Central Valley of California

Great Central Valley (California) Introduction

The Central Valley is a narrow, belt­shaped valley, that is geographically bound by the Coasts in the west, the Sierra Nevada Range in the east, the Rockies in the north and the Desert in the south. The valley is (finely) demarcated into the Sacramento Valley and San Joaquin Valley going from north to south.


The Central Valley is a large basin comprising of several thousand feet thick alluvial sediments, deposited by river­ erosion from the North & East mountain ranges, over millions of years. Underneath thee layers are California’s richest oil reserves.

Great Central Valley History

California's Central Valley is a flat valley that rules the middle of the U.S. state of California. It is 40 to 60 miles broad and area approx 450 miles from north to southeast, towards from and which is parallel to the Pacific Ocean. The valley covers about 22,500 sq miles occupying 13.7% land of California and which is home to large productive agricultural area with 230 crops are grown there.

The Central Valley consists of two major parts: the Sacramento Valley in north and the drier San Joaquin Valley in the south, with the Tulare Basin at the southernmost end. The Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems meet to form a delta, a large area of combined canals, stream beds, sloughs, marshes and peat islands, eventually flowing to the Pacific by means of San Francisco Bay. Basically Tulare Basin will never flow into ocean even though it is linked with canals to San Joaquin which naturally drain over there.


The valley is a rain­shadow region, that receives limited rainfall during the winter. The precipitation in the north is average, whereas it is scanty down south. The Death Valley down south is one of the most arid regions of the western hemisphere, and also once recorded a day­temperature of 57 degrees celsius.

Natural Resources

The major natural reserves of this region are Crude Oil, as mentioned earlier. But the quality of crude and the costs of extraction are major deterrents to large­scale rigging on a regular basis.


Comprising of grasses and herbs/wildflower plants on one end, to the imposing Giant Sequoia trees at the other end of the scale, the flora is varied across the valley. The scenic wildflower vegetation has stunning carpets of lupines, poppies and sunflowers. The Giant Sequoia trees can be thousands of years old, have girths running into hundreds of feet, and can grow up to thousands of feet tall!


Actual fauna, as expected, varies depending on the ecological pocket of the region. Marshes are home to small mammals such as the Muskrat and the Beaver, and a very rich variety of insect population. Grasslands and Woodlands are inhabited by a wide variety of mammals, lizards and snakes.


Birds are seasonal migrators, and are always in search of waterhole pockets. The freshwater marshes see them being the dominant dwellers and nesters. Several stunning species of aves, including swans, geese, ducks and shorebirds in large numbers. The Riparian Woodlands generally see large numbers of Woodland Warblers.


The Central Valley is popularly marketed as “The Land of a Billion Vegetables”, and is a good example of labour­extensive, mechanized farming; with subsidized irrigation facilities to farmers. Agriculture seems to be on the decline, though. Recent droughts and human­ induced climate change are forcing farmers to go to greener pastures.


Based on most recent census data, this region has a human population of close to 2 million, with majority being White and Hispanic. There is also a significant portion of Black and Asian ­origin residents. The demography sees around 30% of the population to be under the age of 18, and roughly 20% under the poverty line

Central Valley of California Facts

Location California, United States
Long-axis Length 450 mi (720 km)
Width 40 to 60 miles (64 to 97 km)
Area 22,500 square miles (58,000 km2)
Depth 2,000 to 6,000 feet (610 to 1,830 m)
Type Alluvial
Age 2-3 million years
Bounded by Sierra Nevada (east), Cascade Range, Klamath Mountains (north), Coast Range, San Francisco Bay (west), Tehachapi Mountains (south)
Coordinates 40°12′N 122°12
Population Centers Redding, Chico, Yuba City, Sacramento, Stockton, Porterville, Modesto, Turlock, Merced, Fresno, Visalia, Bakersfield, Clovis
Traversed by Interstate 5, Interstate 80, State Route 99
Watercourses Sacramento River, San Joaquin River, Kings River
Zip Codes 96019, 96079

Boundaries and Population

The Central Valley is surrounded by Cascade, Sierra Nevada, Tehachapi mountain ranges on the East and Coast Ranges, San Francisco Bay on the west.

Sub regions and their counties usually connected with the valley comprise:

  • North Sacramento Valley (Shasta, Tehama, Glenn, Butte, Colusa)
  • Sacramento Metro (Sacramento, El Dorado, Sutter, Yuba, Yolo, Placer)
  • North San Joaquin (San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced)
  • South San Joaquin (Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, Kern)

At present 65 million people live in Central Valley and has 12 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) and 1 Micropolitan Statistical Area(μSA).

The following metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas listed below:

  • Sacramento Metropolitan Area (2,527,123)
  • Fresno Metropolitan Area (1,081,315)
  • Bakersfield Metropolitan Area (839,361)
  • Stockton Metropolitan Area (696,214)
  • Modesto Metropolitan Area (518,522)
  • Visalia-Porterville Metropolitan Area (449,253)
  • Merced Metropolitan Area (259,898)
  • Chico Metropolitan Area (220,266)
  • Redding Metropolitan Area (177,774)
  • Yuba City Metropolitan Area (167,497)
  • Hanford-Corcoran Metropolitan Area (153,765)
  • Madera Metropolitan Area (152,925)
  • Red Bluff Micropolitan Area (63,601)

Climate / Weather Forecast

The Central Valley has a Mediterranean climate and in summer daytime temperatures approach 100 °F (38 °C) to 115 °F (46 °C).


Hmong is the most commonly spoken language in Central Valley.

Central Valley of California Attraction & Getaways

Things to Do

  • Sunshine Rafting Adventures
  • The Hays Antique Truck Museum
  • Hedric AG History Center
  • Blackbeard's Family Entertainment
  • Bob Hope Theatre
  • Camelot Park
  • Antioch Waterpark
  • Explorit Science Center
  • Hilmar Cheese Visitor Center
  • Jelly Belly Visitor's Center
  • Oakdale Cowboy Museum
  • Rotary Storyland/Playland
  • Forestiere Underground Gardens
  • The Tower Theatre
  • Wild Water Adventures
  • Woodland Opera House Theatre
  • Adventure Park
  • Bakersfield Speedway
  • Bakersfield Museum of Art
  • California Living Museum
  • Chaffee Zoological Gardens
  • El Campanil Theatre
  • Hanford Fox Theatre
  • Haggin Museum
  • Imagine U Interactive Children's Museum
  • Kern County Museum
  • Sacramento RiverTrain
  • Children's Museum of Stockton
  • U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame
  • Shinzen Japanese Garden


Date & Time Event Name
January 1 (8:00 AM) The Rose Bowl Parade
April 25 Butter and Egg Days Parade and Festival
April 26 Petaluma's Annual Spring Antique Faire
June 20-21 Hollister Airshow, Hollister
July 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19 Mary Poppins, Oakland
August 22-23 Palo Alto Festival of the Arts, Palo Alto
August 25 Taste of Oakdale, Oakdale
September 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13 Aida, Oakland
September 14 Oakdale Chamber Golf Classic, Oakdale
December 31 Singles New Year's ROCKIN' Eve, Del Mar

National Parks

  • San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park
  • Redwood National and State Parks
  • California National Historic Trail
  • Pony Express National Historic Trail
  • Alcatraz Island
  • Eugene O'neill National Historic Site
  • Fort Point National Historic Site
  • Golden Gate National Recreation Area
  • John Muir National Historic Site
  • Muir Woods National Monument
  • Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Presidio of San Francisco
  • Pinnacles National Monument
  • Channel Islands National Park
  • Juan Bautista De Anza National Historic Trail
  • Old Spanish National Historic Trail
  • Cabrillo National Monument
  • Old Spanish National Historic Trail
  • Juan Bautista De Anza National Historic Trail
  • Old Spanish National Historic Trail
  • Mojave National Preserve
  • Juan Bautista De Anza National Historic Trail
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • California National Historic Trail
  • Manzanar National Historic Site
  • California National Historic Trail
  • Lava Beds National Monument
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
  • California National Historic Trail

Ski Resorts

  • Alpine Meadows Ski Area
  • Badger Pass Ski Area in Yosemite
  • Bear Valley Mountain Resort
  • Boreal Mountain Resort
  • Dodge Ridge Ski Area
  • Donner Ski Ranch
  • Granlibakken Ski Resort
  • Heavenly Ski Resort
  • Homewood Moutain Resort
  • Kirkwood Ski Resort
  • Mammoth Mountain
  • Montecito-Sequoia Resort
  • Northstar at Tahoe
  • China Peak
  • Soda Springs Winter Resort
  • Squaw Valley USA
  • Sugar Bowl Ski Resort
  • Tamarack Cross-Country Ski Center
  • Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area
  • Mt. Shasta Board & Ski Park
  • Rim Nordic & Green Valley Nordic
  • Snow Valley Mountain Resort
  • Snow Summit Mountain Resort
  • Ski Sunrise
  • Mt. Baldy
  • Mountain High Resort
  • Big Bear Mountain Resort
  • Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort

List of Cities

  • Angels Camp
  • Atwater
  • Ceres
  • Chowchilla
  • Dos Palos
  • Escalon
  • Gustine
  • Hughson
  • Lathrop
  • Livingston
  • Lodi
  • Los Banos
  • Manteca
  • Merced
  • Modesto
  • Newman
  • Oakdale
  • Patterson
  • Ripon
  • Riverbank
  • Sonora
  • Stockton
  • Tracy
  • Turlock
  • Waterford

Camping Grounds

  • Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreational Area
  • Millerton Lake State Recreation Area
  • Lake McClure and Lake McSwain Campgrounds
  • Turlock Lake State Recreation Area

Hiking Areas

  • American Canyon - Dead Truck Trail
  • Auburn State Recreation Area
  • American Eagle Mine Trail
  • American River Confluence to Lake Clementine
  • Guy West Bridge to Goethe Park
  • Avery's Pond Trail
  • Beeks Bight Nature Trail
  • Big Trees North Grove Trails
  • Bobelaine Audubon Sanctuary
  • Capitol Park Loop
  • China Gulch Trail
  • Codfish Falls
  • Confluence Trail
  • Cosumnes River Walk
  • Robie Point Firebreak Trail
  • Dave Moore Nature Area Trail
  • Davis-Covell Greenbelt
  • Diggins Loop Trail
  • East Ridge – Long Valley Trail Loop
  • Effie Yeaw Nature Center Trails
  • Empire Mine Loop
  • Englebright Lake
  • Green Valley Trail
  • Hadrock Trail
  • Hidden Falls Trail
  • Jones Bar Loop
  • Lodi Lake Nature Trail
  • Penner, Rock, and Crooked Lakes
  • Redbud Trail
  • Ruck-A-Chucky Rapids Trail

Natural Landmarks

Name Date County
Amboy Crater May 1973 San Bernardino
Anza-Borrego Desert 1974 Imperial, Riverside, San Diego
Audubon Canyon 1968 Marin
Año Nuevo State Reserve 1980 San Mateo
American River and Phoenix Park Vernal Pools 1976 Sacramento
Black Chasm Cave 1976 Amador
Burney Falls 1984 Shasta
Cinder Cone Natural Area 1973 San Bernardino
Cosumnes River Preserve 1976 Sacramento
Deep Springs Marsh 1975 Inyo
Dixon Vernal Pools 1987 Solano
Elder Creek 1964 Mendocino
Emerald Bay 1968 El Dorado
Eureka Dunes 1983 Inyo
Fish Slough 1975 Inyo, Mono
Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes 1974 San Luis Obispo
Imperial Sand Hills 1966 Imperial
Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks 2006 Orange
Lake Shasta Caverns May 2012 Shasta
Miramar Mounds 1972 San Diego
Mitchell Caverns 1975 San Bernardino
Mt. Diablo State Park 1982 Contra Costa
Mount Shasta 1976 Siskiyou
Pixley Vernal Pools 1987 Tulare
Point Lobos 1967 Monterey
Pygmy Forest at Van Damme State Park 1969 Mendocino
Rainbow Basin 1966 San Bernardino
La Brea Tar Pits (Rancho La Brea) 1964 Los Angeles
San Andreas Fault 1965 San Benito
San Felipe Creek 1974 Imperial San Diego
Sand Ridge Wildflower Preserve 1984 Kern
Sharktooth Hill 1976 Kern
Tijuana River Estuary 1973 San Diego
Torrey Pines State Reserve 1977 San Diego
Trona Pinnacles 1967 San Bernardino
Turtle Mountain 1973 San Bernardino

Central Valley Lakes

  1. Lake Natoma - Folsom
  2. Folsom Lake - Folsom
  3. Lake Solano - Winters
  4. Sacramento Delta - Stockton
  5. Lake Camanche - Ione photograph included
  6. Lake Tulloch - Jamestown
  7. Woodward Reservoir - Oakdale
  8. Modesto Reservoir - Modesto
  9. Turlock Lake - Turlock
  10. Eastman Lake - Madera
  11. Hensley Lake - Madera
  12. Millerton Lake - Friant
  13. Pine Flat Lake - Piedra
  14. San Luis Reservoir / O'Neill Forebay - Los Banos
  15. Lake Kaweah - Lemon Cove
  16. Success Lake - Porterville
  17. Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area - Taft

Duck Hunting Video

Central Valley of California Images / Photos

Central Valley of California Map
Central Valley of California Map
Central Valley of California Road Transportation
Central Valley of California Road Transportation
Central Valley of California Map on USA
Central Valley of California Map on USA
Central Valley of California Water Resources
Central Valley of California Water Resources