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Eastern California
Downtown San Bernardino, anchor of the largest metro area in East California and 12th in the United States.
Downtown San Bernardino, anchor of the largest metro area in East California and 12th in the United States.
Counties on California's Eastern Border
Counties on California's Eastern Border
Country United States
State California
Time zone Pacific Standard Time
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time
Area code(s) 530, 442/760, 909, 951

Eastern California is a region defined as either the strip to the east of the crest of the Sierra Nevada or as the easternmost counties of California.


According to the 2010 census, the population of the eastern border counties of California was 5,129,384. However, 4,224,851 (82.4%) lived in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, which are very large and whose populations are concentrated near Los Angeles and Orange counties to the southwest.

Culture and history

Eastern California's history differs significantly from that of the coastal regions and the Central Valley. Northeastern California is very sparsely populated (except for the area around Lake Tahoe): the three least-populated counties of California lie in the northeast. The area tends to be politically conservative, much like the rest of the rural Western United States. However, the counties of San Bernardino and Riverside form the 13th-largest metropolitan area of the United States, and El Dorado and Placer Counties are part of the Greater Sacramento area and are culturally influenced by their respective metropolitan areas. Imperial County in the Southeast, though rural and agrarian, is heavily Democratic and has ties with the Mexicali Valley to the south.

Northeastern California has had strong ties to Nevada, with the exact boundary between the two states having once been a matter of dispute. Residents of an area near Susanville, California tried to break away from the state in 1856, first by declaring themselves part of the Nataqua Territory and then through annexation to Nevada. The two states further squabbled over ownership of Susanville in 1863. The town of Aurora, Nevada, was temporarily the county seat of both Mono County, California, and Esmeralda County, Nevada. Finally, the line between the two states was settled by a survey in 1892.


The easternmost counties of California are (from north to south):

Cities within this region include San Bernardino, Riverside, Ontario, Corona, Rancho Cucamonga, Roseville, Victorville, Temecula, Palm Springs, Lincoln, El Centro, Barstow, South Lake Tahoe, Susanville, Truckee, Grass Valley, Placerville, and Alturas.

Cities larger than 50,000 population

The following incorporated places have a population of 50,000 or greater, according to the 2020 census:

Placer County

  • Roseville: 147,773
  • Rocklin: 71,601

San Bernardino County

  • Apple Valley: 75,791
  • Chino: 91,403
  • Chino Hills: 78,411
  • Colton: 53,909
  • Fontana: 208,393
  • Hesperia: 99,818
  • Highland: 56,999
  • Ontario: 175,265
  • Rancho Cucamonga: 174,453
  • Redlands: 73,168
  • Rialto: 104,026
  • San Bernardino: 222,101
  • Upland: 79,040
  • Victorville: 134,810
  • Yucaipa: 54,542

Riverside County

  • Beaumont: 53,036
  • Cathedral City: 51,493
  • Corona: 157,136
  • Eastvale: 69,757
  • Hemet: 89,833
  • Indio: 89,137
  • Jurupa Valley: 105,053
  • Lake Elsinore: 70,265
  • Menifee: 102,527
  • Moreno Valley: 208,634
  • Murrieta: 110,949
  • Palm Desert: 51,163
  • Perris: 78,700
  • Riverside: 314,998
  • San Jacinto: 53,898
  • Temecula: 110,003


Mesquite Sand Dunes in Death Valley
Sand dunes in Death Valley

Because Eastern California is generally in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada or the Transverse Ranges, the climate is extremely dry and can be considered a desert. Indeed, the hottest and lowest area in North America lies in Death Valley, in the heart of Eastern California.

Geologically, Eastern California is mostly part of the Basin and Range Province, marked by crustal extension, with horsts and grabens. Volcanism is also evident in this region.


The majority of Eastern California experiences two seasons, a long, dry summer and a milder winter in which the rain is concentrated. Most higher elevations experience four distinct seasons. There are some areas where the weather is very diverse. The Sierra Nevada mountain range has larger amounts of snowfall, while the Imperial Valley has more arid conditions. The Sierra Nevada's average temperature is around 47 degrees Fahrenheit and the Imperial Valley is on average 73 degrees Fahrenheit. A record-breaking heat temperature was recorded in Death Valley, at a scorching 134 degrees Fahrenheit on July 10, 1913. With its low and often sporadic rainfall, California is susceptible to drought, and in many parts of the state including Eastern California, there is very high fire danger and there have been several devastating wildfires.


Snowy forest in Boreal, California
Snowy forest at Boreal Mountain Resort

The northern counties of Eastern California are heavily timbered areas. The timber industry is a major contributor to the economy from sale of timber and forest products and the number of jobs that it provides. These timbered areas not only provide valuable income, but are also the main growing sector for the economy for recreation and tourism. In the Sierra Nevada National Forests they experience 50 million recreational visitor days per year. When California became a state, it was one of the leading producers of these timber and forest products. Since then, it has held the third place for the top producer of softwoods since the 1940s. In California there were five counties that contributed to 55 percent of the wood harvested for the state. One of those counties, Plumas, is located in Eastern California.


Major highways

Map of El Dorado County in Northern California
Silver Lake Mammoth September 2016 001
View from State Route 158
  • Modoc County
  • Lassen County
    • U.S. Route 395
    • State Route 36
    • State Route 44
    • State Route 139
    • State Route 299
  • Plumas County
    • California 36.svg State Route 36
    • California 49.svg State Route 49
    • California 70.svg State Route 70
    • California 89.svg State Route 89
    • California 284.svg State Route 284
  • Sierra County
  • Nevada County
    • I-80 (CA).svg Interstate 80
    • California 20.svg State Route 20
    • California 49.svg State Route 49
    • California 89.svg State Route 89
    • California 174.svg State Route 174
  • Placer County
    • I-80 (CA).svg Interstate 80
    • California 28.svg State Route 28
    • California 49.svg State Route 49
    • California 65.svg State Route 65
    • California 89.svg State Route 89
    • California 174.svg State Route 174
    • California 267.svg State Route 267
  • El Dorado County
    • U.S. Route 50
    • State Route 49
    • State Route 89
    • State Route 193
    • Luther Pass
  • Alpine County
    • State Route 4
    • State Route 88
    • State Route 89
  • Mono County
    • US 6 (1961 cutout).svg U.S. Route 6
    • US 395 (1961 cutout).svg U.S. Route 395
    • California 108.svg State Route 108
    • California 120.svg State Route 120
    • California 158.svg State Route 158
    • California 167.svg State Route 167
    • California 182.svg State Route 182
    • California 270.svg State Route 270
  • Inyo County
    • US 6 (1961 cutout).svg U.S. Route 6
    • US 395 (1961 cutout).svg U.S. Route 395
    • California 127.svg State Route 127
    • California 136.svg State Route 136
    • California 168.svg State Route 168
    • California 178.svg State Route 178
    • California 190.svg State Route 190
  • San Bernardino County
    • I-10
    • I-15
    • I-15 Bus.
    • I-40
    • I-215
    • US 95
    • US 395
    • SR 2
    • SR 18
    • SR 38
    • SR 58
    • SR 60
    • SR 62
    • SR 66
    • SR 71
    • SR 83
    • SR 127
    • SR 138
    • SR 142
    • SR 173
    • SR 178
    • SR 189
    • SR 247
    • SR 259
    • SR 330
  • Riverside County
    • I-10
    • I-10 Bus.
    • I-15
    • I-215
    • US 95 (1961 cutout).svg U.S. Route 95
    • US 99 (1961 cutout).svg Historic U.S. Route 99
    • US 395 (CA).svg Historic U.S. Route 395
    • California 60.svg State Route 60
    • California 62.svg State Route 62
    • California 71.svg State Route 71
    • California 74.svg State Route 74
    • California 78.svg State Route 78
    • California 79.svg State Route 79
    • California 86.svg State Route 86
    • California 91.svg State Route 91
    • California 111.svg State Route 111
    • California 177.svg State Route 177
    • California 243.svg State Route 243
    • California 371.svg State Route 371

Educational Institutions

Students at Deep Springs College driving cattle

Private institutions

  • William Jessup University
  • Brandman University
  • National University (campuses in Ontario and San Bernardino)
  • Deep Springs College
  • Loma Linda University
  • University of Redlands

Community Colleges

  • Lassen Community College
  • Feather River College
  • Sierra College
  • Folsom Lake College
  • Lake Tahoe Community College
  • Cerro Coso Community College
  • Palo Verde Community College
  • Barstow Community College
  • Chaffey College
  • Copper Mountain College
  • Crafton Hills College
  • San Bernardino Valley College
  • University of La Verne
  • Victor Valley College
  • Mt. San Jacinto College

Public Institutions

National Parks

Mount Lassen (3639369082)
Mount Lassen
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