Dams on the Catawba and Yadkin rivers are vital sources of hydroelectric power. Some a hundred peaks rise above 5,000 feet (1,500 metres) in the western a part of the state. One of the chief ridges is made up of the Black Mountain group. On the east are the Blue Ridge Mountains, which rise steeply from the Piedmont to peaks of 3,000 to 4,000 toes (900 to 1,200 metres), with a number of reaching above 6,000 toes (1,800 metres). This region is divided into several cross ridges and plenty of smaller plateaus and basins. The mountain area comprises a plateau broken by two ranges of the southern Appalachians. In the far west the Unaka Mountains comprise the nice Smoky Mountains, which roll westward into Tennessee.
Solely small-craft navigation is possible, due to silting and the shallow sounds and estuaries. The inside Coastal Plain extends a hundred and twenty to 140 miles (190 to 225 km) westward to the Piedmont, which is a area of rolling, forested hills. The area is effectively drained by rivers flowing into the Coastal Plain or South Carolina. The distinguished ridges and hills of the jap Piedmont may be the stays of an historic mountain chain that paralleled the Appalachians, from which spurs extend into the western Piedmont.
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The mountains have a worn, rounded appearance, reflecting a geologic origin earlier than that of the rugged peaks of the American West. Composing nearly half the state, the Coastal Plain consists of a gently rolling, properly-drained interior and a swampy tidewater space close to the coastline. The latter region was the primary to be explored and settled. Mount Mitchell, rising to 6,684 ft (2,037 metres), is the highest peak east of the Mississippi.
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North Carolina extends throughout three main physiographic areas of the United States-the Coastal Plain (or tidewater space), the Piedmont, and the Appalachian Mountains. In addition to producing a spectacular landscape, this regional variation has influenced the state’s climate, soils, plant life, and human geography. In the latter region, the topography turns into irregular, and the land rises about 5 ft (1.5 metres) per mile to the base of the Appalachians, a distance of about 140 miles (225 km). As the land reaches westward from sea level, it rises steadily to the fall line, a zone some 30 miles (50 km) in width that separates the Coastal Plain from the Piedmont.
A protracted chain of islands, the Outer Banks, extends from Virginia to South Carolina, typically consisting of sand dunes that can reach one hundred toes (30 metres) or more in height. The elevation of all the area averages less than 20 ft (6 metres) above sea stage. Three capes-Hatteras, Lookout, and Concern, the primary two inside national seashores-jut into the ocean in an space known as the “graveyard of the Atlantic,” a reference to the many ships which have sunk in its dangerous waters.