The character of the ranges varies considerably, from the record-setting tidewater glaciers in the ranges of Alaska, to the low but rugged and scrub-covered hills of southern California, but the entire coast is consistent in dropping steeply into the sea, often resulting in photogenic views. Along the British Columbia and Alaska coast, the mountains intermix with the sea in a complex maze of fjords, with thousands of islands.
There is a handful of small coastal plains at the mouths of rivers that have punched through the mountains, most notably at the Copper River in Alaska, the Fraser River in British Columbia, the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon, and the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers in California, which create San Francisco Bay.
From the vicinity of San Francisco Bay north, it is common in winter for cool unstable air masses from the Gulf of Alaska to make landfall in one of the Coast Ranges, resulting in heavy precipitation, both as rain and snow, especially on their western slopes.
Omitted from the list below, but often included is the Sierra Nevada, a major mountain range of eastern California that is separated by the Central Valley over much of its length from the California Coast Ranges and the Transverse Ranges.
Only the largest icefields are listed above; smaller icefields may be listed on the various range pages. Formally unnamed icefields are not listed