The Rocky Mountains, or the Rockies, are a picturesque mountain range found in western North America. The range is made up of over 1,000 smaller ranges. Generally, the ranges stretch from British Columbia and northern Alberta all the way to New Mexico in the south. The mountain range covers 3,000 miles or 4,800 km and passes through the following states and provinces:
- Alberta (CA)
- British Columbia (CA)
- Colorado (US)
- Idaho (US)
- Montana (US)
- New Mexico (US)
- Utah (US)
- Wyoming (US)
The Great Plains and Interior Plateau border the ranges to the east and west respectively. Furthermore, towards the United States side, the ranges are bordered by Columbia Plateau, Canadian Coast Mountains and Basin, and the Range Province. Today, the mountains are protected by national parks and forest land including:
- Yellowstone National Park
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Grand Teton National Park
- Glacier National Park
- Banff National Park
- Jasper National Park
- Kootenay National Park
- Waterton Lakes National Park
- Yoho National Park
- Sawtooth National Recreation Area
- Flathead Lake
Mt. Elbert in Colorado is the tallest of the mountain ranges at 14,443 feet high. The second most visited peak in the world, the Pikes Peak, is 14,110 feet high.
Due to the vast area of coverage, Rocky Mountains wildlife varies from location to location. Some of the animals include coyotes, black bears, marmots, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions. Banff National Park in Canada is dominated by grizzly and black bears, bighorn sheep, and golden-mantled ground squirrels among other species.
A series of over 100 individual mountain ranges make up the Rocky Mountains range. These diverse ranges can be organized into four distinct areas:
The Canadian Rockies
- Encompasses the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia
- Includes the national parks of Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Yoho
- The tallest point is Mount Robson (12,972 feet) and the second-highest is Mount Columbia (12,293 feet)
The Middle Rockies
- Usually defined as the ranges in Wyoming and Idaho
- Characterized by high mountain peaks with glacial tops
The Southern Rockies
- Found in Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah
- Includes the highest point of the rocky mountains, Mount Elbert (14,440 feet) as well as the top 30 highest peaks
The southern tip of the range sits in New Mexico while the northern boundary is marked by Liard River in Canada. To the east, 1-25 serve as the range’s US boundary. The Rocky Mountain Trench marks the range’s western edge in Canada. The mountain range’s western edge is not clearly defined in the United States as the mountain merges gradually into the Great Basin Desert.
Multiple National Parks
Due to its vast expanse, the Rockies is home to many national parks. Towards the Canadian side are Kootenay, Banff, Yoho, and Jasper National Parks. The provincial parks such as Mount Assiniboine, Mount Robson, and Hamber protect the Rocky Mountain wildlife. In the United States, Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, the Royal Gorge Park, and Glacier National Park protect the landscape of the Rockies.
Where are the Rocky Mountains?
The Rocky Mountains are found in the western regions of Canada and the United States.
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