Rocky Mountains

The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than 4,800 kilometers (3,000 mi) from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico[1] in the Southwestern United States. Located within the North American Cordillera, the Rockies are somewhat distinct from the Pacific Coast Ranges, Cascade Range, and the Sierra Nevada, which all lie farther to the west.

The Rocky Mountains formed 80 million to 55 million years ago during the Laramide orogeny, in which a number of plates began sliding underneath the North American plate. The angle of subduction was shallow, resulting in a broad belt of mountains running down western North America. Since then, further tectonic activity and erosion by glaciers have sculpted the Rockies into dramatic peaks and valleys. At the end of the last ice age, humans began inhabiting the mountain range. After Europeans, such as Sir Alexander Mackenzie, and Americans, such as the Lewis and Clark expedition, began exploring the range, minerals and furs drove the initial economic exploitation of the mountains, although the range itself never experienced dense population.

Public parks and forest lands protect much of the mountain range, and they are popular tourist destinations, especially for hiking, camping, mountaineering, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, skiing, and snowboarding.

Rocky Mountains
The Rockies (en), Les montagnes Rocheuses (fr), Montañas Rocosas, Rocallosas(es)
Moraine Lake 17092005
Highest point
PeakMount Elbert (Colorado)
Elevation4,401 m (14,440 ft)
Coordinates39°07′04″N 106°26′43″W / 39.11778°N 106.44528°W
Dimensions
Length4,800 km (3,000 mi)
Geography
RockyMountainsLocatorMap
CountriesCanada and United States
States/Provinces
Range coordinates43°44′28″N 110°48′09″W / 43.741208°N 110.802414°WCoordinates: 43°44′28″N 110°48′09″W / 43.741208°N 110.802414°W
Parent rangeNorth American Cordillera
Geology
Age of rockPrecambrian and Cretaceous
Type of rockIgneous, sedimentary and metamorphic

Etymology

The name of the mountains is a translation of an Amerindian name that is closely related to Algonquian; the Cree name as-sin-wati is given as, "When seen from across the prairies, they looked like a rocky mass". The first mention of their present name by a European was in the journal of Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre in 1752, where they were called "Montagnes de Roche".[2][3]

Geography

The Rocky Mountains are often defined as stretching from the Liard River in British Columbia[4] south to the Rio Grande in New Mexico. The Rockies vary in width from 110 to 480 kilometres (70 to 300 mi). The Rocky Mountains are notable for containing the highest peaks in central North America. The range's highest peak is Mount Elbert located in Colorado at 4,401 metres (14,440 ft) above sea level. Mount Robson in British Columbia, at 3,954 metres (12,972 ft), is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.

The eastern edge of the Rockies rises dramatically above the Interior Plains of central North America, including the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico and Colorado, the Front Range of Colorado, the Wind River Range and Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, the Absaroka-Beartooth ranges and Rocky Mountain Front of Montana and the Clark Range of Alberta.

The western edge of the Rockies includes ranges such as the Wasatch near Salt Lake City and the Bitterroots along the Idaho-Montana border. The Great Basin and Columbia River Plateau separate these subranges from distinct ranges further to the west. In Canada, the western edge of the Rockies is formed by the huge Rocky Mountain Trench, which runs the length of British Columbia from its beginnings in the middle Flathead River valley in western Montana to the south bank of the Liard River.[5]

Geographers define three main groups of the Canadian Rockies: the Continental Ranges, Hart Ranges, and Muskwa Ranges. The Rockies do not extend into the Yukon or Alaska, or into central British Columbia. Other mountain ranges continue beyond the Liard River, including the Selwyn Mountains in Yukon, the Brooks Range in Alaska, but those are not part of the Rockies, though they are part of the American Cordillera.

The Continental Divide of the Americas is located in the Rocky Mountains and designates the line at which waters flow either to the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. Triple Divide Peak (2,440 metres (8,020 ft)) in Glacier National Park is so named because water falling on the mountain reaches not only the Atlantic and Pacific but Hudson Bay as well. Farther north in Alberta, the Athabasca and other rivers feed the basin of the Mackenzie River, which has its outlet on the Beaufort Sea of the Arctic Ocean.

Human population is not very dense in the Rocky Mountains, with an average of four people per square kilometer and few cities with over 50,000 people. However, the human population grew rapidly in the Rocky Mountain states between 1950 and 1990. The forty-year statewide increases in population range from 35% in Montana to about 150% in Utah and Colorado. The populations of several mountain towns and communities have doubled in the last forty years. Jackson, Wyoming, increased 260%, from 1,244 to 4,472 residents, in forty years.[6]

The Front Range of the Rocky Mountains near Denver, Colorado
The Front Range of the Rocky Mountains near Denver, Colorado

Geology

The rocks in the Rocky Mountains were formed before the mountains were raised by tectonic forces. The oldest rock is Precambrian metamorphic rock that forms the core of the North American continent. There is also Precambrian sedimentary argillite, dating back to 1.7 billion years ago. During the Paleozoic, western North America lay underneath a shallow sea, which deposited many kilometers of limestone and dolomite.[7]

In the southern Rocky Mountains, near present-day Colorado, these ancestral rocks were disturbed by mountain building approximately 300 Ma, during the Pennsylvanian. This mountain-building produced the Ancestral Rocky Mountains. They consisted largely of Precambrian metamorphic rock forced upward through layers of the limestone laid down in the shallow sea.[8] The mountains eroded throughout the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic, leaving extensive deposits of sedimentary rock.

Terranes began colliding with the western edge of North America in the Mississippian (approximately 350 million years ago), causing the Antler orogeny.[9] For 270 million years, the focus of the effects of plate collisions were near the edge of the North American plate boundary, far to the west of the Rocky Mountain region.[9] It was not until 80 Ma these effects began reaching the Rockies.[10]

The current Rocky Mountains arose in the Laramide orogeny from between 80 and 55 Ma.[10] For the Canadian Rockies, the mountain building is analogous to pushing a rug on a hardwood floor:[7] the rug bunches up and forms wrinkles (mountains). In Canada, the terranes and subduction are the foot pushing the rug, the ancestral rocks are the rug, and the Canadian Shield in the middle of the continent is the hardwood floor.[7]

Further south, an unusual subduction may have caused the growth of the Rocky Mountains in the United States, where the Farallon plate dove at a shallow angle below the North American plate. This low angle moved the focus of melting and mountain building much farther inland than the normal 300 to 500 kilometres (200 to 300 mi). Scientists hypothesize that the shallow angle of the subducting plate increased the friction and other interactions with the thick continental mass above it. Tremendous thrusts piled sheets of crust on top of each other, building the broad, high Rocky Mountain range.[11]

Roxborough
Tilted slabs of sedimentary rock in Colorado

The current southern Rockies were forced upwards through the layers of Pennsylvanian and Permian sedimentary remnants of the Ancestral Rocky Mountains.[12] Such sedimentary remnants were often tilted at steep angles along the flanks of the modern range; they are now visible in many places throughout the Rockies, and are shown along the Dakota Hogback, an early Cretaceous sandstone formation running along the eastern flank of the modern Rockies.

Just after the Laramide orogeny, the Rockies were like Tibet: a high plateau, probably 6,000 metres (20,000 ft) above sea level. In the last sixty million years, erosion stripped away the high rocks, revealing the ancestral rocks beneath, and forming the current landscape of the Rockies.[7]

Jackson Glacier terminus
Glaciers, such as Jackson Glacier in Glacier National Park, Montana, as shown here, have dramatically shaped the Rocky Mountains.

Periods of glaciation occurred from the Pleistocene Epoch (1.8 million – 70,000 years ago) to the Holocene Epoch (fewer than 11,000 years ago). These ice ages left their mark on the Rockies, forming extensive glacial landforms, such as U-shaped valleys and cirques. Recent glacial episodes included the Bull Lake Glaciation, which began about 150,000 years ago, and the Pinedale Glaciation, which perhaps remained at full glaciation until 15,000–20,000 years ago.[13]

All of these geological processes exposed a complex set of rocks at the surface. For example, volcanic rock from the Paleogene and Neogene periods (66 million – 2.6 million years ago) occurs in the San Juan Mountains and in other areas. Millennia of severe erosion in the Wyoming Basin transformed intermountain basins into a relatively flat terrain. The Tetons and other north-central ranges contain folded and faulted rocks of Paleozoic and Mesozoic age draped above cores of Proterozoic and Archean igneous and metamorphic rocks ranging in age from 1.2 billion (e.g., Tetons) to more than 3.3 billion years (Beartooth Mountains).[6]

Ecology and climate

There are a wide range of environmental factors in the Rocky Mountains. The Rockies range in latitude between the Liard River in British Columbia (at 59° N) and the Rio Grande in New Mexico (at 35° N). Prairie occurs at or below 550 metres (1,800 ft), while the highest peak in the range is Mount Elbert at 4,400 metres (14,440 ft). Precipitation ranges from 250 millimetres (10 in) per year in the southern valleys[14] to 1,500 millimetres (60 in) per year locally in the northern peaks.[15] Average January temperatures can range from −7 °C (20 °F) in Prince George, British Columbia, to 6 °C (43 °F) in Trinidad, Colorado.[16] Therefore, there is not a single monolithic ecosystem for the entire Rocky Mountain Range.

Alpine tundra Copper Mountain Colorado
Tundra in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado

Instead, ecologists divide the Rocky Mountain into a number of biotic zones. Each zone is defined by whether it can support trees and the presence of one or more indicator species. Two zones that do not support trees are the Plains and the Alpine tundra. The Great Plains lie to the east of the Rockies and is characterized by prairie grasses (below roughly 550 metres (1,800 ft)). Alpine tundra occurs in regions above the treeline for the Rocky Mountains, which varies from 3,700 metres (12,000 ft) in New Mexico to 760 metres (2,500 ft) at the northern end of the Rocky Mountains (near the Yukon).[16]

The USGS defines ten forested zones in the Rocky Mountains. Zones in more southern, warmer, or drier areas are defined by the presence of pinyon pines/junipers, ponderosa pines, or oaks mixed with pines. In more northern, colder, or wetter areas, zones are defined by Douglas firs, Cascadian species (such as western hemlock), lodgepole pines/quaking aspens, or firs mixed with spruce. Near treeline, zones can consist of white pines (such as whitebark pine or bristlecone pine); or a mixture of white pine, fir, and spruce that appear as shrub-like krummholz. Finally, rivers and canyons can create a unique forest zone in more arid parts of the mountain range.[6]

Bighorn lamb Alberta
Bighorn sheep (such as this lamb in Alberta) have declined dramatically since European-American settlement of the Rocky Mountains.

The Rocky Mountains are an important habitat for a great deal of well-known wildlife, such as elk, moose, mule and white-tailed deer, pronghorn, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, badgers, black bears, grizzly bears, coyotes, lynxes, and wolverines.[6][17] For example, North America's largest herds of moose is in the Alberta-British Columbia foothills forests.

The status of most species in the Rocky Mountains is unknown, due to incomplete information. European-American settlement of the mountains has adversely impacted native species. Examples of some species that have declined include western toads, greenback cutthroat trout, white sturgeon, white-tailed ptarmigan, trumpeter swan, and bighorn sheep. In the United States portion of the mountain range, apex predators such as grizzly bears and gray wolves had been extirpated from their original ranges, but have partially recovered due to conservation measures and reintroduction. Other recovering species include the bald eagle and the peregrine falcon.[6]

History

Indigenous people

Since the last great ice age, the Rocky Mountains were home first to indigenous peoples including the Apache, Arapaho, Bannock, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Coeur d'Alene, Kalispel, Crow Nation, Flathead, Shoshone, Sioux, Ute, Kutenai (Ktunaxa in Canada), Sekani, Dunne-za, and others. Paleo-Indians hunted the now-extinct mammoth and ancient bison (an animal 20% larger than modern bison) in the foothills and valleys of the mountains. Like the modern tribes that followed them, Paleo-Indians probably migrated to the plains in fall and winter for bison and to the mountains in spring and summer for fish, deer, elk, roots, and berries. In Colorado, along with the crest of the Continental Divide, rock walls that Native Americans built for driving game date back 5,400–5,800 years. A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that indigenous people had significant effects on mammal populations by hunting and on vegetation patterns through deliberate burning.[6]

European exploration

Recent human history of the Rocky Mountains is one of more rapid change. The Spanish explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado—with a group of soldiers, missionaries, and African slaves—marched into the Rocky Mountain region from the south in 1540.[18] The introduction of the horse, metal tools, rifles, new diseases, and different cultures profoundly changed the Native American cultures. Native American populations were extirpated from most of their historical ranges by disease, warfare, habitat loss (eradication of the bison), and continued assaults on their culture.[6]

In 1739, French fur traders Pierre and Paul Mallet, while journeying through the Great Plains, discovered a range of mountains at the headwaters of the Platte River, which local American Indian tribes called the "Rockies", becoming the first Europeans to report on this uncharted mountain range.[19]

Alexander MacKenzie by Thomas Lawrence (c.1800)
Sir Alexander MacKenzie in 1800

Sir Alexander MacKenzie (1764 – March 11, 1820) became the first European to cross the Rocky Mountains in 1793.[20] He found the upper reaches of the Fraser River and reached the Pacific coast of what is now Canada on July 20 of that year, completing the first recorded transcontinental crossing of North America north of Mexico.[21] He arrived at Bella Coola, British Columbia, where he first reached saltwater at South Bentinck Arm, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806) was the first scientific reconnaissance of the Rocky Mountains.[22] Specimens were collected for contemporary botanists, zoologists, and geologists. The expedition was said to have paved the way to (and through) the Rocky Mountains for European-Americans from the East, although Lewis and Clark met at least 11 European-American mountain men during their travels.[6]

Mountain men, primarily French, Spanish, and British, roamed the Rocky Mountains from 1720 to 1800 seeking mineral deposits and furs. The fur-trading North West Company established Rocky Mountain House as a trading post in what is now the Rocky Mountain Foothills of present-day Alberta in 1799, and their business rivals the Hudson's Bay Company established Acton House nearby.[23] These posts served as bases for most European activity in the Canadian Rockies in the early 19th century. Among the most notable are the expeditions of David Thompson (explorer), who followed the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean.[24] On his 1811 expedition, he camped at the junction of the Columbia River and the Snake River and erected a pole and notice claiming the area for the United Kingdom and stating the intention of the North West Company to build a fort at the site.[25]

By the Anglo-American Convention of 1818, which established the 49th parallel north as the international boundary west from Lake of the Woods to the "Stony Mountains";[26] the UK and the USA agreed to what has since been described as "joint occupancy" of lands further west to the Pacific Ocean. Resolution of the territorial and treaty issues, the Oregon dispute, was deferred until a later time.

In 1819, Spain ceded their rights north of the 42nd Parallel to the United States, though these rights did not include possession and also included obligations to Britain and Russia concerning their claims in the same region.

Settlement

After 1802, American fur traders and explorers ushered in the first widespread Caucasian presence in the Rockies south of the 49th parallel. The more famous of these include Americans William Henry Ashley, Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, John Colter, Thomas Fitzpatrick, Andrew Henry, and Jedediah Smith. On July 24, 1832, Benjamin Bonneville led the first wagon train across the Rocky Mountains by using South Pass in the present State of Wyoming.[6] Similarly, in the wake of Mackenzie's 1793 expedition, fur trading posts were established west of the Northern Rockies in a region of the northern Interior Plateau of British Columbia which came to be known as New Caledonia, beginning with Fort McLeod (today's community of McLeod Lake) and Fort Fraser, but ultimately focused on Stuart Lake Post (today's Fort St. James).

Negotiations between the United Kingdom and the United States over the next few decades failed to settle upon a compromise boundary and the Oregon Dispute became important in geopolitical diplomacy between the British Empire and the new American Republic. In 1841, James Sinclair, Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company, guided some 200 settlers from the Red River Colony west to bolster settlement around Fort Vancouver in an attempt to retain the Columbia District for Britain. The party crossed the Rockies into the Columbia Valley, a region of the Rocky Mountain Trench near present-day Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, then traveled south. Despite such efforts, in 1846, Britain ceded all claim to Columbia District lands south of the 49th parallel to the United States; as resolution to the Oregon boundary dispute by the Oregon Treaty.[27]

Cherokee Pass2
Cherokee Trail near Fort Collins, Colorado, from a sketch taken 7 June 1859

Thousands passed through the Rocky Mountains on the Oregon Trail beginning in the 1840s.[28] The Mormons began settling near the Great Salt Lake in 1847.[29] From 1859 to 1864, gold was discovered in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia, sparking several gold rushes bringing thousands of prospectors and miners to explore every mountain and canyon and to create the Rocky Mountains' first major industry. The Idaho gold rush alone produced more gold than the California and Alaska gold rushes combined and was important in the financing of the Union Army during the American Civil War. The transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869,[30] and Yellowstone National Park was established as the world's first national park in 1872.[31] Meanwhile, a transcontinental railroad in Canada was originally promised in 1871. Though political complications pushed its completion to 1885, the Canadian Pacific Railway eventually followed the Kicking Horse and Rogers Passes to the Pacific Ocean.[32] Canadian railway officials also convinced Parliament to set aside vast areas of the Canadian Rockies as Jasper, Banff, Yoho, and Waterton Lakes National Parks, laying the foundation for a tourism industry which thrives to this day. Glacier National Park (MT) was established with a similar relationship to tourism promotions by the Great Northern Railway.[33] While settlers filled the valleys and mining towns, conservation and preservation ethics began to take hold. U.S. President Harrison established several forest reserves in the Rocky Mountains in 1891–1892. In 1905, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt extended the Medicine Bow Forest Reserve to include the area now managed as Rocky Mountain National Park. Economic development began to center on mining, forestry, agriculture, and recreation, as well as on the service industries that support them. Tents and camps became ranches and farms, forts and train stations became towns, and some towns became cities.[6]

Economy

Industry and development

Economic resources of the Rocky Mountains are varied and abundant. Minerals found in the Rocky Mountains include significant deposits of copper, gold, lead, molybdenum, silver, tungsten, and zinc. The Wyoming Basin and several smaller areas contain significant reserves of coal, natural gas, oil shale, and petroleum. For example, the Climax mine, located near Leadville, Colorado, was the largest producer of molybdenum in the world. Molybdenum is used in heat-resistant steel in such things as cars and planes. The Climax mine employed over 3,000 workers. The Coeur d'Alene mine of northern Idaho produces silver, lead, and zinc. Canada's largest coal mines are near Fernie, British Columbia and Sparwood, British Columbia; additional coal mines exist near Hinton, Alberta, and in the Northern Rockies surrounding Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia.[6]

Abandoned mines with their wakes of mine tailings and toxic wastes dot the Rocky Mountain landscape. In one major example, eighty years of zinc mining profoundly polluted the river and bank near Eagle River in north-central Colorado. High concentrations of the metal carried by spring runoff harmed algae, moss, and trout populations. An economic analysis of mining effects at this site revealed declining property values, degraded water quality, and the loss of recreational opportunities. The analysis also revealed that cleanup of the river could yield $2.3 million in additional revenue from recreation. In 1983, the former owner of the zinc mine was sued by the Colorado Attorney General for the $4.8 million cleanup costs; five years later, ecological recovery was considerable.[34]

The Rocky Mountains contain several sedimentary basins that are rich in coalbed methane. Coalbed methane is natural gas that arises from coal, either through bacterial action or through exposure to high temperature. Coalbed methane supplies 7 percent of the natural gas used in the United States. The largest coalbed methane sources in the Rocky Mountains are in the San Juan Basin in New Mexico and Colorado and the Powder River Basin in Wyoming. These two basins are estimated to contain 38 trillion cubic feet of gas. Coalbed methane can be recovered by dewatering the coal bed, and separating the gas from the water; or injecting water to fracture the coal to release the gas (so-called hydraulic fracturing).[35]

Agriculture and forestry are major industries. Agriculture includes dryland and irrigated farming and livestock grazing. Livestock are frequently moved between high-elevation summer pastures and low-elevation winter pastures, a practice known as transhumance.[6]

Tourism

Every year the scenic areas and pollution of the Rocky Mountains draw millions of tourists.[6] The main language of the Rocky Mountains is English. But there are also linguistic pockets of Spanish and indigenous languages.

People from all over the world visit the sites to hike, camp, or engage in mountain sports.[36] In the summer season, examples of tourist attractions are:

In the United States:

In Canada, the mountain range contains these national parks:

Glacier National Park in Montana and Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta border each other and are collectively known as Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

In the winter, skiing is the main attraction, with dozens of Rocky Mountain ski areas and resorts.

The adjacent Columbia Mountains in British Columbia contain major resorts such as Panorama and Kicking Horse, as well as Mount Revelstoke National Park and Glacier National Park.

There are numerous provincial parks in the British Columbia Rockies, the largest and most notable being Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, Mount Robson Provincial Park, Northern Rocky Mountains Provincial Park, Kwadacha Wilderness Provincial Park, Stone Mountain Provincial Park and Muncho Lake Provincial Park.

See also

References

  1. ^ Marston, Richard A.; Eardley, Armand J. "Rocky Mountains". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  2. ^ Akrigg, G.P.V.; Akrigg, Helen B. (1997). British Columbia Place Names (3rd ed.). Vancouver, BC: UBC Press. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-7748-0636-7. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  3. ^ Mardon, Ernest G.; Mardon, Austin A. (2010). Community Place Names of Alberta (3rd ed.). Edmonton, AB: Golden Meteorite Press. p. 283. ISBN 978-1-897472-17-0. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  4. ^ Gadd, Ben (1986). Handbook of the Canadian Rockies. Corax Press. p. 1.
  5. ^ Cannings, Richard (2007). The Rockies: A Natural History. Greystone/David Suzuki Foundation. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-55365-285-4.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document: T.J. Stohlgren. "Rocky Mountains".
  7. ^ a b c d Gadd, Ben (2008). "Geology of the Rocky Mountains and Columbias" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-20. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  8. ^ Chronic, Halka (1980). Roadside Geology of Colorado. ISBN 978-0-87842-105-3.
  9. ^ a b Blakely, Ron. "Geologic History of Western US". Archived from the original on 2010-06-22.
  10. ^ a b English, Joseph M.; Johnston, Stephen T. (2004). "The Laramide Orogeny: What Were the Driving Forces?" (PDF). International Geology Review. 46 (9): 833 838. Bibcode:2004IGRv...46..833E. doi:10.2747/0020-6814.46.9.833. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-06-07.
  11. ^  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document: "Geologic Provinces of the United States: Rocky Mountains". Retrieved 2006-12-10.
  12. ^ Lindsey, D.A. (2010). "The geologic story of Colorado's Sangre de Cristo Range" (PDF). U.S. Geological Survey. Circular 1349. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-05-02.
  13. ^ Pierce, K.L. (1979). History and dynamics of glaciation in the northern Yellowstone National Park area. Washington, DC: U.S. Geological Survey. pp. 1 90. Professional Paper 729-F.
  14. ^ "Southern Rocky Mountains". Forest Encyclopedia Network. Archived from the original on 2012-07-07. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  15. ^ "Northern Rocky Mountains". Forest Encyclopedia Network. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  16. ^ a b Sheridan, Scott. "US & Canada: Rocky Mountains (Chapter 14)" (PDF). Geography of the United States and Canada course notes. Kent State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-01.
  17. ^ "Rocky Mountains | mountains, North America". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 2017-08-12. Retrieved 2017-08-12.
  18. ^ "Events in the West (1528–1536)". 2001. Archived from the original on 10 April 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  19. ^ "The West: Events from 1650 to 1800". PBS. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06.
  20. ^ "Mackenzie: 1789, 1792–1797". Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  21. ^ "First Crossing of North America National Historic Site of Canada". Archived from the original on 12 May 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  22. ^ "Lewis and Clark Expedition: Scientific Encounters". Archived from the original on 9 April 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  23. ^ "Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site of Canada". 28 Feb 2012. Archived from the original on 13 May 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  24. ^ "Guide to the David Thompson Papers 1806–1845". 2006. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  25. ^ Oldham, kit (23 Jan 2003). "David Thompson plants the British flag at the confluence of the Columbia and Snake rivers on July 9, 1811". Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  26. ^ "Treaties in Force" (PDF). 1 November 2007. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 May 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  27. ^ "Historical Context and American Policy". Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  28. ^ "Oregon Trail Interpretive Center". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  29. ^ "The Mormon Trail". Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  30. ^ "The Transcontinental Railroad". 2012. Archived from the original on 12 April 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  31. ^ "Yellowstone National Park". 4 April 2012. Archived from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  32. ^ "Canadian Pacific Railway". Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  33. ^ "Glaciers and Glacier National Park". 2011. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  34. ^ Brandt, E. (1993). "How much is a gray wolf worth?". National Wildlife. 31: 412.
  35. ^ "Coal-Bed Gas Resources of the Rocky Mountain Region". USGS. USGS fact sheet 158-02. Archived from the original on 2012-06-28.
  36. ^ "Rocky Mountain National Park". National Park Foundation. Archived from the original on 2017-10-04. Retrieved 2017-08-12.

Further reading

External links

Abies lasiocarpa

Abies lasiocarpa, commonly called the subalpine fir or Rocky Mountain fir, is a western North American fir tree.

Alberta-British Columbia foothills forests

The Alberta-British Columbia foothills forests are a temperate coniferous forests ecoregion of Canada. This ecoregion borders Canada's taiga and contains a mix of subarctic forest and temperate forest species as a result. This makes the region an ecotone region, or a region that acts as a buffer between two other biomes.

Alberta Mountain forests

The Alberta Mountain forests are a temperate coniferous forests ecoregion of Canada.

Banff National Park

Banff National Park (French: Parc national Banff) is Canada's oldest national park and was established in 1885. Located in the Rocky Mountains, 110–180 kilometres (68–112 mi) west of Calgary in the province of Alberta, Banff encompasses 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 sq mi) of mountainous terrain, with numerous glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine landscapes. The Icefields Parkway extends from Lake Louise, connecting to Jasper National Park in the north. Provincial forests and Yoho National Park are neighbours to the west, while Kootenay National Park is located to the south and Kananaskis Country to the southeast. The main commercial centre of the park is the town of Banff, in the Bow River valley.

The Canadian Pacific Railway was instrumental in Banff's early years, building the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise, and attracting tourists through extensive advertising. In the early 20th century, roads were built in Banff, at times by war internees from World War I, and through Great Depression-era public works projects. Since the 1960s, park accommodations have been open all year, with annual tourism visits to Banff increasing to over 5 million in the 1990s. Millions more pass through the park on the Trans-Canada Highway. As Banff has over three million visitors annually, the health of its ecosystem has been threatened. In the mid-1990s, Parks Canada responded by initiating a two-year study, which resulted in management recommendations, and new policies that aim to preserve ecological integrity.

Banff National Park has a subarctic climate with three ecoregions, including montane, subalpine, and alpine. The forests are dominated by Lodgepole pine at lower elevations and Engelmann spruce in higher ones below the treeline, above which is primarily rocks and ice. Mammal species such as the grizzly bear, cougar, wolverine, elk, bighorn sheep and moose are found, along with hundreds of bird species. Reptiles and amphibians are also found but only a limited number of species have been recorded. The mountains are formed from sedimentary rocks which were pushed east over newer rock strata, between 80 and 55 million years ago. Over the past few million years, glaciers have at times covered most of the park, but today are found only on the mountain slopes though they include the Columbia Icefield, the largest uninterrupted glacial mass in the Rockies. Erosion from water and ice have carved the mountains into their current shapes.

Canadian Rockies

The Canadian Rockies (French: Rocheuses canadiennes) or Canadian Rocky Mountains comprise the Canadian segment of the North American Rocky Mountains. They are the eastern part of the Canadian Cordillera, which is a system of multiple ranges of mountains which runs from the Canadian Prairies to the Pacific Coast. The Canadian Rockies mountain system comprises the southeastern part of this system, lying between the Interior Plains of Alberta and Northeastern British Columbia on the east to the Rocky Mountain Trench of BC on the west. The southern end borders Idaho and Montana of the United States. In geographic terms the boundary is at the Canada/US border, but in geological terms it might be considered to be at Marias Pass in northern Montana. The northern end is at the Liard River in northern British Columbia.

The Canadian Rockies have numerous high peaks and ranges, such as Mount Robson (3,954 m, 12,972 ft) and Mount Columbia (3,747 m, 12,293 ft). The Canadian Rockies are composed of shale and limestone. Much of the range is protected by national and provincial parks, several of which collectively comprise a World Heritage Site.

Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site

The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site is located in the Canadian Rockies. It consists of seven contiguous parks including four national parks:

Banff

Jasper

Kootenay

Yohoand three British Columbia provincial parks:

Hamber Provincial Park

Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park

Mount Robson Provincial ParkThe parks include mountains, glaciers, and hot springs and the headwaters of major North American river systems including:

North Saskatchewan River

Athabasca River

Columbia River

Fraser RiverThe area is known for its natural environment and biological diversity. It includes the Burgess Shale site, a World Heritage Site in its own right from 1980 to 1984, when it was included in the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks WHS designation.

Geology of the Rocky Mountains

The geology of the Rocky Mountains is that of a discontinuous series of mountain ranges with distinct geological origins. Collectively these make up the Rocky Mountains, a mountain system that stretches from Northern British Columbia through central New Mexico and which is part of the great mountain system known as the North American Cordillera.

The rocky cores of the mountain ranges are, in most places, formed of pieces of continental crust that are over one billion years old. In the south, an older mountain range was formed 300 million years ago, then eroded away. The rocks of that older range were reformed into the Rocky Mountains.

The Rocky Mountains took shape during an intense period of plate tectonic activity that resulted in much of the rugged landscape of the western North America. The Laramide orogeny, about 80–55 million years ago, was the last of the three episodes and was responsible for raising the Rocky Mountains. Subsequent erosion by glaciers has created the current form of the mountains.

HD Mountains

The HD Mountains are located in southwest Colorado. They are part of the San Juan Mountain range, which are part of the Rocky Mountains.

High Rockies

The High Rockies, or high country, is a term for a region of the U.S. state of Colorado. It commonly includes Larimer County, Jackson County, Routt County, Grand County, Summit County, Eagle County, Lake County, and Pitkin County. Some notable towns there include Estes Park, Walden, Steamboat Springs, Grand Lake, Winter Park, Breckenridge, Dillon, Vail, Leadville, and Aspen. The geography of the High Rockies has some of the most rugged parts of the Rocky Mountains and consists of the Front Range and mountainous topography to the west, much of which is on or near the Continental Divide. Known for pine forests and winding roads, the former mining towns there have been reinvented by wilderness tourism such as hiking, cycling, fishing, and most especially both cross-country and alpine skiing. Notable ski resorts include Copper Mountain, Keystone Resort, Steamboat Ski Resort, Beaver Creek Resort, Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Aspen Mountain. The High Rockies are also the location of Rocky Mountain National Park and Arapaho National Forest.

Interior Plains

The Interior Plains is a vast physiographic region that spreads across the Laurentian craton of central North America. The region extends from the Gulf Coast region to the Arctic Ocean along the east flank of the Rocky Mountains. In Canada the region separates the Rocky Mountains from the Canadian Shield. In the United States the plains include the Great Plains of the west and the Tallgrass prairie region to the south of the Great Lakes extending east to the Appalachian Plateau region.

Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, spanning 11,000 km2 (4,200 sq mi). It is located in the province of Alberta, north of Banff National Park and west of Edmonton. The park includes the glaciers of the Columbia Icefield, hot springs, lakes, waterfalls and mountains.

List of rivers of the Canadian Rockies

This is a list of rivers within or originating in, or in one case transiting, the Canadian Rockies.

Mummy Range

The Mummy Range (elevation approximately 13,000 ft) is a mountain range in the Rocky Mountains of northern Colorado in the United States. The range is a short subrange of the Front Range located in southwestern Larimer County northwest of the town of Estes Park. It is located largely within Rocky Mountain National Park, extending north from Trail Ridge Road approximately 15 miles (24 km).

Prominent peaks in the range include Hagues Peak, Ypsilon Mountain, Mummy Mountain, and Mount Chiquita. These peaks are easily accessible via the Lawn Lake trail leading to "the Saddle" between Hagues Peak and Fairchild Mountain and, on the southwestern end, the Chapin Pass trail from the Fall River road. Some offer reasonably challenging technical routes but all can be ascended by steep hiking and mild scrambling after snow melt.

North Central Rockies forest

The North Central Rockies forests is a temperate coniferous forest ecoregion of Canada and the United States. This region gets more rain on average than the South Central Rockies forests and is notable for containing the only inland populations of many species from the Pacific coast.

Northern Rocky Mountains

The Northern Rocky Mountains, usually referred to as the Northern Rockies, are a subdivision of the Canadian Rockies comprising the northern half of the Canadian segment of the Rocky Mountains. While their northward limit is easily defined as the Liard River, which is the northward terminus of the whole Rockies, the southward limit is debatable, although the area of Mount Ovington and Monkman Pass is mentioned in some sources, as south from there are the Continental Ranges, which are the main spine of the Rockies forming the boundary between British Columbia and Alberta. Some use the term to mean only the area north of Lake Williston (the Peace River), and in reference to Northern Rocky Mountains Provincial Park, while others consider the term to extend all the way south, beyond the limit of the Hart Ranges at Mount Ovington, to McBride and Mount Robson.The area south of Lake Williston - the Hart Ranges - is much more accessible and better-known, while north of Lake Wililston the Northern Rockies are extremely remote and rarely visited or photographed. The Hart Ranges are traversed by BC Highway 97 (the John Hart Highway) and the Peace River extension of the former BC Rail line (now part of Canadian National Railways), which use the Pine Pass, and also by the Tumbler Ridge spur line to the Sukunka River coalmines. The Alaska Highway traverses the northernmost part of the range via Stone Mountain and Muncho Lake Provincial Parks.

Northern Rocky Mountains Provincial Park

Northern Rocky Mountains Provincial Park is a provincial park in British Columbia, Canada. It is located in the north-eastern part of the province, 90 km south-west from Fort Nelson and it is bordered to the north by the Alaska Highway. Access is mostly done by boat, aircraft, on horseback or by hiking.

At 6,657.1 km2, it is the largest protected area in the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area and the third largest provincial park in British Columbia. The park borders Stone Mountain Provincial Park to the north-west and Kwadacha Wilderness Provincial Park to the south-west, creating a large contiguous protected area in the Muskwa Ranges of the Canadian Rockies.

Rainbow Range (Rocky Mountains)

The Rainbow Range is a small subrange of the Park Ranges subdivisions of the Northern Continental Ranges of the Rocky Mountains on the border between Alberta and British Columbia in Mount Robson Provincial Park.

Its highest summit, and the highest in the Canadian Rockies, is Mount Robson 3959 m (12989 ft), followed by nearby Resplendent Mountain 3425 m (11241 ft) and Mount Kain 2863 m (9393 ft).

Tower of London Range

The Tower of London Range is a sub-range of the Northern Rocky Mountains in northern British Columbia, Canada, located northwest of the Tuchodi Lakes at the northwest end of the Northern Rocky Mountains Provincial Park to the southwest of Fort Nelson.

Western United States

The Western United States (also called the American West, the Far West, and the West) is the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. As European settlement in the U.S. expanded westward through the centuries, the meaning of the term the West changed. Before about 1800, the crest of the Appalachian Mountains was seen as the western frontier. The frontier moved westward and eventually the lands west of the Mississippi River were considered the West.The U.S. Census Bureau's definition of the 13 westernmost states includes the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin to the West Coast, and the outlying states, Alaska and Hawaii.

The West contains several major biomes, including arid and semi-arid plateaus and plains, particularly in the American Southwest; forested mountains, including two major ranges, the American Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains; the massive coastal shoreline of the American Pacific Coast; and the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest.

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