Mountains and Valleys

California has some of the highest mountains in the United States and some of the deepest valleys. It has a long shoreline which provides beaches and natural habitats and harbors.

Two main mountain ranges go from north to south through California. The Sierra Nevada Mountains, which go through Tulare County, are some of the highest mountains in the United States. Mt. Whitney is the highest mountain in this mountain range. It’s tip is in Tulare County.

Below and west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains are the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys. These large flat areas are excellent land for farming. In between the mountains and the valley are foothills. These hills have good places for cattle to graze on the grass that grows. Also, many oranges and other citrus fruits grow there.

West of Tulare County is the Coast Range of Mountains. These mountains are not as high as the Sierra Nevada Mountains. To go to the beach at the Pacific Ocean, we have to cross the Coast Range.

In the winter, it snows in the high Sierra Nevada mountains. When spring comes, the snow melts and goes down the mountains in rivers. 200 years ago, the rivers in the San Joaquin Valley flowed into a large lake called Tulare Lake. The Yokuts Indians who lived here fished in the lake and hunted the birds and animals which came there. When the settlers arrived, they built boats and could sail to San Francisco.

Click here for a page about how California’s geography has changed over time.