California's Sierra Nevada ("snow-capped
mountain") is a west-tilting 350-mile (560-km)-long block of granite.
Extending from 14,494 feet (Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the
lower 48 states) in the east to near sea level in the west, it
contains the spectacular Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks (not
indicated on the map). The massive granite intruded the crust
in Mesozoic time and was uplifted and faulted in the Tertiary
during formation of the
Basin and Range province to the east. Eroded residue from
the Sierra Nevada has filled the
Central Valley of California, giving rise to both extensive
agriculture and the 1849 Gold Rush.