The Basin and Range landscape is characterized by having a series of mountain ranges sitting parallel to low valley basins, where the basins are relatively flat and wide and the mountains can either rise abruptly or slope gradually upward out of the basins.
Within the Basin and Range Region, basins typically range from 4,000 to 5,000 ft in elevation, with the mountain ranges climbing 3,000 to 5,000 ft above that. Death Valley, California is the lowest of the basins with a low elevation of -282 ft. Telescope Peak, in the Panamint Range just to the west of Death Valley, has an elevation of 11,050 feet, showing the enormous topographic variation within the area.
Centered on the state of Nevada and extending from southern Oregon to western Texas, the Basin and Range Province is an immense region of alternating, north-south-trending, faulted mountains and flat valley floors. It has no counterpart elsewhere in the U.S. The province was created about 20 million years ago as the Earth's crust stretched, thinned, and then broke into some 400 mountain blocks that partly rotated from their originally horizontal positions. These mountains of late Precambrian and Paleozoic rock continue to erode and fill the intervening valleys with fresh sediment. -USGS
Within the Basin and Range Province, the Earth's crust (and upper mantle) has been stretched up to 100% of its original width. The entire region has been subjected to extension that thinned and cracked the crust as it was pulled apart, creating large faults. Along these roughly north-south-trending faults mountains were uplifted and valleys down-dropped, producing the distinctive alternating pattern of linear mountain ranges and valleys of the Basin and Range province. -NPS