The Transverse Ranges are a complex series of mountain ranges and valleys distinguished by an anomalous dominant east-west trend, contrasting to the NW-SE direction of the Coast Ranges to the north and the Peninsular Ranges to the south. Sedimentary rocks predominate to the west of the San Gabriel Mountains. Structural trends (NW-SE and NE-SW) subordinate to a major east-west direction are significant in the formation of important oil field structures. The Cenozoic sedimentary section is one of the thickest in the world. The western limit of the province is the island group of San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz. The eastern section of the region is dominated by a series of mountain blocks formed from Mesozoic granitic rocks and ancient Precambrian rocks of all types, including coarse grained intrusives. These dominate the rocks of the Sierra Pelona, San Gabriel, and San Bernardino mountains. The eastern limit, within the Mojave Desert, includes the San Bernardino Mountains on the northeast side of the San Andreas Fault.

A collection of unique aerial panoramas of this region may be seen in the
Transverse Ranges section of the California Atlas of Panoramic Aerial Images.