New Jersey is divided into four geological areas: the Appalachian Ridge and Valley, the Highlands, the Piedmont Plateau and the Coastal Plain, which covers 60% of the state. Moderated by the ocean, the average temperatures range from highs of 74 degrees in mid-summer to lows of 30 degrees in January.
The Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region is a mountainous area in the northwest corner of the state. It includes the Kittatinny Mountains and several valleys. The Mountains run parallel to the state's northwestern border and the Delaware Water Gap cuts through the mountains to form one of the most scenic areas in the east. The Appalachian Valley lies southeast of the Kittatinny Mountains. Herds of dairy cattle graze on the grassy slopes of the valley and farmers raise apples and vegetables.
The Highlands, also known as the New England Upland, lie southeast of the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region. Flat-topped ridges of hard rock, called gneiss, cover much of the Highlands and many lakes nestle among the ridges. These lakes are important tourist attractions.
The Piedmont crosses northern New Jersey in a belt southeast of the Highlands. About three-fifths of the state's population is located in the Piedmont area. The region includes cities such as Elizabeth, Jersey City, Newark and Paterson. These cities are important industrial cities in large part due to the many large rivers in the region including the Hudson, the Passaic, the Ramapo and the Raritan.
The Atlantic Coastal Plain is a gently rolling lowland that covers the southern three-fifths of the state. Less than half the plain lies less than 100 feet above sea level. In the west and southwest, fertile soil supports farmland. To the east, pine forests and salt marshes cover much of the plain and the areas are thinly populated. Over 50 resort cities and towns including Asbury Park, Atlantic City and Cape May lie on the eastern edge of the Atlantic Coastal Plain.
New Jersey has warm to hot summers and cold winters. Snowfall averages about 13 inches a year in the south and 50 inches in the north. The state averages 45 inches of precipitation a year.