Menifee, CA: An Overview of the City’s Geography

Introduction to Menifee’s Location and Landscape

Menifee is a city located in Riverside County, California, situated in the heart of southern California’s Inland Empire region.

With a population of over 95,000 as of 2020, Menifee is a fast-growing suburb situated about 15 miles southeast of downtown Riverside, 60 miles northeast of San Diego, and 80 miles east of Los Angeles.

Menifee’s Geographic Coordinates and Position

Geographically, Menifee is located at 33°42′30′′N 117°12′22′′W. The city covers a total land area of 46.9 square miles at an elevation ranging between 1440 to 1925 feet above sea level.

Menifee is situated in a valley between several small mountain ranges, including the Lake Mathews-Estelle Mountain Area to the northwest and Double Butte Mountain to the southeast.

Overview of Topography and Major Geographic Features

As a suburb situated at the edge of a valley, much of Menifee consists of gentle rolling hills interspersed with flatter areas well-suited for residential and commercial development.

However, some more rugged topography can be found on the outskirts, especially to the north and east including Gavilan Mountain and parts of the Lake Mathews Estelle Mountain Reserve.

Several small lakes and reservoirs are also a notable geographic feature, in particular Diamond Valley Lake and Lake Matthews Reservoir.

A Detailed Look at Menifee’s Borders and Neighborhoods

Menifee is bordered by several other cities and unincorporated communities in Riverside County. Here’s an overview of Menifee’s borders and the major neighborhoods within the city limits:

Borders and Adjacent Cities

North: Bordered by the unincorporated community of Romoland
West: Bordered by the city of Canyon Lake and unincorporated land
South: Bordered by the city of Murrieta
East: Bordered by the city of Perris

Major Neighborhoods and Districts

Sun City: Large senior living community established in the 1960s, comprised of over 9,000 homes for residents aged 55+
Newport Estates: One of the city’s newer planned communities, built in the early 2000s
Heritage Lake: Master-planned community surrounding a man-made lake
Romola Farms: Semi-rural equestrian neighborhood in western Menifee
Downtown Menifee: Historic core of the city centered around Menifee Road and Newport Road; site of City Hall and other civic buildings

A Closer Look at Natural Features and Water Bodies

Although a growing suburb, Menifee contains some beautiful natural features and rural landscapes, especially on the periphery of the developed areas. Here are some of the notable natural geographic elements within and around Menifee’s city limits:

Lakes, Reservoirs, and Watersheds

Diamond Valley Lake: Large man-made reservoir owned by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
Lake Matthews: Major reservoir along the San Jacinto River
San Jacinto River: Major river flowing from the San Jacinto Mountains through Lake Matthews and Canyon Lake
Salt Creek: Tributary of the San Jacinto River running through western Menifee
Ethanac Wash: Channel/tributary draining into Diamond Valley Lake

Hills, Mountains, and Heights

Double Butte Mountain: Distinctive small mountain peak (1898 ft) within the city limits
Gavilan Mountain: Part of the Lake Mathews Estelle Mountain Reserve north of Menifee (2590 ft)
Simpson Hills: Low mountain range (1900 ft) forming Menifee’s northeastern border

Parks and Protected Wilderness Areas

Lake Mathews-Estelle Mountain Reserve: 9000+ acre county wilderness park north of Menifee
Motte Rimrock Reserve: 640 acre reserve with hiking trails southeast of Menifee
Joan F. Stephens Park: New city park featuring sports fields & natural habitats

Examining Menifee’s Geology, Soils, and Seismicity

Menifee’s location, underlying geology, and placement near several fault lines contribute to its seismic risk profile.

Earth Materials and Composition

As part of inland Southern California, Menifee lies within the California Floristic Province, a large geographic zone characterized by a Mediterranean climate and chaparral/scrub biome adapted to the climate. The city itself lies in the Riverside Lowlands section of this province.

Underneath much of Menifee lies very old Precambrian igneous and metamorphic bedrock covered by more recent alluvial sand, silt, and gravel deposits washed out of the mountains. Eastern Menifee includes some outcroppings of Cretaceous-era granitic rock.

Soil Composition

According the USDA NRCS Web Soil Survey, Menifee’s soil makeup is dominated by various sandy loams intermixed with rockier silty and gravelly loams.

Specific major soil series mapped include Gorgonio, San Emigdio, Arbuckle, and Las Posas soils.

Seismicity and Active Faults

Menifee lies in a seismically active region of Southern California near the intersection of several fault zones capable of generating damaging earthquakes. Major fault lines near Menifee include:

  • San Jacinto Fault Zone: Capable of 7.5M quakes, one segment runs along Salt Creek in western Menifee
  • Elsinore Fault Zone: Can generate 6.5-7.5M quakes, passes 10 miles southwest of Menifee
  • San Andreas Fault: Infamous fault line 75 miles northeast capable of massive 8M earthquakes

While no major quakes have struck recently, Menifee has experienced several small earthquakes between 2.5-4.5 in magnitude over the past couple decades. The region is expected to see a large quake at some point.

Menifee’s Mild Year-Round Climate

Despite its inland location fairly distant from the moderating effects of the Pacific Ocean, Menifee enjoys a generally mild, Mediterranean climate characterized by warm, sunny weather for much of the year. Here are some key aspects of Menifee’s climate profile:

Temperatures and Precipitation

Menifee sees hot, mostly dry summers and cooler winters with a good portion of its modest annual rainfall.

  • Average High Temperatures: 90F (summer) to 63F (winter)
  • Average Low Temperatures: 62F (summer) to 41F (winter)
  • Average Annual Precipitation: 12 inches per year

Microclimates and Inland Climate Variations

Parts of Menifee have a slightly different microclimate based on elevation and geography. For examples:

  • Cooler in northern parts at higher elevations
  • Less rainfall in the valleys and to the east

Sunny, Clear Conditions through Most of the Year

Consistent with Southern California’s sunny climate, Menifee enjoys plenty of sun and clear skies for much of the year. The sun shines during the daytime over 85% of the time.

Low Risk of Extreme Weather Events

The climate is free from regular extreme weather events outside of heatwaves. Thunderstorms are very infrequent. And winter cold snaps/freezes are mild compared to other inland regions.

Supporting Menifee’s Expanding Population and Development

Menifee has witnessed explosive population growth as inland Southern California has continued growing outwards. Its geography is well-suited to support further expansion.

Past and Projected Population Growth Patterns

Menifee’s population has seen incredible growth in a short period, rising from less than 20,000 in the year 2000 to over 95,000 as of 2020. Projections estimate the city could reach 140,000 inhabitants by 2040.

Availability of Undeveloped Land for Expansion

Despite rapid growth in recent decades, Menifee still has a significant amount of available vacant land that has yet to be developed, particularly on the city’s outskirts to the north and east. An estimated 60%+ of land within city limits remains open space or farmland.

Proximity to Expanding Regional Transportation Infrastructure

Ongoing expansion of the highway network near Menifee supports further growth, including recently completed Route 74 freeway and future Highway 79 freeway projects to improve regional access.

Investments in Roads, Utilities, and Civic Infrastructure

As it grows swiftly, Menifee is working aggressively to expand infrastructure and city services to meet the needs of new neighborhoods. Recent projects have focused on adding parks, widening roads, and increasing sewer/water and public safety capacity.

Conclusion: Menifee’s Inland Valley Geography Shapes Development Patterns

In conclusion, Menifee’s specific geography as an inland suburban community situated in a sheltered valley contributes heavily to its identity.

The mild climate, gently sloping hills, open land, and relative lack of natural hazards has supported rapid growth as the region’s population expands.

Moving forward, Menifee appears well-positioned geographically to continue this fast yet well-managed growth in the coming years.

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Directions

  • The first set of directions starts by taking the I-215 S highway towards San Diego. Take exit 33 for Scott Rd and turn right. Drive east on Scott Rd for 4 miles then turn left into the business park. Go to the end of the side street and turn into the parking lot on your right. Suite 110 is the second door of the brown building.
  • Another way to get there is to take I-215 S and exit on McCall Blvd. Turn left onto McCall and continue for 3.2 miles. Turn right onto Newport Rd and after 2.6 miles turn left onto Scott Rd. Drive 1 mile on Scott Rd going east then turn left into the business park. Go to the end of the side street and turn into the parking lot on your right. Suite 110 is the second door of the brown building.
  • The third option is to take Highway 79 S for 17 miles then exit onto Domenigoni Pkwy. Turn right and continue west for 5.3 miles before turning left onto Newport Rd. After 2.1 miles turn right onto Scott Rd then drive east for 1 mile. Turn left into the business park, drive to the end of the side street and turn into the parking lot on your right. Suite 110 is the second door of the brown building.