Addressing the current biodiversity crisis will require transformative changes to social, political, and economic structures. One science-based recommendation is protecting 30% of the Earth’s terrestrial and marine systems by 2030, 30x30. Here we analyze the current spatial patterns of imperiled species biodiversity and carbon stores in the U.S. relative to protected areas to help conservationists and decision makers understand the starting point on the path to achieving 30x30. Multi-scale analyses demonstrate that 30x30 is numerically achievable nationally, but high spatial heterogeneity highlights the need for tailored approaches from a mix of authorities at federal, regional, and state scales. Critically, current land protections rarely overlap with areas essential for conserving imperiled species biodiversity and mitigating climate change. We discuss this baseline relative to key policy considerations for making practical, substantive progress toward the goal.