California – The Golden State

California - The Golden State

The state of California borders the state of Oregon in the north, the states of Nevada and Arizona in the east, Mexico in the south and the Pacific Ocean in the west. California is almost ten times the size of the Netherlands. There are two states in America that are larger than California, namely Alaska and Texas. California is inhabited by 27 million people and the capital is Sacramento. The largest cities are Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Oakland.

According to EJIAXING, the state has the longest coastline in the United States after Alaska. The climate is very varied. California has humid coastal forests and dry and hot deserts. One of the highest mountains in California is Mount Whitney with the highest peak at 4,418 meters above sea level. California also has the lowest point in the entire US on its territory, Death Valley at 86 meters below sea level.

A large part of this state consists of mountains and also bone-dry deserts. There are two elongated mountain ranges found in this state: the Coast Ranges along the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range along the eastern border. Between these two mountain ranges stretches a wonderfully beautiful valley. In northern California, the Sequoia forests are home to the largest trees in the world fluttering their leaves. California is also home to the infamous San Andreas Fault, a 1000 km long fault in the Earth’s crust. This rupture has already caused many earthquakes.

Sierra Nevada Mountain Range

The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range stretches 700 km along the eastern border of the state. Parks such as Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park are located in the Sierra Nevada. East of the mountain range are deep dry basins and valleys. For example Death Valley where it can reach 57 degrees Celsius in the summer.

The Mojave Desert originates in southeastern California. This is a desert area with low and barren plains and mountains. The California coastline has a length of 1350 km and consists for the most part of rugged and rocky area. However, the south of this coastline is blessed with beautiful sandy beaches. There are four major rivers that traverse the state, namely the Sacramento River, the San Joaquin River, the Salinas River, and the Colorado River which forms the border between the state and Arizona. The latter river also provides water to major cities such as Los Angeles.

There are also quite a few natural lakes, Lake Tahoe being the most famous. The Salton Sea in the south has the lowest water level in all of the US, 71 meters below sea level. California’s wildlife is rich with black bear, mule deer, lynx, coyote wolf and many more. It is also claimed that the so-called BigFoot lives here. A beast that is almost two meters long and has footprints of over a meter.

Sea lions also live on some islands off the coast. In most of California, two seasons can be distinguished: the dry season from October to April and the rainy season from May to September. The north of the state receives much more rain than the south. On the coast, people generally speak of cool summers and mild winters. There is a lot of snow in the Sierra Nevada, but to the east of this the country consists mainly of dry desert due to the fact that this mountain range forms a large barrier for the rain clouds.

Los Angeles Metropolitan Area

The majority of the state is white, however the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area is home to many ethnic minorities. Especially blacks and Mexicans. The state makes a living from manufacturing airplanes and cars and the advanced Silicon Valley with modern electronics. California is economically one of the most important states in the US. The state serves as a gateway for many import products, so the import of Japanese cars is almost entirely done through this state. Furthermore, California has one of the most important film industries in the world with Hollywood. Well known to the tourists is of course Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. With its beautiful houses and expensive shops on Rodeo Drive.

San Diego

San Diego is the oldest city in California. Francisco de Ulloa was the first European to enter the southern part of this state from Mexico. This was about 1539/1540. In 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese working for the Spanish authorities, claimed California for the Spanish crown. It was 1602 when Sebastian Vizcaino discovered Monterey Bay as he sailed north along the coast. In the year 1769, Junipero Serra established the first mission near San Diego. In the early 1800s, farmers, artisans and merchants settled in California. At Sutter’s Mill, in 1848, the first gold was found, triggering what is now called the Gold Rush.

Tens of thousands of Americans came to this and wanted to look for gold in California. However, in most cases the disappointment was all the greater when no gold was found. The Gold Rush promoted white colonization of the state, resulting in California becoming the thirty-first state of the United States in 1850. When the coast-to-coast railway was finally completed in 1869, immigration to sunny California really got going. Today, there is still a lot of immigration to this state.

Channel Islands National Park

A group of islands, located between 20 and 140 km off the coast of southern California, are known as the Channel Islands. This area has been a major attraction for the inhabitants of the mainland for years. In 1980, five of the islands (Anacapa, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Miguel and Santa Rosa) were declared protected areas with the name Channel Islands National Park. Three of the protected islands are under the management of the Park Service: Anacapa, Santa Barbara and San Miguel. The other two are privately owned and cannot be visited without prior permission from the owners. In total, the park covers an area of ​​505 square kilometers. This includes the water up to 11 km from the coast. San Miguel is uninhabited and has had serious problems with erosion.

Sea lions and elephant seals can be found on the western part of this island. Santa Cruz is the largest island. All islands can only be reached by boat. Ferries run from Ventura to Anacapa and Santa Barbara. In the vicinity of the islands, the ocean is quite shallow, but at a relatively short distance the ocean floor drops steeply 300 meters or more. Of the seven species of pinnipeds that still exist in the world, Channel Islands has six within its border area. Two species of sea lions and four species of seals are found here in large numbers.

There are also numerous species of seabirds on the islands. The park has rugged rock cliffs and undulating plateaus. Actually, the islands are the tops of protruding seamounts above the water. The islands are often shrouded in fog due to the highly variable weather conditions. The islands are most visited in the summer. The water of the Pacific Ocean is at its warmest here, about 20 degrees, so swimming here is wonderful.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is located in one of the hottest and most inhospitable areas of the world. It covers an area of ​​13,628 square kilometers and is located in the southeastern part of the state of California. A small portion of the park is located in neighboring Nevada. In 1994 the area was declared a National Park. Furnace Creek near Death Valley is often the starting point for visitors to the park. The Visitor Center is located here where all information about the park can be found. Millions of years ago, Death Valley was probably an area of ​​wide valleys and low mountains. Tectonic activities transformed the area into an inland sea. But gradually the water evaporated and the area became a desert with salt flats, sand dunes, canyons and mountains. The annual rainfall is very modest,

The lowest point of Death Valley, called Badwater, is just south of the heart of the park and at 86 meters below sea level is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. Death Valley is generally very hot and there is a constant haze of hot air. The sky is azure blue and exceptionally clear. The temperature here is about 45 degrees for half the year and it hardly cools down during the night. In July 1913 a temperature of 56.7 degrees Celsius was measured in Furnace Creek, in the shade. It was the second highest shade temperature ever recorded in the world. Take the following advice to heart: never lie down on the ground in this park, because just above the ground the temperature is rarely lower than 65 degrees and can reach 90 degrees.

Zabriskie Point gives the visitor a beautiful view over the Valley of Death. Dante’s View gives you a beautiful view of the lowest point of the Western Hemisphere. Scotty’s Castle is Albert M. Johnson’s 1931 vacation home. This house was bought by the government in 1970 and it was then opened to the public. The Ubehebe Crater is an extinct volcano near Scotty’s Castle from which one can descend.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is located 225 km southeast of Los Angeles. This area was granted National Monument status in 1936. In 1994 it was given National Park status. The park, according to the faithful among us, would be used as a landing place for UFOs. At least there are quite a few people who claim this. Photos of UFOs are also said to have been taken, but no hard evidence for these statements has ever been found. The park takes its name from the tree of the same name that grows in the park. In the park you can walk and get acquainted with the desert, the Joshua Tree and jagged rock formations. By the way, it does not rain much in this area, but if it does, the water also falls from the sky in buckets.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Northeastern California is dominated by Lassen Peak, a truncated volcano with a height of 3,187 meters. This is located at the southern end of the Cascade Range. This mountain range extends over a length of 1130 km and runs from northern California into British Columbia (Canada). In most cases, the high peaks in the Cascade Range are cone-shaped volcanoes. Its peaks are separated by glaciers and snowfields. The Lassen Volcanic National Park has even more volcanoes with lava beds, vapor holes and hot springs. The park covers an area of ​​431 square kilometers and received its status in 1916. Lassen Peak was created by pasty lava forced up from an opening on the north side of an extinct volcano known as Tehema.

The lava mass became a rough, cone-shaped plug that hermetically sealed the hole from which the lava had come out. After the formation of this plug, the Lassen Peak remained quiet for years until a period of seven years started in 1914 in which eruptions occurred regularly. Hot springs and furmaroles can also be found in the park. During a walk between the latter, it is recommended to follow the trails. The bottom crust here can look reliable at first glance, but it can be dangerously thin.

Redwood National Park

The Sequoias (redwoods) are the main attraction in this park. These are the tallest trees on Earth. This park was created in 1968 and it covers an area of ​​441 square kilometers. It is located in northwestern California. The park is located on the Pacific Ocean and has a length of 74 km. The park consists of two parts: the redwood forest with rivers and streams, and a 48 km seacoast zone with steep cliffs, beaches and lagoons. US Highway 101 bisects the entire park from north to south. You will find several stops along this 65 km long road and in principle you could traverse the entire park within an hour. Unfortunately, you miss a lot of beautiful things, so taking your time and getting out and occasionally going off the Highway is not unwise.

On May 22, 1982, the park was given the status of World Heritage Site, giving it special protection by UNESCO. There are about 100 areas around the world with this status to ensure that the heritage is not lost. Sequoias are also the fastest growing conifers in North America. Besides the sequoia, California has a second species, the sequoiadendron. The first species grows exclusively along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, in the north of the state of California. The second species grows only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. The Sequoiadendron can live up to three thousand years and the sequoia can still live to be two thousand years old.

Sequoia en Kings Canyon National Park

These two areas are managed by the National Park Service under one park. Kings Canyon National Park has an area of ​​1,863 square kilometers and Sequoia National Park has an area of ​​1,631 square kilometers. Kings Canyon National Park is an area of ​​huge canyons, high cliffs, many lakes and waterfalls, mountain meadows and groups of redwoods. Sequoia National Park is, of course, the premier reserve for the largest and mightiest trees in the world. The main draws in these two areas are the Giant Forest (a concentration of Sequoiadendrons), Crystal Cave (beautiful limestone formations), the High Sierra Trail (a footpath through beautiful Canyons) and the 4418-foot-high Mount Whitney, which is part of the Sierra Nevada chain.

Within Sequoia Park is the Great Western Divide—the natural barrier that separates the westward flowing rivers and creeks from those flowing eastward. The park is located in the central part of California. The highest summer temperature is around 38 degrees and the lowest around 17 degrees. The winters in the park are very cold and have heavy snowfall. The Sequoiadendron is the largest organism in the world and the General Sherman Tree is estimated to be 2,500 to 3,000 years old. The Sequoiadendron is the last member of an ancient family of giant forest giants.

Yosemite National Park

This National Park has a lot to offer: rivers, valleys, steep slopes, snow, redwoods and much more. You can also see hundreds of species of birds and mammals and beautiful alpine flowers here. The park covers an area of ​​3,081 square kilometers and belongs to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This park is rightfully one of the most visited in the United States. John Muir was the man who caused the park to be created in 1890. Incidentally, this man devoted most of his life to the conservation of natural areas. The heights of the park range from 600 to 3396 meters. Three key features characterize this national park: the pristine mountain landscape, the groups of redwood dendrons, and Yosemite Valley. Almost all parts of the park can be reached by car and in the Valley by free shuttle bus.

Sierra Nevada

Today’s Sierra Nevada and the Great Valley were once part of a vast sea. Large amounts of silt, sand and mud, originating from the primeval mountains, were discharged into this sea and collected on the seabed. By accumulating this, the lower layers started to petrify due to the enormous pressure. The tectonic forces in the Earth’s crust twisted these rock layers, propelled them above sea level, and these became mountain ranges. Due to high pressure and high temperatures, the sedimentary layers of rocks underwent a thorough metamorphosis. When a second mountain range was finally pushed up two hundred and thirty million years ago, the molten rock beneath crystallized into a granite massif that would form the Sierra Nevada.

The erosion to which the area has been exposed for millions of years has formed a granite landscape of undulating hills, wide valleys and winding streams. New tectonic surges created massive folds and steepened the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. The erosive power of the currents only increased and caused deepening valleys. The final result was deep V-shaped valleys.

Immense amounts of ice and snow formed glaciers and carved the V-shaped valleys into U-shaped valleys. Through fissures and fissures in the granite massif, the glaciers were able to drag large blocks of granite with them. In the narrow gorge that connects Yosemite Valley to the higher elevations of Little Yosemite Valley, the ice created a stepped slope known as the Giant Stairway. Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall plunge over the edge of broad rock faces parallel to massive fractures of yesteryear. The glaciers made creeks like Yosemite Creek and Bridalveil Creek even steeper than they already were and now plunge to the bottom of Yosemite Valley like high waterfalls.

The mountain peaks in the park got their shape as a result of flaking of rock layers. Blunt and pointed mountain peaks can be found in the park. Incredibly steep slopes are a real attraction for the experienced alpinists. Despite the fact that most walls are impossible for the novice alpinist, there are still walls that can be taken as a beginner. Of course under the watchful eye of a guide. During some months of the year there is the possibility to take courses to master alpinism.

The flag of California

During the Mexican-American War (1846) a group of settlers claimed the then Mexican territory. The bear flag was their sign of independence. Less than a month later, however, the area was occupied by the soldiers of the American army. The bear flag was replaced by that of America (stars and stripes). Despite the fact that the original flag was lost, it was decided in 1911 to revive the old flag. The Grizzly bear on the flag is now no longer found in the state. Furthermore, it is unusual for this flag to be used due to the fact that it stood for an independent country and not for America or any part of it.

California - The Golden State

Extra information

  • State Flower California Poppy
  • State Tree Redwood
  • Staatsvogel California valley quail
  • Staatsinsect California dog-face butterfly
  • California state slogan: Eureka (I have found it)
  • Member of the union since: September 9, 1850