Subjected to the wind and waves of the Pacific Ocean and shaped by molten lava pushing to the surface, the Western Coastline includes the coastal zone that stretches from southern California through Oregon, Washington, and up to southern Alaska. Great volcanoes as well as lava vents in the ocean helped to mold the mountain ranges that lie along this coast. From the Santa Monica Mountains in southern California to the Cascades and the Columbia Mountains further north in Oregon and Washington, these mountain ranges and their proximity to the ocean shape the differing climates and rugged landscapes of this eco-region.
As varied as the region’s topography, the climate here includes southern California’s mediterranean ecosystem with mild rainy winters and warm dry summers, as well as the more northern and generally colder regions with high precipitation toward Oregon and Washington. From sandy and rocky intertidal zones, to rivers, streams, montane forests, and glaciers, the different landscapes and their climates provide habitats for a host of species, including sea lions and bears in Alaska to bobcats and the beautiful northern harrier hawk in the Santa Monica Mountains.