Tennessee Land Features

Tennessee borders eight other U.S. states.

Covering more than 42,000 square miles of mostly land, Tennessee is the 36th largest state in the United States. Water covers less than 1,000 square miles of Tennessee’s total area, which includes more than 10,000 streams, five major rivers and approximately 1,350 natural springs and lakes. From east to west, Tennessee is around 440 miles wide and features six primary regions.

Blue Ridge

On the eastern side of the state lies the Blue Ridge. This land region features the Great Smoky Mountains and its neighboring Snowbird and Chilhowee mountain ranges. The mountain peaks throughout these three ranges are some of Tennessee’s highest elevation points. The Great Smoky Mountains also is home to Tennessee’s tallest mountain, Clingman’s Dome, which exceeds 6,600 feet. Most of the other mountain peaks found in the Blue Ridge are around 5,000 feet high.

Appalachian Ridge and Valley

To the east, Tennessee features a part of the Appalachian Highlands region known as the Appalachian Ridge and Valley. The ridge itself is approximately 55 miles long and eventually flows into the valleys below. The Great Valley section of Tennessee boasts rich, fertile lands that are sectioned off by wooded ridges and popular for farming.

Appalachian Plateau

Also part of the Appalachian Highlands is the Cumberland Plateau. The region features several flat-top mountains, with deep, ravine-like valleys in between. Sitting at almost 2,000 feet above sea level, this Appalachian plateau is home to Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga on the Georgia border. On a clear day, visitors can see views of seven different states from the mountain top.

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Highland Rim

Known as both the Pennyroyal Region and Highland Rim, this high, sloped plain of land borders Tennessee’s Nashville Basin. The Highland Rim lies west of the Appalachian Plateau, acting as a natural shield from the elements for the city of Nashville and the surrounding area.

Nashville Basin

Sitting in the fruitful valleys of the Highland Rim, the Nashville Basin is one of Tennessee’s most productive farming communities. It receives the rain run-off from the rim’s sloped lands causing the soils here to be quite fertile and perfect for growing one of the state’s most sought after commodities — tobacco.

Gulf Coastal Plain

In the western section of Tennessee, you’ll find the Gulf Coastal Plan. The largest land region in the state, it encompasses most of the western side in addition to parts of Illinois and beyond into the Gulf of Mexico. Tennessee’s part of the Gulf Coastal Plain is sectioned off into three regions. On the far eastern side of the plain are hills that follow the banks of the Tennessee River. The plain’s western section is narrower with rolling hills and commonly called the Tennessee bottoms. The Delta region is the third section of the large plain, which is primarily the state’s lowlands, swamps and flood regions.