the south of the Great Lakes extending east to the Appalachian Plateau region.
The Llano Estacado, sometimes translated into English as the Staked Plains, is a region in the Southwestern United States that encompasses parts of eastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas. One of the largest mesas or tablelands on the North American continent, the elevation rises from 3,000 feet (900 m) in the southeast to over 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in the northwest, sloping almost uniformly at about 10 feet per mile (1.9 m/km).
West Texas is a loosely defined part of the U.S. state of Texas, generally encompassing the arid and semi-arid lands west of a line drawn between the cities of Wichita Falls, Abilene, and Del Rio.
Cotton Center is an unincorporated community in western Hale County, Texas, United States, located about 12 miles southwest of Hale Center. Until the late 19th century, the Comanche tribe of Native Americans occupied the area. In 1907, with the coming of a branch of the Santa Fe Railroad, a number of farming operations were established. Cotton Center was originally created in 1925 as a consolidated school district, with a small unincorporated community site, containing the school, cotton gins, and various businesses to support the surrounding farms. In 1935, a local post office opened, and the first irrigation well was drilled. By the late 1940s, irrigation wells proliferated, pumping water from the Ogallala Aquifer. The community revolves around farming and is tied together by the school, which as of 2005 had 140 students in prekindergarten through grade 12.
Eastern New Mexico is a physiographic subregion within the U.S. state of New Mexico. The region is sometimes called the "High Plains," or "Eastern Plains ," and was historically referred to as part of the "Great American Desert". The region is largely coterminous with the portion of the Llano Estacado in New Mexico. Portions of Eastern New Mexico's elevation extends to over 4,000 ft (1,200 m). The region is characterized by flat, largely-featureless terrain with the exception of the Pecos River valley and the abrupt breaks along the Mescalero Ridge and northern caprock escarpments of the Llano Estacado. The region typically lacks the high relief of central and northern New Mexico, such as that in the Sangre de Cristo and Sandia mountain ranges. The climate is semi-arid with hot summers and is characterized by significant wind and dust storms in the springtime.
The shortgrass prairie is an ecosystem located in the Great Plains of North America. The two most dominant grasses in the shortgrass prairie are blue grama and buffalograss, the two less dominant grasses in the prairie are greasegrass and sideoats grama. The prairie was formerly maintained by grazing pressure of American bison, which is the keystone species. Due to its semiarid climate, the shortgrass prairie receives on average less precipitation than that of the tall and mixed grass prairies to the east.
The Texas High Plains AVA is an American Viticultural Area located on the Llano Estacado region of Texas. The appellation is the second largest American Viticultural Area in Texas, and covers an area of over 270,000 acres (422 sq mi). Most of the vineyards are on flat terrain at elevations between 3,000 feet (914 m) and 4,000 feet (1,219 m) above sea level. The Texas plains can be extremely dry, so most vineyards are irrigated with water from the Ogallala Aquifer. The hardiness zones are 7a and 7b.
The Geography of Oklahoma encompasses terrain and ecosystems ranging from arid plains to subtropical forests and mountains. Oklahoma contains 10 distinct ecological regions, more per square mile than in any other state by a wide margin. It is situated in the Great Plains and U.S. Interior Highlands region near the geographical center of the 48 contiguous states. Usually considered part of the South Central United States, Oklahoma is bounded on the east by Arkansas and Missouri, on the north by Kansas, on the northwest by Colorado, on the far west by New Mexico, and on the south and near-west by Texas.
The Northern short grasslands includes parts of the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and the American Great Plains states of Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska. One of 867 terrestrial ecoregions defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) further breaks this ecoregion into the Northwestern Glaciated Plains and Northwestern Great Plains.
The Western short grasslands is a temperate grassland ecoregion of the United States.
Needmore is a small unincorporated community in north central Terry County, Texas, United States.
The ecology of the Great Plains is diverse, largely owing to their great size. Differences in rainfall, elevation, and latitude create a variety of habitats including short grass, mixed grass, and tall-grass prairies, and riparian ecosystems.