List of 27 Landlocked States in the USA 

Located within the continent’s heart, landlocked states have a distinct geographical identity. Unlike coastal states, which enjoy easy access to the sea, landlocked states rely on neighboring states or international borders to reach the ocean. In this comprehensive article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of landlocked states in the USA, examining their types, geographical features, and the impact of their landlocked status.

The United States is home to a diverse array of geographical features, including landlocked states that lack direct access to the ocean. These states face unique challenges and opportunities shaped by their inland locations and reliance on neighboring states for maritime access. From doubly landlocked states, which must pass through two other states to reach the ocean, to the solitary triply landlocked state, each presents distinct characteristics and economic considerations. Understanding the dynamics of these landlocked states provides insights into their resilience, connectivity, and contributions to the broader regional and national economies.

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All Landlocked States in the Contiguous USA

The exclusive presence of landlocked states within the contiguous United States underscores their unique geographical positioning, distinct from states with direct access to coastal waters. Despite their lack of oceanic boundaries, these states offer diverse landscapes and resources, contributing to the nation’s geographic richness.

Seven landlocked states in the USA border the Great Lakes, providing access to significant freshwater resources that play a crucial role in their local economies and ecosystems. This proximity to the Great Lakes offers a unique blend of maritime advantages without direct ocean access, showcasing the versatility of landlocked states in leveraging alternative water resources for economic development and environmental sustainability.

Within the United States, 27 states are designated as landlocked, signifying their lack of direct access to an ocean, gulf, or bay. These states are contiguous, and situated on the mainland of North America. Conversely, the remaining 21 states boast oceanfront access. 

From the rugged terrains of Colorado to the agricultural heartlands of Iowa, these landlocked states showcase a diverse tapestry of landscapes, industries, and cultural heritage that collectively shape the fabric of the United States.

Single LandlockedDouble LandlockedTriple LandlockedTotal Landlocked
Number of Landlocked States in the United States

27 Landlocked States In The United States

The United States boasts a diverse geography, encompassing states with access to various bodies of water and those entirely landlocked. Among these, sixteen states stand as single-landlocked territories, requiring traversing state borders to reach the nearest ocean, gulf, sea, or bay for maritime access. 

Let’s delve into the intricacies of each of these 27 landlocked states:

1. Arizona

Arizona shares its border with California to the west and Mexico to the south, obstructing direct access to the Pacific Ocean. Arizona, located in the Southwestern region, is surrounded by Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, California, and the Mexican states of Baja California and Sonora. Despite its landlocked status, Arizona offers alternatives for ocean access. Residents can reach either the Pacific coast by crossing into California or the Gulf of California via Sonora. Its diverse geography provides opportunities for trade and travel, despite its lack of direct coastal access.

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2. Arkansas

Louisiana intervenes between Arkansas and the Gulf of Mexico, rendering Arkansas single-landlocked. Situated in the South Central region, Arkansas is surrounded by six other US states, limiting its direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. Instead, it must traverse through neighboring Texas, Louisiana, or Mississippi to reach the Gulf of Mexico, a part of the Atlantic. Despite being landlocked, Arkansas benefits from its location near major waterways, facilitating transportation and commerce.

3. Colorado

Colorado finds itself double-landlocked, with New Mexico and Mexico impeding access to the Atlantic Ocean. Colorado faces unique ocean access challenges as a doubly landlocked state located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Surrounded by six neighboring states—Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Utah—Colorado’s path to maritime routes requires traversing multiple state borders. Despite its central location within the United States, Colorado’s geographical constraints limit direct access to coastal regions. Instead, residents and businesses must rely on transportation networks and infrastructure in neighboring states to reach the ocean. While Colorado’s landlocked status presents logistical hurdles, its strategic position and robust economy contribute to its resilience and regional significance.

4. Idaho

Idaho stands single-landlocked, with Washington and Oregon posing barriers to direct Pacific Ocean access. Bordered by Montana to the north, Wyoming to the east, and British Columbia (Canada) to the northwest, Idaho has various options for accessing the Pacific Ocean. Routes are available through Oregon or Washington, providing opportunities for trade and tourism despite its landlocked status.

5. Illinois

Despite lakefront access to Lake Michigan, Illinois remains double-landlocked, with Kentucky and Virginia hindering Atlantic Ocean access.

6. Indiana

Similar to Illinois, Indiana is double-landlocked, with Kentucky and Virginia thwarting southern access to the Atlantic Ocean.

Also Read: Largest Landlocked Countries In the World

7. Iowa

Iowa faces double-landlocked conditions regarding direct ocean access, with Minnesota and Canada lying between the state and the Hudson Bay. Additionally, Iowa is triple-landlocked at its southern tip, with Illinois, Kentucky, and Virginia obstructing Atlantic Ocean access.

8. Kansas

The Gulf of Mexico remains elusive for Kansas, with Oklahoma and Texas acting as intermediaries. Situated in the heart of the Great Plains, Kansas is a doubly landlocked state that faces similar challenges when accessing the ocean. Bordered by Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Colorado, Kansas’ geographic position necessitates passing through neighboring states to reach maritime routes. Despite its inland location, Kansas plays a crucial role in the nation’s transportation network and agricultural sector. While the lack of direct coastal access presents logistical challenges, Kansas leverages its strategic location and infrastructure to facilitate trade and commerce within the broader regional economy.

9. Kentucky

Virginia stands as the barrier to Atlantic Ocean access for Kentucky, rendering it single-landlocked. Adjacent to Tennessee, Kentucky connects to the Atlantic Ocean through neighboring Virginia. While lacking direct coastal access, Kentucky benefits from its central location and robust transportation infrastructure, supporting economic activities and regional connectivity.

10. Michigan

Canada serves as the blockade for Michigan’s access to Hudson Bay. Michigan fronts four of the Great Lakes, indirectly linking it to the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence River. Located above Ohio, Michigan boasts shores along four of the Great Lakes: Huron, Erie, Superior, and Michigan. While considered landlocked, Michigan’s extensive lakeshores offer significant opportunities for shipping, recreation, and economic development.

11. Minnesota

Minnesota stands as a single-landlocked state, with Canada obstructing access to the Hudson Bay. Minnesota also fronts Lake Superior. Although it borders Lake Superior, Minnesota is still considered landlocked. Potential routes to the Atlantic Ocean include James Bay through Ontario or Hudson Bay through Manitoba. Despite its inland location, Minnesota’s access to major water bodies contributes to its economy and quality of life.

12. Missouri

Missouri faces double-landlocked circumstances, with Arkansas and Louisiana lying between the state and the Gulf of Mexico.

13. Montana

Montana finds itself single-landlocked, sharing a border with Canada. Access to the Pacific Ocean is through British Columbia. Sharing a land border with Idaho, Montana can access the Pacific Ocean through British Columbia. While landlocked, Montana’s geographical features, including rivers and mountains, have historically influenced trade and settlement patterns in the region.

14. Nebraska

Nebraska holds the distinction of being the sole triple-landlocked state in the United States. The closest ocean access is through Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to the Gulf of Mexico.

Among the diverse array of states in the United States, one stands out uniquely: Nebraska. It holds the distinction of being the sole state in the country that finds itself triple-landlocked. This means that Nebraska is bordered by three other states or Canadian provinces, creating a geographical barrier that blocks direct access to any ocean or port. Situated in the heart of the Great Plains region, Nebraska’s landlocked status underscores its isolation from maritime trade routes and coastal resources. Despite its lack of coastline, Nebraska boasts its own distinct charm and importance within the country, with its rich agricultural landscapes and vibrant communities contributing to its unique identity.

With borders shared with South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming, Nebraska’s path to the ocean requires traversing multiple state lines. Despite its landlocked status, Nebraska boasts a diverse economy driven by agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation industries. While the absence of direct coastal access poses logistical challenges, Nebraska’s strategic location and robust infrastructure contribute to its economic resilience and connectivity within the broader regional and national economies. 

Also Read: Landlocked Countries In Asia

15. Nevada

Nevada, single-landlocked, finds its nearest ocean, the Pacific Ocean, via California. Bordering Arizona to the northwest, Nevada can also access the Pacific Ocean through California or Oregon. Despite its lack of direct coastal access, Nevada’s strategic location and transportation networks contribute to its economic resilience and development.

16. New Mexico

New Mexico is a single-landlocked state with Texas obstructing access to the Gulf of Mexico. Arizona’s immediate neighbor to the east, New Mexico, connects to either the Gulf of California through Texas or the Gulf of Mexico through Sonora. Despite its inland location, New Mexico benefits from its diverse economy and strategic position within the Southwest region.

17. North Dakota

To reach the Hudson Bay, residents of North Dakota must traverse through the Canadian province of Manitoba. Sandwiched between Montana and Minnesota, North Dakota lacks direct access to the ocean, remaining completely landlocked. However, its central location and natural resources have historically supported agriculture, energy production, and trade within the region.

18. Ohio

Ocean access for Ohio is via Canada’s Ontario province to the Hudson Bay. Ohio is double-landlocked within the U.S., with access to the Atlantic Ocean via West Virginia and Virginia.

19. Oklahoma

Texas serves as the barrier between Oklahoma and the Gulf of Mexico.

20. Pennsylvania

New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and Maryland stand between Pennsylvania and the Atlantic Ocean. A small portion of Pennsylvania fronts Lake Erie.

21. South Dakota

North Dakota and Manitoba create barriers between South Dakota and the Hudson Bay.

22. Tennessee

Tennessee has access to the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico through six neighboring states. The Atlantic Ocean is accessed through Georgia, Virginia, or North Carolina, while the Gulf of Mexico is accessed through Mississippi or Alabama.

23. Utah

Utah faces double-landlocked conditions, with Nevada and California blocking access to the Pacific Ocean.

24. Vermont

Surrounded by three states to its east, west, and south, and Canadian provinces to the north, Vermont gains access to the Atlantic Ocean through New Hampshire, New York, and Massachusetts.

25. West Virginia

Virginia and Maryland serve as gateways to the Atlantic Ocean for West Virginia.

26. Wisconsin

Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario lie between Wisconsin and the Hudson Bay. Wisconsin also fronts Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.

27. Wyoming

Wyoming faces double-landlocked conditions, with Idaho and Oregon blocking access to the Pacific Ocean. Understanding the complexities of landlocked states elucidates the geographical diversity and challenges within the United States. As the only triply landlocked state in the USA, Wyoming faces unique geographical constraints in accessing the ocean. Surrounded by Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, Wyoming’s path to maritime routes involves crossing two other states. Despite its inland location, Wyoming boasts abundant natural resources, including energy and minerals, contributing to its economic significance. While the lack of direct coastal access presents logistical challenges, Wyoming’s strategic position and resource-rich landscape support its resilience and economic diversification efforts within the broader regional and national economies.

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Single Landlocked States

The following 16 states have one other state or Canadian province that blocks direct access to an ocean or port:

  1. Arizona
  2. Arkansas
  3. Idaho
  4. Kentucky
  5. Michigan
  6. Minnesota
  7. Montana
  8. Nevada
  9. New Mexico
  10. North Dakota
  11. Ohio
  12. Oklahoma
  13. Pennsylvania
  14. Tennessee
  15. Vermont
  16. West Virginia

Double Landlocked States

Among the landlocked states, ten are double-landlocked, adding an extra layer of geographic complexity to their access to coastal waters.

  1. Colorado
  2. Illinois
  3. Indiana
  4. Iowa
  5. Kansas
  6. Missouri
  7. South Dakota
  8. Utah
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Wyoming

Triple Landlocked States

Nebraska stands as the sole triple-landlocked state in the USA, surrounded by multiple layers of landlocked states before reaching an ocean or sea.

Also Read: Landlocked Countries in Africa

The Ratio of Landlocked to Non-Landlocked States in the Contiguous US

Within the contiguous United States, which excludes Alaska and Hawaii, there are a total of 48 states. Among these, 27 states do not directly border an ocean, while 21 states do. This yields a ratio of landlocked to non-landlocked states of 9:7, highlighting the prevalence of ocean-bordering states within the contiguous US.

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Landlocked states may lack direct ocean access, but they possess their beauty, culture, and significance. From the majestic Rockies to the Great Plains, these states contribute to the rich variety of the American landscape.

In conclusion, the landlocked states of the United States embody resilience, ingenuity, and interconnectedness within the nation’s diverse geographical landscape. While facing logistical challenges in accessing maritime routes, these states leverage strategic locations, robust infrastructure, and resourceful economies to overcome obstacles and thrive within broader regional and national contexts. 

From the doubly landlocked states like Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska, to the solitary triply landlocked state of Wyoming, each contributes to the rich variety of the American economy and exemplifies the spirit of innovation and adaptability in navigating geographical constraints. By understanding the dynamics of these landlocked states, policymakers, businesses, and individuals can gain valuable insights to inform strategic decisions and foster sustainable growth and prosperity for all. 

Also Read: Largest Lakes in the United States


What Defines a Landlocked State?

A landlocked state does not have a coastline in an open ocean. 

How Does Being Landlocked Impact a State’s Economy?

Being landlocked can present several challenges for a state’s economy:

  • Higher Transportation Costs
  • Trade Delays
  • Dependence on Neighbors
  • Limited Market Access

However, it’s not all negative. Some landlocked states have found ways to mitigate these challenges:

  • Investing in Infrastructure
  • Trade Agreements
  • Focusing on High-Value Exports
  • Developing Regional Trade

Which US Landlocked State is the Most Populous?

The most populous landlocked state in the United States is Missouri.

What is the Largest Landlocked State in the US?

Montana is the largest landlocked state in the United States, covering 147,040 square miles.

How Many Landlocked Countries Are South in America?

There are two landlocked countries in South America (Bolivia and Paraguay).

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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