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The Appalachians and the Ozarks, Natural Features

Ozark Plateau, Appalachian Plateau, Mount Mitchell, Blue Ridge area, Ouachita Mountains

The Appalachian Region consists of highlands running from the mountains of west-central New York in the north to central Alabama in the south. It includes the Appalachian Mountains and a number of surrounding features. The mountains lie roughly parallel to the Atlantic Coast and rise from the Coastal Plain, a flat, low-lying area that stretches along the East Coast from southern Maine to Texas. Between the coastal plain and the mountains is the Piedmont, an area of rolling foothills. To the west of the Appalachians is the Appalachian Plateau, an area of hilly uplands that extends from Pennsylvania to Alabama and descends gradually to the lowlands of the central United States.

The Appalachian Region terminates in the south at the edge of the coastal plain. The northeastern boundary of the Appalachian region lies along the western edge of Megalopolis where urban land use changes to rural land use. The eastern edge follows the change in topography between the rolling uplands of the Southern Piedmont and the Blue Ridge Mountains (the highest range of the Appalachians). To the west, the boundary runs along the western edge of the Appalachian Plateau.

The Appalachian area consists of four distinct landform regions: the Northern Piedmont, the Blue Ridge-Great Smoky Mountains, the Ridge and Valley section, and the Appalachian Plateau. The Northern Piedmont is a gently undulating surface on the inland section of the coastal plain. It reaches only a few hundred feet above sea level at its highest elevations. The western portion of the Northern Piedmont contains productive soils that are fine agricultural lands.

The Blue Ridge is made up of igneous and metamorphic crystalline rocks and includes the highest mountains in the eastern United States. In North Carolina, Mount Mitchell, in the Great Smoky Mountains, is the highest point in the region at 2,037 m (6,684 ft) above sea level. Because of heavy rainfall and warm temperatures, the Blue Ridge area is covered with an impressive forest. The ridges vary in shape and size, but the valleys are mostly flat, narrow, and cleared for agriculture.

Just west of the Blue Ridge is the Great Valley, a natural lowland route running northeast-southwest. The valley is known locally as the Cumberland Valley and the Shenandoah Valley. To the west of the valley, the Appalachian Plateau is chiefly hill country.

The Ozarks include two geographic areas: the Ouachita Mountains and Valleys, and the Ozark Plateau. Together, they represent the only large area of rugged topography between the Appalachians and the Rockies. The rugged Boston Mountains constitute the highest section of the Ozark Plateau. The mountains reach a maximum elevation of more than 850 m (more than 2,800 ft) near Pettigrew, Arkansas. Several popular recreation spots, including Devilís Den State Park, are located in the Boston Mountains. Oak and pine forests cover the Ouachita Mountains, which stretch about 360 km (about 220 mi) between Little Rock, Arkansas, on the east end to Atoka, Oklahoma, on the west.



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