What are the Four Regions of Texas?

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  • 0:01 One State, Many Features
  • 1:08 Gulf Coastal Plains
  • 2:25 Interior Lowlands &…
  • 3:31 Great Plains
  • 4:35 Basin and Range Region
  • 5:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Andrew Diamond

Andrew has worked as an instructional designer and adjunct instructor. He has a doctorate in higher education and a master's degree in educational psychology.

The geography of Texas is hugely varied, from beaches to mountains. You can break Texas down into four main regions, divided by rivers, escarpments and other natural features.

One State, Many Features

You're the director of a movie in which the main character, Wide McLargevast, is your usual action hero. He chops down huge trees and hangs off cliffs for fun. He is scouted by NASA (obviously) for a highly dangerous mission to Mars. After he's done fighting off the Martians and founding New America, he heads back to Earth. His spaceship is hit by an asteroid, and he's forced to use an emergency escape pod. The escape pod manages to crash into the ocean, and our hero finally washes up on a beach. If you had to pick one state to film this whole movie, which one would it be?

Texas has all the locations you might need: forests, cliffs, mountainous desert that could (with a little CGI) pass for Mars, NASA's Johnson Space Center and even a coastline. The Lone Star state is often divided into four regions: the Gulf Coastal Plains, the Interior Lowlands (also called the North Central Plains), the Great Plains and the Basin and Range (or Mountains and Basins) region. Each region has unique landforms and natural features.

Gulf Coastal Plains

To orient you a bit, the Gulf Coastal Plains region is home to the cities of Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. This region stretches from the Gulf of Mexico west to the Balcones Escarpment. An escarpment is a steep cliff, often created by a break in the planet's crust. It's said that the area is called Balcones because when you look up at the cliffs from down in the plains, the sharp drop-off along the fault line makes the hills look like balconies. The Balcones Escarpment follows the Balcones Fault, and the dramatic cliffs were formed by tectonic shifts. This would be a great place to film Widey hanging by his fingertips from a cliff.

The west and north of this region has rolling hills, tapering off to sea level in the coastal prairies. The coast abuts the Gulf of Mexico, a great place for an escape pod splash-down. This is the wettest region in Texas, with average rainfall of over 40 inches per year. The amount of Texas precipitation decreases the further west you go. The Post Oak Belt and Pine Belt are located in this region and were known for their grassy plains and clusters of hardwood trees, but now most of this area is farmland and pasture. The Blackland Belt in the west is known for its distinctive black soils.

Interior Lowlands & North Central Plains

The North Central Plains; guess where those are? That's right, in the north central part of the state. The elevation across this region, also known as the Interior Lowlands, changes dramatically, from 2,000 feet above sea level in the west, tapering off to low hills to the east. The western portion of this region is made up of the Rolling Plains, part of the southern tip of the American Great Plains, where the topography is gently rolling. The Cross Timbers run north from Texas through Oklahoma and up to Kansas.

Both the Cross Timbers and the Grand Prairie are home to lots of different prairie grasses, but the Cross Timbers also hosts a number of oak varieties, including shinnery, blackjack and post oaks. McLargevast will look burly chopping down those oak trees! The Grand Prairie lies in the east part of this region, bordered on each side by the Eastern and Western Cross Timbers. Native plants in the Grand Prairie include grama and bluestem grasses, juniper, mesquite and oak trees. However, much of this region is now pasture for cattle and farmland.

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