The Sweltering Southwest Region

Contributor: Ryann Maginn. Lesson ID: 12563

The Southwest Region of the United States is a hotbed of heat, arid conditions, and remarkable beauty! It's also home to the world's biggest hole in the ground! Take a "steppe" toward discovering it!


United States

learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio: Image - Button Play
Image - Lession Started Image - Button Start

What do you think this odd formation is called, and where might you find one?

It’s called a mesa.

These land formations are hills with a flat top. A butte, a steep hill of rock with a flat top, is considered a smaller version of a mesa. These can be found in the southwest region of the United States. Other regions in the world are known to have mesas, including Spain, Sardinia, North and South Africa, Arabia, India, and Australia.


The southwest region contains many other landforms as well. This region is composed of four states:

  1. Texas
  2. Oklahoma
  3. New Mexico
  4. Arizona

These states are considered to have a semi-arid steppe climate in the western area and more humid climate in the east. In addition, some of the regions farther west have an alpine or desert climate.


  • Semi-arid steppe climate that is semi-dry and typically gets less than 20 inches of rain per year
  • Alpine average climate for regions above the tree line. Extremely cold and dry throughout the year.
  • Desert climate climate that receives less than 10 inches of precipitation a year, making it impossible to sustain vegetation in the area

To learn more about climates around the world, watch this video, World Biomes: An Introduction to Climate, by Take notes of any interesting facts you learn while watching:

Image - Video


Major geographical features

Rocky Mountains — In this region, these mountains can be found in parts of New Mexico:

Rocky Mountains

Colorado River — In the southwest region, this river is located in parts of Arizona:

Colorado River

Grand Canyon — located in Arizona:

Grand Canyon

Gulf of Mexico — In this region, the Gulf of Mexico is found in Texas:

Gulf of Mexico

Central Plains in Oklahoma:

Central Plains

The southwest region is considered to lie in the “rain shadow” because it is on the dry side of the mountains that block the ocean air. This effect creates a dry climate with lower precipitation. If it rains, it is typically in bursts. This region is also well known for the minerals, fuels, and forests it contains.

For more information about the southwest region, watch Inspector Gadget as he explores different landforms throughout this region in Inspector Gadget's Field Trip: Southwest U.S.- The American Southwest. Be prepared to answer the questions that follow the video below:

Image - Video


Answer the following question as you follow along with the video:

Image - Video

Consider why people would want to live in this region.

  • Would you want to live in the Southwest?

Now that you learned a bit more from Inspector Gadget, move on to the Got It? section to test your knowledge of what you've learned about the Southwest so far.

Image - Button Next