Most of Nevada is physiographically tied to the Great Basin, a plateau of isolated mountain ranges separated by arid basins. These ranges generally flow north to south; height is generally short, up to 75 miles long and 15 miles wide; and rising from 7,000 – 10,000 ft. The major ranges include the Schell Creek, Ruby, Toiyabe, and Carson (located in the Sierra Nevada). Boundary Peak at 13,140 ft in the southwest is Nevada’s highest point.

Nevada’s largest lake is Pyramid Lake with an area of 188 sq mi in the west. Nevada shares Lake Tahoe with California and Lake Mead, which was created by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, with Arizona. Streams in the Great Basin often disappear during Nevada’s dry spells and many flow into local lakes or sinks without ever reaching the ocean. The Humboldt River flows 290 mi through the northern half of the state into the Humboldt Sink. The Walker, Truckee, and Carson rivers flow through the western part of Nevada. Nevada’s lowest elevation of 479 ft is formed by the canyon carved by the mighty Colorado River that forms the southeastern boundary of the state.