Hantaviruses (order Bunyavirales, family Hantaviridae) are important zoonotic pathogens. Because of the great diversity of their reservoir hosts, hantaviruses are excellent models to evaluate the dynamics of virus-host co-evolution. To understand the mechanisms behind the evolutionary history of hantaviruses through virus-reservoir interactions, it is important to know how the radiation and diversity of hantaviruses occurred. In this paper, we evaluate the pattern of hantavirus diversification based on a complete S segment representing major groups of hantaviruses found in the Americas. Phylogenetic analyses revealed a high degree of phylogeographic structure and a surprising pattern of geographical distribution of New World hantaviruses. The available data suggest that hantaviruses related to the Arvicolinae rodent subfamily in North America probably emerged and initially adapted from a shared common ancestor of the Tula virus. The first clade of hantaviruses associated with Neotominae occupied a stem lineage, especially those that emerged in Central America or Mexico. Hantaviruses from Central America and Mexico found in Neotominae rodents spread northward and probably gave rise to the first phylogroup of hantaviruses associated with Sigmodontinae in North America. Two preferential host-switching transmissions in hantaviruses apparently gave rise to two different paraphyletic group in Neotominae and Sigmodontinae. Our study supports a probable epicenter of diversification in Central America and/or Mexico for hantaviruses related to both the Neotominae and Sigmodontinae subfamilies.