Butte Landforms


Butte Landforms Have 3 Main Characteristics:

  1. Steep or vertical sides
  2. Flat top
  3. Height above ground is greater than its width

Example of a Butte Landform:

The picture above is Butte in Monument Valley, Navajo Nation, Arizona

What is a Butte Landform?

A butte is a steep hill or cliff made of rock that is mostly flat on top.A butte is smaller than a plateau or mesa, with sides that are vertical or very steep. The height of a butte, when measured from the surrounding land, is usually greater than its width. Some rock formations are called buttes, although they do not conform to the definition.

How are Buttes Formed?

A butte has a top layer of hard rock and softer rock below that is eroded more easily. Erosion forms the butte in the shape of the rock layer on top.

How Big is a Butte?

Generally, a butte is more than 100 feet high and should be taller than it is wide. A butte can stand more than 1000 feet above the ground below.

Famous Buttes

Mitten Buttes, Monument Valley, Arizona, USA
Devil’s Tower, Black Hills, Wyoming
Kachaghakaberd Fortress, Azerbaijan
Courthouse Rock and Jail Rock, Nebraska

The Mitten Buttes of Monument Valley in Arizona are 2 butte rock formations that are seen in many classic western films. They stand about one mile from the Utah border and nearly 1000 feet above the desert floor. The Devil’s Tower is a butte in the Black Hills of northeastern Wyoming, rising nearly 1300 feet above the land. It is a popular rock climbing destination.

An Armenian fortress call Kachaghakaberd was built on top of a butte rock formation during medieval times, now a part of the country of Azerbaijan. It can still be seen there at a height of over 200 feet above the hilltop on which it stands. The fortress was never penetrated and includes secret passages and openings for throwing stones at the enemy.

Courthouse Rock and Jail Rock are two butte rock formations found in western Nebraska that rise to a height of 400 feet. Many pioneers of the 19th century viewed these two rocks on their westward journey and commented on them in their journals.

Butte definition:

A rock formation with vertical or nearly vertical sides that is flat on top and taller than it is wide


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