You know your ABCs, but how well do you know your US states? If you’re like most Americans, you probably breeze through the first few letters of the alphabet when naming all 50 states. But have you given much thought to the states that start with A? There are four states whose names begin with the very first letter of the alphabet: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, and Arkansas. There are four states that cover regions from the Deep South to the Pacific Northwest, but their alphabetical primacy unites them. When you sing the alphabet song or recite the states in order, pause when you reach the first four letters. They contain a lot of history and culture.
Introducing the 4 U.S. States Starting With the Letter A
The 4 U.S. states starting with A may be few, but they represent a diverse range of American geography, culture, and history.
The Heart of Dixie, Alabama joined the Union in 1819 as the 22nd state. So, music genres like blues, gospel, and country are a big part of Alabama’s culture. Montgomery is the capital city, while coastal Mobile is a hub of Creole and Cajun cuisine.
The Last Frontier joined in 1959 as the 49th state. Alaska’s untamed wilderness spans tundra, rainforests, and North America’s tallest peak, Denali. Anchorage is the largest city, a base for adventure travel like dog sledding, flightseeing, and g and whale watching. The native tribes of Alaska, such as the Inuit and Tlingit, uphold cultural traditions.
The Grand Canyon State became a state in 1912 as the 48th. Arizona’s desert scenery is iconic, from the namesake canyon to the saguaro cacti. So, phoenix is the capital and cultural center, with a vibrant food, arts, and nightlife scene. Sedona’s red rock formations and Native American ruins attract spiritual seekers.
The Natural State was the 25th state to join in 1836. Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains and Ouachita forest have hiking and hot springs. Little Rock, the capital, has a riverfront park, Heifer Village, and the Clinton Presidential Library. BBQ ribs and whole hog are popular, along with Southern fried chicken and catfish. So, Bluegrass and folk music are part of the culture.
Alabama: The Heart of Dixie
Its nickname comes from its location at the center of the slave-holding South, the Heart of Dixie. So, this Southern state has a long, rich history and culture.
Bounded by Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi, Alabama’s diverse landscape ranges from the Appalachian Mountains in the north to the Gulf Coast beaches lining the southern border.
One of the most important Civil Rights Movement centers in the world, Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. Montgomery, the capital city, is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began his political career and where Rosa Parks took her famous stand against segregation. Alabama’s oldest city, Mobile, is a port city on the Gulf Coast originating in 1702.
Alabama is home to diverse natural beauty, from the Little River Canyon National Preserve to the white sand beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Huntsville has the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, a popular museum chronicling the history of the U.S. space program.
Alabama’s culture has been strongly influenced by African Americans and their musical heritage. Jazz, blues, and gospel all originated in Alabama. The state honors its musical roots at venues like the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in history, bask on sunny beaches, explore caverns and canyons, or get your fill of Southern cooking and hospitality, Alabama has something for everyone. This charming Southern state will win you over with its natural wonders, musical soul, and proud spirit.
Alaska: The Last Frontier
Alaska is the largest state by area, and one of the least densely populated, earning it the nickname “The Last Frontier.” Covering 663,268 square miles, you could fit Texas, California, and Montana within its borders with room to spare. Most of the state’s 737,438 residents live in the Anchorage metropolitan area.
Alaska has a mostly subarctic climate with long, cold winters and short, cool summers. Average temperatures in the state’s interior range from -60°F in the winter to 80°F in the summer. Along the southern coast, temperatures are moderated by the ocean, ranging from 30 to 60°F in the winter and 55 to 70°F in the summer.
Some of the must-see natural attractions in Alaska include:
- Denali National Park is home to North America’s tallest mountain, Denali. See stunning vistas, grizzly bears, caribou, and golden eagles.
- Glacier Bay National Park is a spectacular bay filled with tidewater glaciers, coastal rainforests, and marine life like humpback whales and sea otters.
- Kenai Fjords National Park, features tidewater glaciers, deep fjords, and marine wildlife like whales, seals, sea otters, and puffins.
While expensive to visit, the natural beauty of Alaska’s vast wilderness, epic glaciers, and abundant wildlife make it a bucket list destination for many. Experience the thrill of dog sledding, flightseeing, bear viewing, and whale watching in America’s last frontier.
Arizona: The Grand Canyon State
Arizona, the Grand Canyon State, is home to one of the greatest natural wonders of the world Grand Canyon. This massive canyon was carved over millions of years by the Colorado River and is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and attains a depth of over a mile. No trip to Arizona is complete without visiting this stunning geologic formation.
The Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon and its environs are included in Grand Canyon National Park. Having been founded in 1919, it is among the United States’ earliest national parks. So, the park sees around 6 million visitors each year, with most flocking to the Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. From there you can view the canyon, hike scenic trails like Bright Angel Trail or Rim Trail, or take a mule ride along the canyon rim. Hike or camp along the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon for an unforgettable experience.
Arkansas: The Natural State
“The Natural State” is how Arkansas is referred to, and the letter A represents it. It’s a gorgeous southern US state. For those who love the great outdoors, Arkansas is a popular travel destination because of its breathtaking natural surroundings.
Much of northern Arkansas is part of the Ozark Mountain region, which is known for its scenic rivers, forests, and jaw-dropping waterfalls. So, some of the tallest waterfalls in the country, including the 210-foot-tall Whitaker Point Falls, are located in this region. The Buffalo, also known as the Buffalo National River, is the first national river of the United States. It flows through the Ozarks region and is a popular spot for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.
Hot Springs National Park
The Ouachita Mountains in central Arkansas are home to Hot Springs, the state of Arkansas National Park, which is well-known for its organic thermal springs. In restored bath houses to the early 1900s, you can enjoy the hot springs on the park’s historical Bathhouse Row. The springs draw people looking for relaxation and well-being because they are also believed to have therapeutic qualities.
Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, is situated on the banks of the Arkansas and offers a variety of cultural and outdoor activities. Explore the River The Market District, go to the William J. Hillary Clinton Presidential Library, or take a stroll over the Big Dam Bridge—one of the country’s longest bicycle and pedestrian bridges. Little Rock’s Central Arkansas location also makes it an excellent starting point for visiting more of the state’s natural wonders.
The breathtaking natural settings of Arkansas, from the Springs of the Ozarks National Park to the Ozark Mountains, will compel you to venture outside and explore. However, adventures in the Natural State abound, including hiking to a waterfall, paddle boarding down a river, and relaxing in a thermal spring. See for yourself the natural beauty of Arkansas; you’ll be happy that this unique state begins with an A!
Here you can also read about other states:
States that start with the K
States that start with the M
Fun Facts About the States
The “A” states Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, and Arkansas as geographically and culturally diverse groups. So, here are some fun facts about these states:
Nicknamed the “Heart of Dixie,” Alabama joined the Union in 1819. Home to historic civil rights sites like the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama is also known for its Southern cuisine like fried green tomatoes and pecan pie. Huntsville, Alabama is nicknamed “Rocket City” for its history in space technology and as the home of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
The largest state by area, Alaska joined in 1959 as the 49th state. Alaska is home to stunning natural scenery like glaciers, fjords, and the Northern Lights. Anchorage is the state’s largest city, while Juneau is the capital city accessible by air or sea. Diverse wildlife, including humpback whales, bald eagles, grizzly bears, and polar bears, can be found in Alaska.
Grand Canyon State Arizona joined in 1912. So, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, the Grand Canyon National Park draws millions of tourists each year in awe of its vibrant cliffs and rock formations. One of the most popular and driest regions in North America is the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. The largest city and capital of the state is Phoenix, and Sedona is well-known for its hiking, mountain biking, as well as New Age spirituality.
The Natural State of Arkansas joined in 1836. There are beautiful outdoor recreation areas in the Quachita and Ozark Mountains. So, the largest city and capital of the state is Little Rock. Arkansas is also well-known for being the birthplace of Walmart in Bentonville and the location of the Little Rock, Arkansas Nine historic site at Little Rock Central College.
The “a” states possess something to offer everyone, from history and culture to breathtaking natural beauty. Which of the following states—the Natural State, the Canyon of the Sun State, the coronary arteries of Dixie, or the Last Frontier—has your favorite fact?
Famous People From the States
Numerous well-known individuals have called the “A” states—Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, and Arkansas—home over the years. So, a handful of the well-known figures from these western and southern states are as follows:
- Kingsland, Arkansas is the birthplace of the renowned “Man in Black,” Johnny Cash. Known for hits like “Ring of Fire” and “I Walk the Line,” Cash is an icon of country music.
- The well-known writer, poet, as well as civil rights activist Maya Angelou was reared in Stamps, Arkansas, but was raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Her early years in Arkansas are recalled in her multi-award-winning memoir, “I Understand Why the Bird in a Cage Sings”.
- Gabby Douglas, the first African American and first US gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics, was born in Newport News, Virginia but grew up and trained in Des Moines, Iowa.
- Senator John McCain, a Vietnam war hero who represented Arizona for over 30 years in Congress, ran for president twice. Known for his “maverick” style and willingness to buck party lines, McCain was a key figure in US politics before he died in 2018.
- Harper Lee, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” was born and raised in Monroeville, Alabama. So, many schools require students to read her classic novel about racial injustice in a small Alabama town.
- These are just a few of the notable people who got their start in the “a” states. From musicians to activists, politicians to authors, these southern and western states have produced more than their fair share of famous Americans. So, the next time you’re stumped in a game of trivia, you might find the answer hails from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, or Arkansas!
Best Places to Visit in the States
The “A” states Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, and Arkansas- offer some fantastic places to visit. So, here are a few of the best spots in these scenic states:
Home to natural wonders like the Gulf Coast beaches and the Appalachian Mountains, Alabama has gorgeous scenery and charming small towns. So, head to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for 32 miles of white sand and turquoise waters. Spot dolphins, go boating, or just relax. In the north, visit Muscle Shoals, the “Hit Recording Capital of the World.” Music legends like Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stones recorded there.
The state is home to dramatic landscapes, massive glaciers, and an abundance of wildlife. Cruise Glacier Bay National Park to see massive tidewater glaciers and whales. So, Denali National Park is stunning, with North America’s tallest mountain, Mount McKinley, and chances to spot bears, moose, caribou, and Dall sheep. The quirky town of Talkeetna is a perfect base for flightseeing tours.
The Grand Canyon state is a natural wonderland. At the Grand Canyon, gaze in awe at the colorful cliffs and buttes. Hike the Bright Angel Trail or view it from the Grand Canyon Railway. Sedona’s red rock formations are spectacular, especially at sunrise and sunset. So, visit Montezuma Castle National Monument to see well-preserved Native American cliff dwellings.
From the Ozark Mountains to President Clinton’s boyhood home, Arkansas offers outdoor adventure and culture. So, in the Ozarks, go hiking, canoeing, or explore the massive Blanchard Springs Caverns, Eureka Springs is an artsy mountain village with cliffside lodgings. Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site commemorates the Little Rock Nine, who bravely integrated the school in 1957.
The “A” states have an amazing array of natural and cultural attractions. So, put them on your travel list and start exploring!
FAQ: Answering Common Questions About the States
You probably have some questions about the five U.S. states that begin with the letter A. So, here are answers to some of the most common questions.
Is Alaska so big for a reason?
Alaska’s interior lies between the Brooks Range on the north and Alaska’s range on the south. It extends nearly all the way from the eastern Canadian border to the western Bering Sea. Before reaching the Bering Sea, the Yukon River and its tributaries traverse this area for thousands of miles.
In Alaska, what are the major cities?
The three biggest cities in the state, Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks, serve as the hubs for air travel and are great places to start explorations of Alaska.
Why is Arizona so hot?
Arizona is higher in elevation and close to the equator.
Elevation also affects temperature. Places tend to stay colder at higher elevations, but they stay hotter at lower elevations. Arizona is mostly a low-elevation state. For example, Phoenix is relatively low at 1,000 feet.
What are some of Arizona’s major landmarks?
Among the most well-known landmarks in Arizona are:
- Among the world’s greatest natural wonders is the Grand Canyon. Saguaro National Park is home to the enormous saguaro cactus.
- Petrified The Forest National Park features landscapes of badlands and colorful petrified wood.
- Native American cliff dwellings can be found in good preservation at Montezuma Castle National Monument.
- One of the biggest desert gardens in the world is the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.
The states that begin with the initial A are listed below. From the East Coast to the West Coast, there are a total of eight states. Despite the apparent alphabetical quirk, every state has a distinct history and culture that are well worth discovering. Who knows, maybe one of these A-states will turn out to be your new favorite destination for a vacation or place to call home. You now have entertaining trivia for everyone to enjoy at your next gathering or game night, at the absolute least. The next time someone challenges you to name all 50 states in alphabetical order, you’ll breeze through the first eight with confidence. Not a bad skill to have for any geography buff or aspiring Jeopardy contestant.