A mesa is a flat-topped mountain or hill. It is a wide, flat, elevated landform with steep sides.

Mesa is a Spanish word that means table. Spanish explorers of the American southwest, where many mesas are found, used the word because the tops of mesas look like the tops of tables.

Mesas are formed by erosion, when water washes smaller and softer types of rocks away from the top of a hill. The strong, durable rock that remains on top of a mesa is called caprock. A mesa is usually wider than it is tall.

Mesas are usually found in dry regions where rock layers are horizontal. The Grand Mesa in the U.S. state of Colorado, considered the largest mesa in the world, has an area of about 1,300 square kilometers (500 square miles) and stretches for 64 kilometers (40 miles).

mesa
This gorgeous mesa towers above the surrounding vegetation of the Guiana Highlands of South America.

Tabletop Community
There are over 300 lakes on top of the Grand Mesa, in Colorado, as well as a state highway.

caprock
Noun

strong, hard rock that remains on top of a mesa.

durable
Adjective

strong and long-lasting.

Noun

act in which earth is worn away, often by water, wind, or ice.

Noun

land that rises above its surroundings and has a rounded summit, usually less than 300 meters (1,000 feet).

horizontal
Adjective

left-right direction or parallel to the Earth and the horizon.

Noun

specific natural feature on the Earth's surface.

Noun

broad, flat-topped landform with steep sides.

mountain
Noun

landmass that forms as tectonic plates interact with each other.

Noun

any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

rock
Noun

natural substance composed of solid mineral matter.

steep
Adjective

extreme incline or decline.