There have been many attempts to classify geographic areas into zones of similar characteristics. Recent focus has been on ecoregions. We examined how well the boundaries of the most commonly used ecoregion classifications for the US matched the boundaries of existing vegetation cover mapped at three levels of classification, fine, mid- and coarse scale. We analyzed ecoregions in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The results were similar among the two ecoregion classifications. For both ecoregion delineations and all three vegetation classifications, the patterns of existing vegetation did not correspond well with the patterns of ecoregions. Most vegetation types had a small proportion of their total area in a given ecoregion. There was also no dominance by one or more vegetation types in any ecoregion and contrary to our hypothesis, the level of congruence of vegetation patterns with ecoregion boundaries decreased as the level of classification became more general. The implications of these findings on the use of ecoregions as a planning tool and in the development of land conservation efforts are discussed.