California is the third largest state in square miles, behind Alaska and Texas. About 45 percent of our surface area is covered by forests, more forestland than any other state except Alaska. And many of the trees in the California White Mountains are the oldest in the world, with bristlecone pines as old as 5,000 years. The highest peak in the contiguous 48 states is here, Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet, in the Sierra Nevada range that straddles the California-Nevada border.
Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy our mild climate and the beautiful variety in California terrain, from Pacific Ocean beaches to the northern forests to the Sierra Nevada mountains and the southern deserts. California is home to three spectacular national parks and twenty wilderness areas. The Central Valley, an area about 50 miles wide by 450 miles long parallel to the ocean, is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world, providing more than half of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts grown in the United States.