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Sierra Nevada

Range TypeMountain range with well-recognized name
Highest PointMount Whitney (14,495 ft/4418 m)
CountriesUnited States
States/ProvincesCalifornia (98%), Nevada (2%)
(numbers are approximate percentage of range area)
Area39,612 sq mi / 102,594 sq km
Area may include lowland areas
Extent389 mi / 626 km North-South
231 mi / 373 km East-West
Center Lat/Long37° 36' N; 119° 59' W
Map LinkMicrosoft Bing Map

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The Sierra Nevada, John Muir's "Range of Light", is perhaps the most beautiful single range in the contiguous United States, as well as the highest and longest. The Rockies may be longer, but do not have the unified and contiuous mass the Sierra presents. On shaded relief maps, the huge elongate blob of the Sierra, rising from the flat Central Valley on the west and the deserts of the Great Basin on the east, stands out strikingly as a truly enormous and important mountain grouping.

Even though Colorado has 54 peaks over 14,000 feet to the 11 in the Sierra, and only Mount Whitney rises higher than the highest summits in the Rockies, it can still claim to be the highest range in the 48 states. It is also much more of a climber's range than most others in the American west, with a huge variety of technical rock routes and fair number of summits where ascents require serious mountaineering skill by the easiest route. The only serious mountain element lacking in the Sierra is real glaciation.

Since the Sierra is one long, uninterrupted crest utterly without major geographical or political boundaries crossing it, subdividing the range is bound to be an arbitrary exercise. The PEMRACS attempts to chop things up, but the sub-ranges presented here are nothing more than one person's vain attempt to impose an order that is not really there.

Map of Sierra Nevada
Click on red triangle icons for links to other ranges.


Note: Range borders shown on map are an approximation and are not authoritative.
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Other Ranges: To go to pages for other ranges either click on the map above, or on range names in the hierarchy snapshot below, which show the parent, siblings, and children of the Sierra Nevada.
Pacific RangesLevel 2 (Parent)
         Northwest Coast IslandsLevel 3 (Sibling)
         Coast MountainsLevel 3 (Sibling)
         Northwest U.S. Coast RangesLevel 3 (Sibling)
         Central and Southern California RangesLevel 3 (Sibling)
         Baja CaliforniaLevel 3 (Sibling)
         Cascade RangeLevel 3 (Sibling)
         Sierra NevadaLevel 3
                 Northern Sierra NevadaLevel 4 (Child)
                 Lake Tahoe-Sonora Pass Sierra NevadaLevel 4 (Child)
                 Yosemite-Ritter Sierra NevadaLevel 4 (Child)
                 Central Sierra NevadaLevel 4 (Child)
                 Sequoia Sierra NevadaLevel 4 (Child)
                 Southern Sierra NevadaLevel 4 (Child)



Major Peaks of the Sierra Nevada

Ten Highest Peaks
RankPeak NameftmRange4
1.Mount Whitney14,4954418Sequoia Sierra Nevada
2.Mount Williamson14,3734381Sequoia Sierra Nevada
3.North Palisade14,2424341Central Sierra Nevada
4.Mount Sill14,1534314Central Sierra Nevada
5.Mount Russell14,0884294Sequoia Sierra Nevada
6.Polemonium Peak14,080+4292+Central Sierra Nevada
7.Split Mountain14,0584285Central Sierra Nevada
8.Mount Langley14,0264275Sequoia Sierra Nevada
9.Mount Tyndall14,0194273Sequoia Sierra Nevada
10.Mount Muir14,0124271Sequoia Sierra Nevada
Sub-peaks are excluded from this list. List may not be complete, since only summits in the PBC Database are included.
Child Range High Points
RankPeak NameftmRange4
1.Mount Whitney14,4954418Sequoia Sierra Nevada
2.North Palisade14,2424341Central Sierra Nevada
3.Mount Ritter13,1434006Yosemite-Ritter Sierra Nevada
4.Olancha Peak12,1233695Southern Sierra Nevada
5.Leavitt Peak11,5693526Lake Tahoe-Sonora Pass Sierra Nevada
6.Mount Lola91482788Northern Sierra Nevada



Photos of Peaks in the Sierra Nevada

Mount Whitney

Mount Whitney is the flat-topped feature to the left and behind the much more spectacular-looking Keeler Needle in this picture taken from the final section of the Mount Whitney trail (1989-06-13).
North Palisade

Aerial photo of North Palisade from a Cessna flying at 13,800 feet. Photo by Jim Earl. Photo by Edward Earl.
Mount Sill
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Mount Sill in the California Palisades (2001-07-17). Photo by James Barlow.
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Mount Ritter
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Mount Ritter and Banner Peak are reflected in Shadow Lake on a bluebird morning (2009-09-09).
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Mount Lyell
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The tilted summit plateau of Mount Lyell and the shrinking Lyell Glacier below (2009-09-11).
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Mount Dana

Mount Dana is an enormous pile of talus--view from Mount Gibbs (1992-08-25).
Banner Peak
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Mount Ritter and Banner Peak are reflected in Shadow Lake on a bluebird morning (2009-09-09).
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Stanislaus Peak
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Stanislaus Peak viewed from the southeast approach (2012-08-23). Photo by David Porter.
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Freel Peak
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The windbreak at the summit of Freel Peak in the Tahoe-area Sierra (2009-09-05).
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Mount Rose
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Mount Rose is the highest and most prominent Sierra Nevada peak in the state of Nevada (2009-09-04).
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