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The westernmost state in the United States has been a geography trivia question for decades. At a glance, Alaska and Hawaii seem like they could both make a claim to the title. But when you look at the details, one clearly stands out as the furthest west.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Alaska stretches further west than Hawaii, making it the westernmost state.

In this article, we’ll look at the geography of Alaska and Hawaii in detail to show why Alaska is unambiguously the furthest west state.

The Western Reaches of Alaska

The Aleutian Islands Extend Far West

When it comes to the westernmost points in the United States, the Aleutian Islands of Alaska are at the top of the list. Stretching out across the Bering Sea, these volcanic islands form a chain that extends over 1,200 miles westward from the Alaskan mainland. The westernmost island, Amatignak Island, is located at approximately 179 degrees west longitude. This means that the Aleutian Islands are not only part of the state of Alaska but also represent the farthest western reaches of the entire United States.

The Aleutian Islands are not only geographically interesting but also hold great historical and cultural significance. The indigenous people of the Aleutian Islands, known as the Unangan, have inhabited these remote islands for thousands of years. Their resilient way of life, shaped by the harsh conditions of the region, has left a lasting impact on the culture and traditions of Alaska.

Alaska’s Mainland Also Reaches Far West

While the Aleutian Islands steal the spotlight when it comes to the westernmost points of Alaska, the state’s mainland also stretches far to the west. The westernmost point of the Alaskan mainland is Cape Wrangell on Attu Island, which lies at approximately 172 degrees west longitude. Attu Island, part of the Near Islands group in the Aleutian Islands, is home to diverse wildlife and offers breathtaking natural landscapes.

Alaska’s vast size and unique geographical position make it a fascinating place for exploration and scientific study. From its towering mountain ranges to its pristine glaciers and abundant wildlife, Alaska truly showcases the wonders of the natural world.

If you’re interested in learning more about the western reaches of Alaska, you can visit the official website of the National Park Service ( to discover more about the Aleutian Islands and their rich history.

Hawaii’s Western Islands

When it comes to the question of which state, Alaska or Hawaii, is further west, the answer might surprise you. While Alaska is commonly associated with being the westernmost state in the United States, there are actually some islands in Hawaii that are even further west than parts of Alaska. In this article, we will explore the westernmost islands of Hawaii and their geographical significance.

The Island of Kauai

Kauai, often referred to as the “Garden Isle,” is the fourth largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is located approximately 2,500 miles west of the mainland United States. Kauai is known for its stunning natural beauty, including towering cliffs, lush rainforests, and pristine beaches. It is also home to the westernmost point of the Hawaiian Islands, known as Kaena Point. This point marks the boundary between the Pacific Ocean and the Hawaiian Islands, and it is a popular spot for hikers and nature enthusiasts.

Midway and Other Minor Islands

In addition to Kauai, there are several other islands in the Hawaiian chain that are considered to be part of the westernmost region. One of these islands is Midway Atoll, which is located approximately 1,300 miles northwest of Honolulu. Midway Atoll is an unincorporated territory of the United States and is known for its rich history and abundant wildlife. It is also a designated National Wildlife Refuge and is home to over 3 million birds, including the endangered Laysan albatross.

Other minor islands in the westernmost region include Nihoa, Necker, and French Frigate Shoals. These islands are located further northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands and are known for their unique ecosystems and remote beauty.

So, while Alaska may be the westernmost state in terms of its mainland, there are certain islands in Hawaii, such as Kauai and Midway Atoll, that are actually further west. This highlights the diverse geography of the Hawaiian Islands and showcases the unique position they hold in relation to the rest of the United States.

Comparing the Westernmost Points

The Western Tip of the Aleutians

When it comes to determining which state, Alaska or Hawaii, is further west, we need to consider the westernmost points of each state. In the case of Alaska, the westernmost point is found along the Aleutian Islands, which stretch for about 1,200 miles from the Alaska Peninsula. The Aleutian Islands are a chain of volcanic islands, and the westernmost point, known as Amatignak Island, lies at approximately 179° 09′ 30″ E longitude.

Amatignak Island is significant not only because of its extreme westerly location but also because it marks the dividing line between the Bering Sea and the North Pacific Ocean. Standing on this remote island, one can truly appreciate Alaska’s vastness and its position as the westernmost state in the United States.

For more information about the Aleutian Islands and their unique geographical features, you can visit the Aleutian Islands website.

Hawaii’s Westernmost Land

While Alaska holds the title for being the westernmost state overall, Hawaii also has its own westernmost point. The westernmost land of Hawaii is the island of Kure, located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Kure Atoll, as it is commonly known, is situated at approximately 178° 23′ 30″ W longitude.

Kure Atoll is a coral reef with a land area of only about 0.01 square miles. It is part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and is home to a diverse range of marine life. Despite its small size, Kure Atoll plays an important role in the ecosystem of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

If you’re curious to learn more about the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the conservation efforts in place to protect this unique region, you can visit the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument website.

Other Factors Supporting Alaska as Furthest West

Alaska’s Time Zone

One of the factors that supports Alaska being further west than Hawaii is the difference in time zones. Alaska is in the Alaska Time Zone, which is UTC-9, while Hawaii is in the Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone, which is UTC-10. This means that when it is noon in Alaska, it is already 1 p.m. in Hawaii. The time difference can be attributed to the fact that Alaska is located further west in terms of longitude.

Continental vs. Oceanic Crust

Another factor to consider is the composition of the landmasses. Alaska is part of the North American continent, which is primarily made up of continental crust. On the other hand, Hawaii is a group of islands formed by volcanic activity and is surrounded by oceanic crust. Continental crust is generally thicker and less dense than oceanic crust. This suggests that Alaska, being part of a larger landmass, extends further west than the Hawaiian islands.

When comparing the longitude of the westernmost points of Alaska and Hawaii, Alaska’s Aleutian Islands stretch further westward. The westernmost point of Alaska is Amatignak Island, located at approximately 179° 7′ E, while the westernmost point of Hawaii is Niihau Island, located at around 160° 10′ W. This substantial difference in longitude further supports the notion that Alaska is indeed further west than Hawaii.

It’s important to note that the concept of “further west” can be subjective depending on the reference point. However, when considering time zones, the composition of landmasses, and the actual longitude measurements, Alaska emerges as the clear winner in the debate of which state is further west.


While both Alaska and Hawaii extend far to the west into the Pacific Ocean, Alaska reaches unambiguously further, with the Aleutian Islands protruding past the 180-degree longitude line. This gives Alaska the distinction of being the westernmost state in the United States.

So the next time someone asks you which state is furthest west, you can confidently say it’s Alaska.

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