Which States Are Split Into Two Time Zones?

Get the Answer to a Popular U.S. Geography Trivia Question

There are 24 time zones in the world and six of those cover the 50 states that make up the United States. Within those time zones, there are thirteen states that are divided into two time zones.

Quite often, it is just a small portion of a state that is in a different time zone. In the case of South Dakota, Kentucky, and Tennessee, the states are nearly cut in half by the time zone change. This is nothing unusual, as time zones throughout the world zig and zag along the lines of longitude but have no distinct pattern.

Why Are the Time Zones So Crooked? 

It is up to each government to regulate time zones in their country. There are standard time zones for the world, but where those lie exactly and whether to split the country up is a decision made by the individual nations.

For example, in the United States time zones are standardized by Congress. When drawing the lines, they try to avoid splitting metropolitan areas and take other factors into account that might complicate life for the area's residents. Many times, the time zone lines do follow state borders but that is certainly not always the case as we can see with these thirteen states.

2 States Split by Pacific and Mountain Time

The majority of western states are in the Pacific time zone. Idaho and Oregon are the two states that have small portions that follow Mountain time. 

  • Idaho: The entire lower half of Idaho is in the Mountain time zone and only the northern tip of the state uses Pacific time.
  • Oregon: Almost all of Oregon is on Pacific time. Only a small area of the east-central border of the state observes Mountain time.

5 States Split by Mountain and Central Time

From Arizona and New Mexico north to Montana, a large portion of the southwestern and Rocky Mountain states use Mountain time.

This time zone peaks over the borders of a few states, leaving five states with a Central-Mountain time split.

  • Kansas: Only a small sliver of the far western border of Kansas uses Mountain time, the majority of the state is on Central time.
  • Nebraska: The western portion of Nebraska is on Mountain time and most of the state's population uses Central time. The towns of Valentine and North Platte are both in the Central time zone.
  • North Dakota: A small southwestern section of North Dakota is on Mountain time and the rest of the state uses Central.
  • South Dakota: This state is almost cut in half by the two time zones. All of eastern South Dakota is on Central time, while the majority in the west - including Rapid City and the Black Hills - follow Mountain time.
  • Texas : The extreme western corner of Texas that borders New Mexico and Mexico are on Mountain time. This includes the city of El Paso. The rest of the state, including the entire panhandle, is on Central.

5 States Split by Central and Eastern Time

On the other side of the central United States is another time zone line that splits five states between the Central and Eastern time zones.

  • Florida: The majority of Florida's panhandle, including the city of Pensacola, are on Central time. The rest of the state is in the Eastern time zone.
  • Indiana: This state has two small pockets of Central time on the western side. In the north, Gary, Indiana is on Central time because of its proximity to Chicago, though South Bend is on Eastern time. In the southwest, a slightly larger section of Indiana is in the Central zone.
  • Kentucky: Kentucky is cut almost in half by time zones. The western part of the state, including Bowling Green, is on Central while the eastern half, including Louisville and Lexington, is one Eastern time.
  • Michigan: The division between Central and Eastern time zones runs through the middle of Lake Michigan and curves west through Michigan's Upper Peninsula. While the entire Lower Peninsula follows Eastern time, the UP has a sliver of Central time that follows its border with Wisconsin.
  • Tennessee: Just like Kentucky, Tennessee is divided into two distinct time zones. The majority of the western half of the state, including Nashville, is on Central. The eastern half of the state, including Chattanooga, is on Eastern time. 

    And Then There's Alaska

    Alaska's the largest state in the country and it only stands to reason that it is in two time zones. But did you know that Alaska has its own time zone? It's called the Alaska time zone and it covers almost every piece of the state.

    The exception in Alaska are the Aleutian islands and St. Lawrence Island. These are in the Hawaii-Aleutian time zone.