Andalucia´s principal mountain range, the Cordillera Bética, comprises two parts: the Sistema Subbético to the north and the Sistema Penibético to the south and accounts for much of Andalucia´s most dramatic and rugged landscape.
In the northern part of the Sistema Subbético is Cazorla Natural Park, which rises to 2,107m.
The Sistema Penibético contains the highest peak in the Iberian Peninsula, Mulhacén at 3,482m in the Sierra Nevada National Park. There are many summits over 3,000m in this part of the Sistema Penibético, making it the second-highest mountain range in Europe, after the Alps.
These mountains have barren, rocky peaks over 2,000m, many of which are snow-covered in winter, while in the Sierra Nevada, which has Europe´s most southerly ski resort, snow may be present for nine months of the year.
Typical vegetation above the treeline consists of cushion-forming plants like gorse and broom which are able to withstand harsh weather conditions, while below this are expanses of pine forest. Both Cazorla and the Sierra Nevada contain a high number of endemic and rare plants.