The Sierra Nevada, meaning "snowy range" in Spanish, is a mountain range in the region of Andalusia in Spain. It contains the highest point of continental Spain, Mulhacén at .
It is a popular tourist destination, as its high peaks make skiing possible in Europe's most southern ski resort in an area along the Mediterranean Sea predominantly known for its warm temperatures and abundant sunshine. At its foothills is found the city of Granada and, a little farther, Málaga and Almería.
Parts of the range have been included in the Sierra Nevada National Park. The range has also been declared a biosphere reserve. The Sierra Nevada Observatory is located on the northern slopes at 2800 m.
The Sierra Nevada were formed during the Alpine Orogeny
, a mountain-building event that also formed the European Alps
to the east and the Atlas Mountains
of northern Africa across the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The Sierra as observed today formed during the Tertiary Period
(65 to 1.8 million years ago) from the collision of the African and Eurasian continental plates
Central to the mountain range is a ridge running broadly west-south-west - east-north-east. For a substantial distance, the watershed stays consistently above 3000m in altitude.
On the southern side of the range, several long but narrow river valleys lead off towards the south-west, separated by a number of subsidiary ridges.
On the steeper and craggier northern side, the valleys have less regular orientations. This side is dominated by the Rio Genil which starts near Mulhacén and into which many of the other rivers flow.
- Francisco Pérez Raya, Joaquín Molero Mesa, Francisco Valle Tendero, 1992: "Parque Natural de Sierra Nevada. Paisaje, fauna, flora, itinerarios". Ed. Rueda. Madrid. ISBN 84-7207-067-0 (Spanish)
- "Flora de la Tundra de Sierra Nevada". Pablo Prieto Fernández, Ed. Universidad de Granada. ISBN ISBN 84-600-1810-5 (Spanish)
- "Sierra Nevada: Guía de Montaña". Aurelio del Castillo y Antonio del Castillo. Ed. Penibética, 2003. ISBN 84-932022-3-1 (Spanish)