Why are Nevada and Arizona in different time zones?

Why are Nevada and Arizona in different time zones?
Why are Nevada and Arizona in different time zones?





As neighboring states, you would think that Nevada and Arizona would be running in the same time zone, right? Well, they aren’t. But, why are Nevada and Arizona in different time zones?

It’s because the border of Nevada and Arizona sits right on the cusp of the transition between the Mountain Time Zone (MT) and the Pacific Time Zone (PT). In theory, a small part of Nevada could be running on Mountain Time, but Congress decided it was better if the whole of the state was in the same time zone. The two states have the same time when Nevada switches over to DST. 

Let’s explain this a little bit more, as well as give you a rough idea of how time zones work. 

What Is a Time Zone?

To understand why Nevada and Arizona are in different time zones, it may be useful to establish what a time zone is.

As you know, depending on where you are on the planet, the sun will be in a slightly different position. This means that it may be night in one place, and daytime in the other. The time of day would be completely different. 

To account for this, the world is split up into 24 time zones (with the UK being the base time zone since the British invented this system). The time zones were split vertically down the planet. So, in theory, it should be the same time in parts of Africa as it would be in the UK. Although, it doesn’t quite work in practice (we won’t go into why here). 

As you head west from the UK (i.e. toward the US), the time zones gradually get an hour behind the base time in the UK (GMT, although now more commonly referred to as UTC). 

Due to the size of the US, there are several different time zones in the country. After all, the sun rises on the west coast at a completely different time than when it would on the east coast.

This means that the sunrise/sunset times in Nevada and Arizona are going to be different. Because of this, you don’t want them running in the same time zone. If you did, one of the states would end up having an hour less light per working day. This is still important when there is a lot of farming happening in both Nevada and Arizona. 

What Time Zone is Nevada In?

Nevada is on Pacific Standard Time. This is UTC-8.  During DST, this becomes PDT, which is UTC-7. You may also find both times referred to as PT. 

What Time Zone is Arizona In?

Arizona is on Mountain Standard Time. This is UTC-7. You may find this time zone referred to either as MST or MT. 

Why Are Nevada and Arizona in Different Time Zones?

Because that’s just the way that time zones have panned out. Due to the way the planet has been partitioned into these time zones, the time zone line crosses right through Nevada. In theory, this could mean that parts of Nevada could operate on Mountain Time, although Congress decided not to.

Governments of each country can, roughly, choose which time zone the country is in. When you have a big country like the US, there will be multiple time zones. Congress is responsible for drawing where those time zone boundaries are in the US. When they drew these lines, they would need to avoid major population centers, because they didn’t want people in the same cities/towns being in different time zones from one another.

Most of Nevada’s major population centers are close to the border of Arizona, with places like Las Vegas being just a few hours away. It would have been impossible to draw the time zone line through major places like this. So, Congress decided that it would be best to put the time zone line on the border between the two states. 

When Does The Time Zone Change Between Nevada and Arizona?

As soon as you cross the border between the two states, the time zone will change. If you are traveling between Nevada and Arizona, then the signposts will tell you that you need to change your watches.

If you have a smart device, then it should change the time automatically when it realizes where you are. You don’t have to think about this anywhere near as much as you would in the past. 

Could Nevada and Arizona Be In The Same Time Zone?

No. It is unlikely that the two states will ever be in the same time zone. The time zone lines in the US have been firmly set for a good few decades now. It doesn’t matter too much that Nevada and Arizona are in different time zones, anyway. There are very few people living along the state borders, so you aren’t going to be bumping into people that are in a different time zone regularly.

It is unlikely that the Mountain Time Zone will cross into Nevada either, even though it could. There is no call for it, and it is best to have the whole state operating in the same time zone. 

Do Nevada and Arizona Have Daylight Saving Time?

Nevada does have Daylight Saving Time, which is observed from March to November each year. 

Arizona does not have Daylight Saving Time. The only place in Arizona that recognizes DST will be the Navajo Nation. This has been the case since 1918. 

This does mean that for a good portion of the year, Nevada is in the same time zone as Arizona. This is because during DST, Nevada will run on UTC-7. 

Final Thoughts 

Nevada and Arizona are in different time zones due to the way that the time zone lines have been drawn. The time zone line runs right through Nevada. Congress has moved the time zone change up to the border of the two states, just to make it easier for the residents of Nevada.

The only time the two states will be running at the same time is during DST. This is because Nevada uses DST while Arizona does not.

Similar Topics 

Time Zones

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!