The biotic and abiotic factors that facilitate or hinder species range expansions are many and complex. We examine the impact of two genetic processes and their interaction on fitness at expanding range edges: local maladaptation resulting from the presence of an environmental gradient and expansion load resulting from increased genetic drift at the range edge. Results from spatially explicit simulations indicate that the presence of an environmental gradient during range expansion reduces expansion load; conversely, increasing expansion load allows only locally adapted populations to persist at the range edge. Increased maladaptation reduces the speed of range expansion, resulting in less genetic drift at the expanding front and more immigration from the range center, therefore reducing expansion load at the range edge. These results may have ramifications for species being forced to shift their ranges because of climate change or other anthropogenic changes. If rapidly changing climate leads to faster expansion as populations track their shifting climatic optima, populations may suffer increased expansion load beyond previous expectations.