Geography of Rexburg, Idaho

By | February 25, 2024

Rexburg, Idaho, located in the eastern part of the state, offers a unique geography characterized by its location in the Snake River Plain, surrounding mountain ranges, and continental climate. Understanding the geography of Rexburg involves exploring its physical features, climate, and environmental context in detail.

Geographical Location:

Rexburg is located in Madison County, Idaho, approximately 25 miles northeast of Idaho Falls and 88 miles west of Yellowstone National Park. The city is located in the eastern part of the Snake River Plain, a vast, flat region stretching across southern Idaho between the Rocky Mountains to the east and the Columbia Plateau to the west. Rexburg is surrounded by several mountain ranges, including the Tetons to the east and the Big Hole Mountains to the north.

Topography:

The topography of Rexburg is characterized by its relatively flat terrain, punctuated by occasional hills, ridges, and buttes. The city sits at an elevation of approximately 4,865 feet (1,483 meters) above sea level, with the surrounding landscape gradually sloping toward the Snake River Plain to the south and the mountain ranges to the east, north, and west.

To the east of Rexburg, the Teton Range rises dramatically from the Snake River Plain, forming a prominent backdrop to the city’s skyline. The Tetons are a rugged mountain range known for their towering peaks, deep valleys, and alpine terrain, including the iconic Grand Teton, which rises to an elevation of 13,770 feet (4,197 meters) above sea level.

To the north of Rexburg lies the Big Hole Mountains, a subrange of the Rocky Mountains, characterized by forested slopes, deep valleys, and rugged terrain. The Big Hole Mountains offer recreational opportunities for hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing, including opportunities to observe elk, deer, moose, and other wildlife species.

Waterways:

Rexburg’s geography is defined by its proximity to the Snake River, a major waterway that flows through the Snake River Plain and serves as a central feature of the region’s landscape. The Snake River originates in Wyoming and flows westward through Idaho before eventually joining the Columbia River in Washington.

The Snake River provides important freshwater resources for the region, supporting agriculture, industry, and recreation. In addition to the Snake River, Rexburg is surrounded by several smaller waterways, including creeks, streams, and rivers that flow into the Snake River and its tributaries.

Climate:

Rexburg experiences a continental climate, characterized by hot, dry summers and cold, snowy winters, with distinct seasonal variations in temperature and precipitation. The region’s climate is influenced by its inland location, high elevation, and proximity to the Rocky Mountains, which contribute to its continental weather patterns.

Summer temperatures in Rexburg are typically warm to hot, with average high temperatures ranging from the upper 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (around 25-28 degrees Celsius). However, temperatures can occasionally exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) during periods of high heat. Summer evenings are generally cool and comfortable, with overnight lows in the 50s to 60s Fahrenheit (around 10-15 degrees Celsius).

Winter temperatures in Rexburg are cold and snowy, with average high temperatures ranging from the upper 20s to low 30s Fahrenheit (around -2 to 0 degrees Celsius) and lows in the single digits to teens Fahrenheit (around -15 to -9 degrees Celsius). Snowfall is common during the winter months, with the region receiving an average of around 50 to 60 inches (around 127 to 152 centimeters) of snowfall annually.

Spring and fall are transitional seasons characterized by fluctuating temperatures and changing weather patterns. These seasons offer mild weather and moderate precipitation, making them ideal times to enjoy outdoor activities and events in Rexburg.

Precipitation:

Rexburg receives moderate precipitation throughout the year, with the majority of rainfall occurring during the spring and summer months. Annual precipitation totals in Rexburg average around 12 to 15 inches (around 305 to 381 millimeters), with most of the precipitation falling as rain during the warmer months.

Thunderstorms are common in Rexburg, particularly during the spring and summer months when atmospheric instability and moisture combine to produce convective storms. These storms can bring heavy rain, strong winds, hail, and occasional lightning, posing risks to outdoor activities and agriculture in the region.

Natural Hazards:

Rexburg is susceptible to a variety of natural hazards, including severe weather events such as thunderstorms, winter storms, and occasional earthquakes. Thunderstorms are a common occurrence in the region, particularly during the spring and summer months, and can bring heavy rain, strong winds, hail, and occasional lightning. Winter storms can also pose risks to residents and property in Rexburg, particularly during periods of heavy snowfall and icy conditions.

While earthquakes are less common in Rexburg than other parts of Idaho, the region is located near several active fault lines, including the Teton Fault to the east and the Lost River Fault to the west. These faults have the potential to produce earthquakes of varying magnitudes, posing risks to infrastructure and public safety in the region.

Vegetation and Wildlife:

The natural vegetation of Rexburg and its surrounding areas consists primarily of grasslands, sagebrush, and shrublands, characteristic of the high desert environment of the Snake River Plain. Native plant species include sagebrush, bitterbrush, rabbitbrush, and various species of grasses adapted to the region’s dry climate and rocky terrain.

Rexburg is home to a diverse array of wildlife adapted to the region’s semi-arid environment, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Common mammal species include deer, elk, coyotes, rabbits, and various species of rodents. Birdwatchers can spot a wide range of avian species, including raptors, songbirds, waterfowl, and migratory birds passing through the region.

The Snake River and its tributaries provide important habitat for fish, including trout, bass, and other freshwater species, as well as amphibians such as frogs and salamanders. Riparian habitats along the riverbanks support a variety of wildlife, including beavers, otters, and various species of birds and mammals.

Environmental Conservation:

Rexburg is committed to environmental conservation and sustainable development practices aimed at preserving its natural resources and promoting responsible stewardship of the environment. The city collaborates with local organizations, government agencies, and community stakeholders to develop and implement initiatives that support conservation goals and promote environmental awareness.

Efforts to protect and restore natural habitats, manage water quality, and conserve wildlife are priorities for Rexburg’s sustainability initiatives. The city also participates in regional conservation efforts aimed at preserving open space, protecting sensitive habitats, and promoting environmental education and outreach programs for residents and visitors.