The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range located in western North America.
The Rocky Mountains stretch 3,000 km in straight-line distance from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico in the Southwestern United States.
Located within the North American Cordillera, the Rockies are distinct from the Pacific Coast Ranges, Cascade Range, and the Sierra Nevada, which all lie farther to the west.
“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 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".
Since the last great ice age, the Rocky Mountains were home first to indigenous peoples including the Apache, Arapaho, Bannock, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, 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.
The Rocky Mountains include at least 100 separate ranges, which are generally divided into four broad groupings: the Canadian Rockies and Northern Rockies of Montana and northeastern Idaho; the Middle Rockies of Wyoming, Utah, and southeastern Idaho; the Southern Rockies, mainly in Colorado and New Mexico; and the Colorado Plateau in the Four Corners region of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.
The Canadian Rockies are the easternmost part of the Canadian Cordillera, the collective name for the mountains of Western Canada. They form part of the American Cordillera, an essentially continuous sequence of mountain ranges that runs all the way from Alaska to the very tip of South America.
The Cordillera, in turn, is the eastern part of the Pacific Ring of Fire that runs all the way around the Pacific Ocean.
The Canadian Rockies are bounded on the east by the Canadian Prairies, on the west by the Rocky Mountain Trench, and on the north by the Liard River.
North of the Liard River, the Mackenzie Mountains, which are a distinct mountain range, form a portion of the border between the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
The mountain ranges to the west of the Rocky Mountain Trench in southern British Columbia are called the Columbia Mountains, and are not considered to be part of the Rockies by Canadian geologists.
Five national parks are located within the Canadian Rockies, four of which are adjacent and make up the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks. These four parks are Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho. The fifth national park, Waterton is not adjacent to the others. Waterton lies farther south, straddling the Canada–US border as the Canadian half of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. All five of these parks, combined with three British Columbia provincial parks, were declared a single UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 for the unique mountain landscapes found there.
Numerous provincial parks are located in the Canadian Rockies, including Hamber, Mount Assiniboine and Mount Robson parks.
Throughout the Rockies, and especially in the national parks, the Alpine Club of Canada maintains a series of alpine huts for use by mountaineers and adventurers.
In 1901, the Canadian Pacific Railway built Lake Agnes Tea House as a hiker’s refuge, perched at 7,000 feet in a hanging valley above Lake Louise. Since 1905, hikers and horseback riders have been able to enjoy pots of loose-leaf tea and freshly baked banana bread while taking in stunning views of Lake Agnes. With no roads serving this mountaintop spot, staff members hike in and out with supplies and trash on their backs. Once a year, a helicopter drops off some 10,000 pounds of flour, sugar, propane, and other dry goods—a feat that takes 20 to 30 trips over the course of one busy day.
The Canadian Rockies experience a highland climate, characterized by warm summer days with long hours of sunshine, and cold, crisp winters when snow covers the ground from November to March.
The Rocky Mountains are an important habitat for a great deal of wildlife, such as elk, moose, mule and white-tailed deer, pronghorn, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, badgers, black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, coyotes, lynx, and wolverines along with a great variety of small mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians and over 300 species of birds.
Most of the mountain range now is protected by National Park status. This is to stop the area being damaged and built on. Most of the parks are popular with tourists for hiking, cycling and fishing in the summer and skiing and winter sports in the winter.
Stunning nature, breathtaking views, miscellaneous wildlife and above all a rich history. Your next adventure has to be in the Rockies.