The Geography of Wichita Falls, Texas

Wichita Falls is a city located in north central Texas near the Oklahoma border. With a population of over 100,000, it is the principal city of the Wichita Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city’s unique geography and landscape have played an important role in its history and development. In this in-depth guide, we will explore the various geographical aspects of Wichita Falls.

Location and Region

Where is Wichita Falls Located?

Wichita Falls is located in north central Texas, about 125 miles northwest of Fort Worth. It sits on the border between Texas and Oklahoma, just south of the Red River. The city is located in Wichita County, of which it is the county seat.

Some key facts about Wichita Falls’ location:

  • Coordinates: 33°54′N 98°32′W
  • Elevation: 1,000 feet
  • Time zone: Central (CST)
  • Nearest major cities: Oklahoma City, OK (120 miles north); Dallas, TX (120 miles southeast)

Wichita Falls Metropolitan Area

The Wichita Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area covers three counties: Archer, Clay, and Wichita. This area has an estimated population of over 151,000 residents. Wichita Falls serves as the principal city and urban hub of this region.

The metro area covers the following cities and towns:

  • Wichita Falls
  • Burkburnett
  • Electra
  • Iowa Park
  • Pleasant Valley
  • Lakeside City
  • Cashion Community
  • Haynesville

Topography and Landforms

Rolling Plains Geography

Wichita Falls is situated in the Rolling Plains geographic region of Texas. This area is characterized by gently rolling hills, prairies, and scrubland. The topography ranges from nearly flat plains to slightly rugged canyons and escarpments. Elevations range from 900 feet to over 1,500 feet above sea level.

Wichita River Valley

The city lies in the valley of the Wichita River, one of the main tributaries of the Red River. The river has cut a shallow valley into the surrounding plains through erosion over millions of years. The valley provides diversity to the otherwise flat terrain.

Lake Wichita

An artificial reservoir, Lake Wichita was created in 1901 with the construction of a dam on the Wichita River within the city limits. The lake stretches over 1,200 acres and adds recreation opportunities.

Climate and Weather

Hot Summers, Moderate Winters

Wichita Falls has a humid subtropical climate. Summers are hot and humid, while winters are cool and dry.

  • Summer average high: 94°F
  • Winter average high: 56°F

Severe Thunderstorms

The city’s location in Tornado Alley leads to frequent severe thunderstorms, especially in spring. On average, 59 tornadoes strike within 100 miles of Wichita Falls annually. A destructive F5 tornado caused major damage in 1979.

Flash Flooding

The nearly flat terrain coupled with clay soils occasionally leads to flash flooding during extreme rainfall events. Flood controls have been implemented along the Wichita River to mitigate this.

Winter Ice Storms

Winters occasionally bring disruptive ice storms as cold air interacts with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Freezing rain coats trees, power lines, and roads in ice.

Natural Resources and Ecology

Native Vegetation

Native grasses such as bluestem and grama grow across the Rolling Plains. Groves of mesquite and scrub brush dot the prairies. The riparian zone along the Wichita River supports eastern cottonwood, elm, and pecan trees.


Wildlife includes prairie dogs, coyotes, mule deer, bobcats, Texas horned lizards, great blue herons, whitetail deer, bobwhite quail, and migratory waterfowl. Lake Wichita provides habitat for largemouth bass, catfish, and other fish.

Mineral Resources

Petroleum and natural gas reserves are tapped in the region around Wichita Falls. Sand and gravel deposits are mined from the river valley. The city taps groundwater from the Trinity Aquifer as its main water supply.

Growth and Development

Railroad Led to Founding of Wichita Falls

Wichita Falls was established in 1872 with the arrival of the Wichita Falls and Southern Railroad. The city was named after the nearby waterfall on the Wichita River. Early growth was fueled by the railroad and cattle drives from Texas to Kansas.

Military Bases Drove Expansion

The establishment of Sheppard Air Force Base during WWII and later James Connally Air Force Base brought rapid growth. The city became an aviation training hub. Base closures in the 1960s-70s led to economic diversification.

Annexation Increased Land Area

As Wichita Falls grew, it gradually annexed surrounding areas. The city now spans nearly 70 square miles. Recent annexations took place in 2004 and 2017. Development filled in previous gaps between neighborhoods.

Suburbanization Trends

New residential and commercial growth has shifted to the outskirts in typical suburban style. Retail corridors and clusters of housing subdivisions fan out mainly to the southwest and northeast of downtown.

Neighborhoods and Districts

Wichita Falls contains many distinct neighborhoods and districts, some with unique geography:

  • Downtown – Central business district near confluence of Wichita River; dense urban core with high-rises.
  • Midtown – Mixed residential and commercial area directly west of downtown.
  • South Wichita Falls – Industrial and working-class area south of city center.
  • West Flats – Historic old west neighborhood on higher ground west of the river.
  • La Salle Heights – Affluent subdivision on NW side, houses on hilly terrain.
  • River Bend – Upscale homes on cliffs overlooking Wichita River.
  • Parkway – Curving residential streets follow shore of Lake Wichita.

Major Geographical Features

Wichita River

The river is dammed in several locations, creating a series of lakes within the city. It sustains parks and provides the setting for the Lucy Park Icehouse outdoor amphitheater.

Lake Wichita

The largest lake within the city, it offers recreational fishing, boating, walking trails, and views. The shoreline has upscale housing. A water treatment plant draws municipal water supply.

Lake Arrowhead

Built in 1966, this 174-acre lake impounds the Little Wichita River in Lucy Park. It has a swimming area, fishing pier, and walking trail around its perimeter.

Lucy Park

One of the city’s main parks located along the Wichita River, containing Lake Arrowhead. It has an 18-hole golf course, ice house amphitheater, athletic fields, and rose gardens.

Wichita Bluffs

A scenic area of eroded sandstone cliffs and rock formations overlooks the river near Lucy Park. Height reaches 60-100 feet. Some upscale homes sit atop the bluffs.


In summary, Wichita Falls has a diverse geography shaped by its rivers, lakes, rolling plains, escarpments, neighborhoods, and other landscapes. Its location, climate, and natural resources have influenced the city’s settlement and expansion. The Wichita River valley remains an anchor point that has nurtured development. Looking to the future, Wichita Falls will continue adapting its geographical setting to meet the needs of its people.


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  • Start out heading north on I-44 W. Take exit 1A to merge onto US-277 N/US-281 N toward Wichita Falls. Drive for about 13 miles then use the right 2 lanes to take exit 1A for TX-240 Loop/Kell Fwy toward Downtown/Sheppard AFB. Continue on TX-240 Loop W for 4 miles then use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto Kemp Blvd. In 0.6 miles, turn right onto Dunbarton Dr. The destination will be on the right in 0.3 miles.
  • Begin on US-277 N in Burkburnett. Drive north for approximately 11 miles and take exit 46 for TX-240 Loop W/Kell Fwy toward Downtown/Sheppard AFB. Stay straight to continue on TX-240 Loop W for 4 miles. Use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto Kemp Blvd. After 0.6 miles, make a right onto Dunbarton Dr. 4500 Dunbarton Dr will be on the right side in 0.3 miles.
  • Head west on I-44 W and take exit 46A to merge onto US-277 N toward Wichita Falls. In about 12.5 miles, take exit 1A to get on TX-240 Loop W/Kell Fwy going west. Stay on TX-240 Loop W for 4 miles then use the left lanes to turn left onto Kemp Blvd. Drive 0.6 miles and turn right onto Dunbarton Dr. The destination will soon be on the right after driving 0.3 miles more.