Landforms in Nevada


Nevada has great landform diversity. The state is primarily a plateau that has elevations in the southern part ranging from 2,000 feet to 3,000 feet above sea level, in the east from 5,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level, and in the west from 3,800 to 5,000 feet above sea level. Nevada has two of the largest deserts in North America, the Mojave and the Great Basin, along with one of the nation's largest mountain ranges, the Sierra Nevada.

Landforms Defined

  • A landform is a topographic feature formed by caused by erosion, sedimentation, or movement. Landforms can vary in size from deep walled canyons to small ravines. Mountains and desert and the predominant landforms in Nevada.


  • Nevada has the most mountains of any of the lower 48 states, according to the National Park Service. Nevada has 314 named mountain ranges and 2,167 individual mountains. The Sierra Nevada range snakes its way along the state's western border at 400 miles long but only part of this range lies within Nevada.

    The longest range within the state is the Toiyabe range which has a length of 135 miles. Boundary Peak towers 13,130 feet above sea level and is the the tallest mountain in Nevada.


  • Rivers account for 1 percent of the state's land mass. However, 75 percent of the creatures in Nevada depend on rivers. Only two Nevada rivers, the Colorado and the Virgin River, make it to the sea.

    Most of the state's rivers empty into the Great Basin Desert or dry lake beds. A good example is the Humboldt River, the largest river in Nevada,which runs 500 miles from the Humboldt Mountains to the Humboldt Sink in the Great Basin Desert.


  • Lake Mead is the largest lake in Nevada, at 157,900 acres or 247 square miles, in southern Nevada on the border of Nevada and Arizona. Lake Mead provides southern Nevada and three other states with drinking water. Pyramid Lake in northern Nevada covers nearly 125,000 acres, making it the largest natural lake in Nevada. Unlike the other lakes, Pyramid Lake is saltwater.

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  • Photo Credit sierra nevada image by thierry planche from
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