The southern Cascade Range, in northern California, consists of a rugged belt of ranges that includes volcanic peaks and extensive lava flows. Mount Shasta, which is a dormant volcano, rises to 4,317 m (14,162 ft) above sea level. Just to the south of Lassen Volcanic National Park the densely forested Cascades meet the Sierra Nevada.
The Sierra Nevada, nearly all of which lies in California, is an imposing mountain barrier that extends along the eastern edge of the Central Valley. It is primarily a vast tilted granite block, with very steep slopes facing east and longer, gentler slopes facing west. The highest section, known as the High Sierra, includes Mount Whitney, which rises to 4,418 m (14,494 ft) and is the highest peak in the United States outside of Alaska. Forests cover large areas on the lower western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. At the southern end of the Sierra Nevada the Tehachapi Mountains curve southwestward to join the Coast Ranges and the Transverse Ranges.
The Basin and Range province is an arid area of mountain ranges, basins, and deserts. In California it is represented primarily by parts of the Great Basin and Sonoran Desert sections.
Within the Great Basin lies Death Valley, whose lowest elevation, 86 m (282 ft) below sea level, is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. The Sonoran Desert section is characterized by numerous flat plains separated by low but rugged ranges. It includes the extensive Mojave, or Mohave, Desert.
Also in this province is the Colorado Desert, roughly extensive with the Salton Trough. The trough is a depression that extends from the Gulf of California, in Mexico, to the Transverse Ranges in the northwest. This arid depression, rimmed by several mountain ranges, includes the Imperial Valley, the Salton Sea, and the Coachella Valley.
The Lower California province is a northern extension of Mexico’s peninsula of Baja California. The province is dominated by occasional peaks but generally rolling mountain and valley terrain of the Peninsular Ranges. The northern end of the granitic Peninsular Ranges culminates in Mount San Jacinto (3,293 m/10,804 ft), which overlooks the resort city of Palm Springs to the east."USA" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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