California – The Golden State

California is located on the western coast of the United States. It extends along the Pacific Ocean from the Mexican border in the south for nearly 900 miles (1400 km) to its northern border with the state of Oregon. The state is approximately 200 miles (300 km) wide from its western beaches to its eastern deserts bordering the states of Nevada and Arizona.

California has a series of unique geological features that extend north to south along nearly the entire length of the state. They create a wide variety of scenery and climates that help to make California a great place to visit.

California’s Tropical Beaches to Rugged Coast

At Big Sur just south of Monterey, the mountains plunge right into the ocean to form spectacular coastal scenery.

The coastline of California extends from the soft sandy tropical beaches of San Diego near the Mexican border to the rugged northern coasts near Oregon. In the southern part of the state, warm Pacific waters and the famous California surf attract many tourists to its palm shaded beaches. As you go further north, the coastline becomes more scenic, but the waters are cooler and sandy beaches are scarcer. In northern California, hiking along rocky cliffs and visiting secluded beaches to see seals, sea otters or whales are more popular than swimming.

The coastal mountains stretch along the western fringe of the entire state. These low volcanic peaks form a protective barrier shielding the inner lands from the full force of the Pacific Ocean weather. In some places, the ridges are a few miles inland with flat coastal steps where cities like Los Angeles and San Diego are built. At Big Sur just south of Monterey, the mountains plunge right into the ocean to form spectacular coastal scenery. A gap in the mountains near San Francisco allows the Pacific Ocean to flow into a large protected bay behind the coastal range.


Central Valley, the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the desert

A broad flat valley runs down the center of the state east of the Coastal Mountains and west of the higher Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Known as the Central Valley, this once arid desert plain is now some of the richest farmlands in the USA thanks to the liberal use of irrigation. The Central Valley is 50 to 100 miles wide (90 – 150 km) and is covered with farms, orchards and vineyards.

Yosemite National Park: El Capitan
Yosemite National Park with its spectacular alpine vistas is only four hours drive to the east of San Francisco.

The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range forms a 400-mile long north-south wall of snow-capped peaks approximately 100 miles east of the Pacific shoreline. Much of the mountainous area is preserved as natural wilderness with few roads and limited access. From Bakersfield, just east of Los Angeles, to Yosemite, nearly 200 miles north, there is no road traversing this range from east to west. Approaching the mountains from the west, takes you through 50 miles of escalating hills and forested slopes before you reach the snow capped ridges. From the east, the snowcapped peaks rise almost directly from the floor of the desert to form a spectacular wall of granite extending from horizon to horizon.

A narrow strip of California lies east of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in a parched rain-shadow desert with waterless mountains and desiccated valleys. This is the beginning of the barren Basin and Range Country that extend through the state of Nevada. It includes the vast wasteland of the Mojave Desert and the austere beauty of Death Valley.

Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

The major city in California is the multi-ethnic metropolis of Los Angeles, home to Hollywood movie stars, business moguls, California surfers and four million inhabitants. It is actually a conglomeration of several dozen communities that have coalesced into the largest city on the west coast of the US. From its tropical beaches and cosmopolitan shopping malls, it is only a few hours to the giant Redwood forests of the Sierra Nevada wilderness or to year round golfing under the endless blue skies in the Palm Springs desert.

San Francisco, the other great California city, is located nearly 400 miles (600 km) to the north. This beautiful city hugs the slopes of a hilly peninsula on the shores of a vast blue bay amid the coastal mountains. It is less metropolitan than Los Angeles and lacks the warm sandy beaches but is much more picturesque. Yosemite National Park with its spectacular alpine vistas is only four hours drive to the east. The California Wine Country of Sonoma and Napa Valley is less than an hour to the north.

Many wonderful attractions in California

Between these two major cities, lie many beautiful coastal towns like Monterey and Santa Barbara plus the spectacular scenic coastline of Big Sur. Forests of giant redwoods, and snowcapped mountain peaks are easily accessible in the Sierra Nevada high country just a few hours to the east. The Mojave desert and the resort city of Palm Springs are not far from Los Angeles. California offers many wonderful attractions in such proximity that you are never more than a short drive from another attraction in a different landscape and a different climate. California is a great place to visit.

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Apply for California payday loans from the privacy of your own home. You can get $100, $250, or $500 in cash advance .

When visiting San Diego, it is recommended that you tune in to San Diego local news programs to remain updated on the happenings in the city.

Official Tourism Information pages of the state of California

Interesting facts about California from

Los Angeles convention and visitors bureau

San Francisco convention and visitors bureau

San Diego convention and visitors bureau

Hot deals and fare sales at

Written on January 22nd, 2012 , California Guide

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