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Mountains of Southwest USA
Landscapes > Mountains
Elsewhere in California are many other mountain ranges, large and small. The deserts of the southeast have basin and range topography, with wide plains separating thin, isolated ridges. To the west rises a more continuous series of hills that border the Los Angeles and San Diego metropolises, principally the Coyote, Santa Rosa, San Jacinto, San Bernardino, San Gabriel and Santa Monica ranges. This latter merges with the southern Coast Range that runs north all the way to San Francisco; a line of steep sided, wooded hills crossed by few roads and without any sites of particular interest.
Nearly all of Nevada is part of the Great Basin Desert, and it contains dozens of narrow mountain ranges running north-south, separated by wide valleys. The highest summit is 13,063 foot Wheeler Peak, contained within Great Basin National Park, the only NPS preserve entirely within the state. Some of the other ranges are part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, and most are public land but none are very much visited, except for Mount Charleston near Las Vegas.
The Colorado Plateau extends to northeast Arizona, where other volcanic summits include the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, and Navajo Mountain overlooking Lake Powell. The one major mountain range in the state is the White Mountains in the east, crossed US 191 (Coronado Trail), but otherwise rather inaccessible. The Colorado Plateau gives way in the west and south to lower elevation terrain, split by valleys, which come to predominate in the desert regions towards the Mexican border and the Colorado river - typical basin and range landscape, where mountains sometimes have high summits like Mount Lemmon near Tucson (9,157 feet), but in other places are much smaller, rising just a few hundred feet above the surroundings. Some notable locations are Beaver Dam Mountains, Picacho Peak, South Mountains (southwest of Phoenix) and the Superstition Mountains (east of Phoenix).
About half of Colorado is mountainous; the state contains 450 miles of the Rocky Mountains, which like the Sierra Nevada have a steep east face, contrasting greatly to the dead flat prairie further east, and a more gently sloping west side, as the land merges with the Colorado Plateau and other sandstone ranges. Rocky Mountain National Park showcases one of the most scenic areas and has a good number of trails, to lakes, glacial canyons, and summits including 14,259 foot Longs Peak, one of 53 'fourteeners' in the state. It also contains the highest paved through highway anywhere in America, Trail Ridge Road, which climbs to 12,183 feet. But there are many more equally spectacular locations in the Colorado Rockies, such as Independence Pass and the Collegiate Peaks, Aspen and the Maroon Bells Wilderness, Mount Evans, San Juan Mountains, Pikes Peak and Arapaho National Recreation Area.
The highest peak in Texas (8,749 feet) is found in the Guadalupe Mountains of the far west - a great limestone escarpment that also contains Carlsbad Caverns in south New Mexico. The mountains are part of a national park, lightly visited owing to its remoteness, and primarily a place for hikers, as there is no single attraction, just large areas of hilly wilderness, with great views over the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert plains. West Texas also has many smaller ranges such as the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park, Davis Mountains and Franklin Mountains.
The Rocky Mountains cover the western half of Wyoming, with the two most visited locations being in the far north - the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, the latter protecting perhaps the most spectacular range in North America, with permanently snowcapped peaks rising very steeply over one mile above the flat-floored valley of the Snake River (Jackson Hole). But the highest peak in the state (and 19 of the top 20) is found in the more remote, lesser known and harder-to-access Wind River Range.
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