Nevada’s area is 286,352 sq km (110,561 sq mi), of which inland waters make up 1,904 sq km (735 sq mi). It ranks seventh in size among the states. From north to south, at its maximum, the state measures 777 km (483 mi) and from east to west, 517 km (321 mi). The mean elevation is about 1,700 m (5,500 ft).
Near the Nevada-California boundary in the White Mountains is the state’s highest summit, Boundary Peak, at 4,005 m (13,140 ft). Wheeler Peak (3,982 m/13,063 ft), the next highest, is at the eastern edge of Nevada. The state’s lowest elevation, 146 m (479 ft), is found at its southern tip, where the Colorado River leaves Nevada.
Nevada lies on a plateau between the Wasatch and associated ranges of the Rocky Mountains to the east and the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range to the west. Almost all of the state lies within a region known as the Great Basin. Actually, it is not a single basin, but rather a vast desert without drainage to the sea. In the Great Basin hundreds of parallel valleys, mostly running in a north-south direction, are separated by mountain ranges.
A small part of Nevada lies within another physiographic region, the Sierra-Cascade province. Here a section of the Sierra Nevada extends across the state’s western edge. The mountain slopes reach down from Lake Tahoe toward Reno and Carson City.
In the northeast, Nevada shares two sections of the Columbia Plateau with Oregon and Idaho. These sections contain a number of rivers that drain north and belong to the Columbia River watershed.
The mountain ranges of Nevada are long rugged ridges. There are about 100 such ranges, most of them from 80 to 120 km (50 to 75 mi) long and from 10 to 24 km (6 to 15 mi) wide. They rise 900 to 1,500 m (3,000 to 5,000 ft) above the surrounding basin surface and reach elevations of 4,000 m (13,000 ft) above sea level.
Some of these ranges were created when huge sections of the earth’s crust were thrown up on their edges above the surrounding land. These mountains are called fault-block ranges. In western Nevada, particularly, the fault scarps, or zones along the faces of the mountains where uplift took place, are clearly visible. In other parts of the state, clear evidence of mountain-building processes has been obscured by erosion. Small earthquakes are common in western Nevada, indicating that the mountains are still being uplifted gradually.
Earth’s crust below the Great Basin is believed to be thinner than at any other place in North America. At the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada there have been eruptions of volcanic rock, and hot springs occur at the bases of many other Nevada mountain ranges. Mineral deposits, including gold and silver, are widespread in Nevada’s mountains. The larger and higher ranges are the Shoshone Mountains, Toiyabe Range, Toquema Range, Monitor Range, Ruby Mountains, Quinn Canyon Mountains, Shell Creek Range, Snake Range, and the Spring Mountains. "Nevada" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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