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Home > California Geography

California Geography

California has an incredible variety of geography across all 12 regions.

  • California, the third largest state in land area, covers 158,693 square miles.
  • The average width of the state is 150 to 200 miles.
  • California has a coastline 1,264 miles long
  • At 14,495 feet, Mt. Whitney in Sequoia National Park is the highest point in the contiguous United States.
  • Badwater in Death Valley National Park, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest elevation point in the United States.
  • California has three active volcanoes: In the Cascade Mountain range are Mt. Lassen (elevation 10,457 feet)., a plug-dome volcano surrounded by volcanic hot springs; and Mt. Shasta (elevation 14,162 feet), which is characterized by strong granite peaks; and Mt. Mammoth (elevation 11,000 feet), found in the Sierra Nevada, offers fantastic skiing.
  • The nation's 11th National Marine Sanctuary extends along California's coast from just north of the Golden Gate south past Big Sur to San Simeon in Monterey County. The Monterey sanctuary encompasses 5,312 square miles (4,024 square nautical miles), making it the largest marine sanctuary in the United States.
  • The San Francisco Bay is the largest natural harbor and estuary on the west coast.
  • California has more than 420 recreational lakes. The largest natural lake, Clearlake, often referred to as "The Bass Capital of the West," has 43,000 acres of surface area and a shoreline of 100 miles, at an elevation of 1,320 feet.
  • California has 4.1 million acres in National Park acreage and 1.3 million acres in State Park acreage.
  • The largest trees in the world, a species of Redwood known as Sequoia gigantea, can be found in the Sierra Nevada.
  • The oldest living thing in the world, the Bristlecone Pine tree, aged at nearly 5,000 years, can be found at an altitude of 11,000 feet in California.
  • The tallest living thing in the world is the California Redwood found along the North and Central Coast area.


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