Nevada is a huge state covering an area of nearly 300,000 square kilometers. It is bordered to the west by California, to the east by Utah, to the south- east by Arizona and to the north by Idaho and Oregon. It is a land locked State with their being no access to a coast line. Due to its size the region has a large variety of environments. It is most well-known for its deserts, but despite the fact that it does contain some of the hottest places on earth it would be wrong to assume that its area is dominated by one big expanse of sand.
The Northern part of the State is dominated by the Great Basin. The area has north to south running mountain ranges that have valleys lying in between them. The temperatures are very hot in the summer, but can be so cold in the winter that the tops of the mountains can be snow peaked. The valleys in these northern areas greener than the mountainous areas. Rainfall that is collected from the Arizona Monsoon results in water producing thicker vegetation surviving in these sheltered areas. The Humboldt River crosses the State from east to west before disappearing into the Humboldt Sink which is in the Forty Mile Desert. This has left behind a huge salt marsh.
In the central area of the State some of the mountains reach as high as 13,000 feet with their basins being between 3,000 and 6,000 feet. In this region of the State most moisture is found in the upper areas with there being instances of lush forests being found. The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest spreads down the centre of Nevada. It is characterized by coniferous type vegetation. It is the largest forest area in the country found outside Alaska and spreads down the eastern side of the State into California
This has produced a “sky island” type geography with the extra water available producing greater varieties of species. The greenery of the higher areas contrasts with the hotter drier climates that are experienced in the basins. The Southern part of Nevada is lower than the rest of the State. This contains the city of Las Vegas which lies in the centre of the Mojave Desert. The desert is the driest desert in the United States and is caused by being in the rain shadow of the Tehachapi Mountains to the west, and the San Gabriel and the San Bernardino Mountains to the south.
Any moisture that comes into the region falls on the mountains leaving very little for the desert. It has produced a unique vegetation system with almost 2000 different species being found. It is famed for the Joshua tree which is only found in the Mojave Desert and the desert spreads into California. One of the most notorious places within the desert is Death Valley. This is the lowest place in North American being located at 282 feet below sea level. It is one of the hottest places on earth and in 1913 a temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded at Furnace Creek.
Death Valley is surrounded by high mountains and the highest point in the contiguous United States is found at Mount Whitney, 14,500 feet, which is only 130 kilometers away. The mountain peaks surrounding the valley are occupied by forests and vegetation.
The southern part of the State contains the Colorado River. The water from the river has been used by the Hoover Dam to form Lake Meade which has been utilized by the authorities to benefit the population of Nevada’. The geography of Nevada is dominated by large mountain peaks that are separated by many valleys. There are over 172 summits at over 2000 feet and other than Alaska, Nevada is the country’s most mountainous state.