I-40 Elevation Map: What Is The Highest Elevation On I-40?

As you already know, the odd-numbered interstate highways run North & South, while the even-numbered interstate highways run east and west. In many cases, the East-West highways have you driving through some interesting terrain that can rise and fall fairly sharply or at least give you more curves than you want.

The highest elevation along the I-40 is just west of exit 190 which is also west of Flagstaff. The highway reaches 7,320 feet at this point. As one interesting point of fact, this highway goes through the Navajo Reservation but you have 4 lanes to make driving safer.

To learn more about the elevation of this Interstate highway, just continue to read our article. It explores the topic so you can be prepared to drive this highway with ease. While 7320 feet is the highest elevation, you have to watch out more for the curves than anything else.

I-40 Elevation Map

As you can see by the following image, the Continental Divide gives Flagstaff elevation a run for its money. It is only 92 feet lower.


The problem with posting an elevation map is that these maps do not cover the entire 2000+ miles of the highway. They usually go state by state. It would be best to do some research on the states you plan to go through on this highway. That way you will get the full story.

Here is a color-coded elevation map that should give you a good idea of what you will be facing when you drive this interstate highway.


All you would need to do is locate the 1-40’s route and see which color the highway has at that point. As you can see there are a couple of steep spots in the west but the 1-40 only goes to Barstow giving a little reprieve on your driving.

What is The Highest Elevation On I-40?


The highest elevation point on this interstate highway is near Flagstaff, AZ. The road reaches 7320 feet high and if you want that in meters, it is 2240 meters high. It is a daunting climb for most RVers but it should be a 4-lane highway helping you to avoid blocking faster traffic.

If you are coming from the east, you may think the continental divide is higher but it misses that record by only 92 feet. Make sure to check your brakes when you are on the downside of these heights.

There should be runaway lanes along the highway just in case your brakes fail. Some RV owners who have traveled this highway report that it is the curves that you have to worry about the most.

Some can be fairly sharp. Also, you need to watch out for accidents and rock slides. Those are everyday risks that can pop up at any time.

Coordinates The Highest Elevation I-40

On one elevation website, they list the highest elevation point as 7349 feet and they may be a bit off in their calculations. The coordinates for this high point are Lng:-111.75085549765623 Lat:35.195794157243455.

You can go to this link and find the elevation points for the entire highway if you are not traveling past New Mexico. If you are not sure how much area a minute of latitude covers, 1 minute of latitude equals 1 nautical mile or 1.853 km.

A nautical mile equals 1.15 miles so that should help you get your bearings as you drive. If you are wanting to use Google Maps and are not sure how to use that feature to find elevation, here is a link to some good instructions.

Just place the location you want to know about in the search box to get to the point along the highway you want to know about.

How High is The I40 In New Mexico?

The continental divide goes through this state and it does bring roads to some very high elevations. While you may think it can’t get any worse than this, it will once you cross over into Arizona.

Fortunately, the continental divide brings this interstate to only 7275 feet or 2217 meters. You will find that different websites will report different elevations. They may be estimating the height and all figures may be close but not exact.

As an example, the first image above shows an elevation of 7228 feet which is only 92 feet shorter than the Flagstaff location. In the website we used for this and the Flagstaff sections of the highway, you will notice that the elevation numbers are a bit different.

7349 for Flagstaff compared to 7275 for the continental divide. That is only a 74-foot difference. These figures do mean a lot when you are driving a heavy RV or pulling a heavy trailer.

Elevation Map I-40 In Arizona


It may be best to use the two images we placed above to get an idea of how high the I-40 gets when it crosses into Arizona. Or you can go to this interactive website and use its color coding to get the elevation.

A majority of the figures you will get though will be for the mountain peaks you are passing. But it does give you a good idea of how high you will get before you start your descent.

The average elevation for this state is just over 4000 feet above sea level. That map at that link will also take you to other parts of the 1-40 so you can plan your route to make your drive a little easier.

But, if you like scenery, this may be the best route for you to take. The highway is full of great views that help overcome driving challenges.

Highest Elevation Around Flagstaff on I-40

The highest elevation in this area will fluctuate. It may go down a little bit after the continental divide. The elevation map above says the highway can descend to 4150 feet before you start climbing again on your way to Flagstaff.

After Flagstaff, you will remain at the 7000 feet level for many miles before dropping down to roughly 3100 feet at Kingman. This section of the I-40 has its share of ups and downs that make driving slow and at times a little risky.

Make sure to build in a lot of travel time when you are going through this section as you may not get up to speed going up those hills. You may have to brake a lot going down.

The main delays for this section of highway will be accidents and rock slides so be careful when going around those curves. Some of the curves are very sharp and it is hard to see what is on the other side.

The Highest Elevation on I-40 in NC

At Asheville North Carolina, you will see a rise of only 2051 feet, and the coordinates for this location as-- Longitude: -82.572985 & Latitude: 35.562399.

The map we linked to for Arizona will provide elevations for this state as well. Use the color coding graph on the side of the map to get the proper elevation for all points along the North Carolina I-40 highway.

Asheville seems to be located in the highest elevation of the state where this interstate is concerned. After passing that city, you should have a relatively smooth drive to the East Coast.

The West direction will have more flat spots than hills but double-check the elevation before you get there. Heading West is one challenge after another as the mountains vary in height as does the road. According to some RV owners who have traveled this highway, the incline is not that bad.

The Highest Elevation on I-40 in Tennessee


After you get past the Smokey Mountains, it is a smooth drive to the Oklahoma border. We did not see any elevation in this state that went over 1000 feet above sea level till it reached the neighboring state.

The climb could be gradual and you may not notice it but until you cross the border from Tennessee you should not experience any difficult climbs. It is not till you get to New Mexico that the climb will become more difficult and last for about 500 miles.

Just use the interactive map we linked for Arizona to help you find the elevation for the western part of the state. This will probably be the easiest portion of I-40 except for the part running to the North Carolina coastline.

The scenery may be more to your liking as well. It is supposed to be a beautiful drive along that stretch of highway.

The Highest Elevation On I-40 Between Knoxville And Asheville

If you are beginning in Knoxville, then you will have smooth sailing until you turn South to Asheville. The elevation for this highway in this stretch of the road is under 1000 feet.

This route is said to be the flattest route in the state and you should not climb above 900 feet at any one time. This portion of the I-40 is not as bad to drive as the portions in New Mexico and Arizona. As usual, just watch out for the curves and obey the different speed zone signs to be safe.

Again, use the map we linked to in the Arizona section. It is very helpful and provides you with a lot of information concerning elevation. Since you are going through the mountains you should see a lot of good scenery without overworking your self-drive RV or tow vehicle.

I-40 Colorado Elevation

The good news is that you will not have to go through this state on the 1-40. This interstate travels south of the state and does not come close to it for at least 200 miles +/-.

The elevation of that state’s interstate highways can reach approx. 8000 to 10,000 feet based on the color-coded map we have been using for all of these states.

There are other interstate highways that connect to the I-40 if you want to take a detour and see what that state has to offer. Those connecting interstates will have a variety of elevations so check the maps we have linked to get an idea of what you will be facing as you take that detour.

The route to Colorado and back to New Mexico will be the same so make mental notes of road conditions, etc. Safe driving is the key and make sure you do not impede other travelers.

Elevation Change Driving I-10 vs I-40


Driving from Tucson to El Paso Texas, you will encounter some of the same steepness you encountered on the 1-40. That stretch of highway does reach about 7241 feet but it is not sure if that is the road elevation or the mountain peak’s elevation.

Once you get to Tuscon, you will be climbing from roughly 2000 feet to 7241 in that short distance. But after El Paso, you will be experiencing more flat roads than the 1-40.

The mountains are mostly along the I-40 and will be slower going. You can make up time by using the I-10 for most of your journey. If seeing the mountains is not new to you or not something you want to do, then drop down to the I-10 for smoother traveling.

You won’t escape the continental divide if you are traveling to or from the West. Those highways can take their toll on your self-drive RV or your tow vehicle.

Some Additional Words

The best thing to do when you are planning a trip out West is to look at all your options. Some RV owners travel the I-40 just to say they did it once and then go to the I-10 for a better time and a more enjoyable drive.

Pick the Interstate you like the best that serves your needs. They both get you to where you are going and provide some unique scenery along the way. With fuel prices the way they are, it might be best to save the I-40 for that time the prices drop.

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