A landlocked state is a state without direct access to an ocean, gulf, or bay. That is, the territorial boundary does not touch an ocean or whose coastline lies on an enclosed water body with no connection to the world oceans. All the 27 US landlocked states are contiguous states on mainland North America. Sixteen states are singly landlocked, ten are doubly landlocked, and only one is triply landlocked. Residents of these states must pass through at least one US state or neighboring Canadian province or Mexican state to reach an ocean.
The Singly Landlocked States
A singly landlocked state is a state whose access to the ocean is blocked by one other state. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia are categorized as single landlocked states.
- Arizona, in the Southwestern region, is bordered by Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, California, and the Mexican states of Baja California and Sonora. From Arizona, one can access either the Pacific coast by crossing California or the Gulf of California through Sonora.
- Arkansas is located in the South Central region of the US. It is bordered by six other US states and can only access the Gulf of Mexico (part of the Atlantic Ocean) through either Texas, Louisiana, or Mississippi. Other states bordering Arkansas are Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
- Idaho is bounded to the north by Montana, east by Wyoming, and northwest by British Columbia (Canada). However, the state has several alternatives to accessing the Pacific. It can access the ocean to the west through either Oregon or Washington or to the north through British Columbia. However, Oregon and Washington offer the easiest access to the Pacific as they do not involve crossing international borders.
- Kentucky, bordering Tennessee to the north, is also landlocked, with residents accessing the Atlantic Ocean through Virginia.
- Michigan, located above Ohio, is also a landlocked state, with access to the Arctic Ocean (James Bay) through Ontario. However, it is located on the shores of four Great Lakes; Huron, Erie, Superior, and Michigan.
- Although Minnesota borders one of the Great Lakes (Lake Superior), it is a landlocked state, with access to either James Bay through Ontario or Hudson Bay through Manitoba.
- Montana, which shares a land border with Idaho, is also a landlocked state, with access to the Pacific Ocean via British Columbia.
- Nevada borders Arizona to the northwest and can also access the Pacific Ocean through California on the west or Oregon on the northwest.
- New Mexico is a landlocked state and Arizona’s immediate neighbor to the east. However, it is connected to either the Pacific Ocean (Gulf of California) through Texas or the Atlantic Ocean (Gulf of Mexico) through Sonora (Sonora).
- North Dakota is sandwiched between Montana to the west and Minnesota to the east. Below it is South Dakota, and above is Manitoba (Canada), meaning that it has no direct access to the ocean. However, it can access the Arctic Ocean’s Hudson Bay through Manitoba.
- Although Ohio has access to the Atlantic Ocean via Lake Erie and St. Lawrence Seaway, it is still a d landlocked state, separated from James Bay by Ontario.
- Oklahoma is also a landlocked state in the region and can only access the Gulf of Mexico through Texas.
- Pennsylvania can access the Atlantic Ocean through New Jersey, New York, Delaware, or Maryland. Alternatively, its access route to James Bay passes through the Canadian province of Ontario.
- Tennessee is one of the states with most neighbors in the US. It is surrounded by up to eight other states and accesses the Atlantic Ocean either through Georgia, Virginia, or North Caroline, or the Gulf of Mexico through Mississippi or Alabama.
- Vermont, a landlocked state in the New England Region, is enclosed by New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Quebec (Canada). It can access the Atlantic Ocean through any of the three states or the Canadian Province. It can also access James Bay (Arctic Ocean) through Quebec.
- West Virginia is a landlocked state bordered by other landlocked states on the north (Pennsylvania), west (Ohio), and southwest (Kentucky). It can access the Atlantic Ocean either through Virginia on the east or Maryland on the northeast. On the other hand,
The Doubly Landlocked States
A doubly landlocked state is a state that has access to an ocean, bay, or gulf through two other states. Ten states in the US are doubly landlocked and have access to three of the world’s oceans; the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic Oceans.
- Colorado is a doubly landlocked state in the US Mountain West region. It has access to either Gulf of Mexico (Atlantic Ocean) through New Mexico on the south or Oklahoma on the southeast, then Texas, or the Pacific Ocean through Arizona on the southwest then California. Alternatively, it can access the Gulf of California through Arizona and Sonora (Mexico).
- Kansas, bordering Colorado to the east, is also doubly landlocked, with access to the Gulf of Mexico through Oklahoma on the south then Texas further down.
- Illinois a doubly landlocked states on the eastern half of the US. It has access to the Atlantic Ocean through Kentucky and Virginia. It can also access Hudson Bay via Michigan then Ontario (Canada).
- Similarly, Indiana is also located on the eastern part of the country and can access the Atlantic Oceanvia Kentucky and Virginia. Like Illinois, Indiana also has access to the Hudson Bay via Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario.
- Iowa is triply landlocked on the south and doubly landlocked to the north. It accesses James Bay through Minnesota, then Ontario, or Hudson Bay through Minnesota, then Manitoba.
- To the east of Kansas is Missouri, whose access to the Gulf of Mexico is either through Oklahoma and Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana, or Tennessee then Mississippi. Alternatively, it can access the Atlantic Ocean via Kentucky then Virginia.
- Hudson Bay is accessible from South Dakota through North Dakota then Manitoba (Canada). The state also accesses James Bay through Minnesota then Ontario (Canada).
- Utah is also a doubly landlocked state, with access to the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California through other states. The shortest route to the Ocean is through Arizona or Nevada than California. Another alternative route to the Pacific Ocean passes through Idaho, then Oregon, Washington, or British Columbia (Canada). The Gulf of California is accessible from Utah through Arizona then Sonora (Mexico).
- James Bay is accessible from Wisconsin through Minnesota or Michigan then Ontario. Hudson Bay can also be accessed from Wisconsin through either of the two states, then Manitoba (Canada).
- Wyoming, located to the southwest of South Dakota, has several routes to the Pacific Ocean. The ocean is accessible through Idaho, then either Oregon, Washington, or British Columbia. An alternative route passes through Montana and British Columbia.
Triply Landlocked States
- Nebraska, located in the Midwestern region, is the only state whose access to the ocean, bay, or gulf requires traveling through at least three states. From the state, one can access all water bodies surrounding the US by passing through only three territories. The Atlantic Ocean on the east is accessible through Missouri, Tennessee, then North Carolina, Virginia, or Georgia. The Gulf of Mexico can be accessed through Kansas, Oklahoma then Texas. To the Pacific Ocean, one will have to pass through Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon, Washington, or British Columbia. Alternatively, one can travel from Nebraska to Hudson Bay through South and North Dakota and Manitoba (Canada).