What Are the Farthest Points in the United States?

1903 map of Alaska
Map of Alaska and Siberia, 1903.

Historical Mapps LLC / Getty Images

The northernmost state in the United States is easy to guess: Alaska. But what about the state that is the farthest east? This is a trick question. Although you might guess Maine, technically the answer could be considered Alaska as well.

Determining which state is the farthest north, south, east, and west in the United States depends on your perspective. Are you looking at all 50 states or just the lower 48 contiguous states? Are you considering the way it looks on a map or judging by the lines of latitude and longitude?

Farthest Points in the Entire U.S.

Here's an interesting bit of trivia: Alaska is the state that is the farthest north, east, and west. 

The reason Alaska can be considered the farthest both east and west is that the Aleutian Islands cross the 180-degree meridian of longitude. This places some of the islands in the Eastern Hemisphere and thus degrees east of Greenwich (and the prime meridian). Also, by this definition, the point farthest to the east is right next to the point farthest to the west: literally, where east meets west.

But to be practical and without taking into account the prime meridian, we understand that locations to the left of the map are considered to be west of any points to their right.

This makes the question of which state is the farthest east much more obvious:

  • The easternmost state is Maine at the West Quoddy Head lighthouse (66 degrees 57 minutes west.)
  • The northernmost state is Alaska at Point Barrow (71 degrees 23 minutes north.)
  • The westernmost state is also Alaska at Cape Wrangell on Attu Island (172 degrees 27 minutes east.)
  • The southernmost state is Hawaii at Ka Lae (18 degrees 55 minutes north.)

Farthest Points in the Lower 48 States

If you're considering only the 48 contiguous states, then we eliminate Alaska and Hawaii from the equation.

  • The easternmost state is Maine, marked by the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse (66 degrees 57 minutes west.)
  • The northernmost state is Minnesota at Angle Inlet (49 degrees 23 minutes north.)
  • The westernmost state is Washington at Cape Alava (124 degrees 44 minutes west.)
  • The southernmost state is Florida, marked by a buoy in Key West (24 degrees 32 minutes north.) On the U.S. mainland, it is Cape Sable, Florida (25 degrees 7 minutes north.)

It may appear on the map that Maine is farther north than Minnesota. However, the Angle Inlet of northern Minnesota at 49 degrees 23 minutes north is north of the 49-degree boundary between the United States and Canada. This is well north of any point in Maine, no matter how the map looks. To get there, you either have to cross a lake or the Canadian border.

California makes a showing when intermediate compass points are brought into the equation:

  • The southwesternmost state is California, at Border Field State Park, (34 degrees 31 minutes north, 120 degrees 30 minutes west.)
  • The northwesternmost state is Washington, at Cape Flattery, (48 degrees 23 minutes north, 124 degrees 44 minutes west)
  • The southeasternmost state is Florida, near Card Sound, (25 degrees 17 minutes north, 80 degrees 22 minutes west.)
  • The northeasternmost state is Maine, near Van Buren (47 degrees 14 minutes north, 68 degrees 1 minute west.)
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Your Citation
Rosenberg, Matt. "What Are the Farthest Points in the United States?" ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/states-farthest-north-south-east-west-4071599. Rosenberg, Matt. (2023, April 5). What Are the Farthest Points in the United States? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/states-farthest-north-south-east-west-4071599 Rosenberg, Matt. "What Are the Farthest Points in the United States?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/states-farthest-north-south-east-west-4071599 (accessed May 29, 2023).