What Are the Major Bodies of Water in California?

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The major bodies of water in California include Lake Tahoe, the Gulf of California, the Sacramento River, the San Joaquin River, Salton Sea, Clear Lake and Lake Shasta. The Gulf of California, also called the Sea of Cortez or the Vermillion Sea, is a narrow sea that separates the Baja California Peninsula from mainland Mexico. It is considered one of the most diverse seas in the world.

California is one of the most diverse states in the United States with its temperate rainforest, desert, mountain ranges and more than 3,000 bodies of water. The largest inland lake in the state in terms of area coverage is the Salton Sea. Originally a closed drainage basin, the inland sea was accidentally created during irrigation efforts to Coachella Valley in 1905.

Lake Tahoe is the largest and deepest lake in the state in terms of volume and depth. Located on the border between Nevada and California, Lake Tahoe has an enormous depth of 1,643 feet and is said to hold roughly 36 cubic miles of water. Because of its depth, the lake never freezes all year long.

Sacramento River is the principal river in Northern California and the largest contained river in Lake County. The river starts in the Klamath Mountains and flows 445 miles before reaching the state’s Central Valley. It drains in 19 California counties and greatly supports the state’s agricultural economy.