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Rocky Mountains

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The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range and the largest mountain system in North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch 3,000 mi (4,800 km) in straight-line distance from the northernmost part of western Canada, to New Mexico in the southwestern United States. Depending on differing definitions between Canada and the United States, its northern terminus is located either in northern British Columbia's Terminal Range south of the Liard River and east of the Trench, or in the northeastern foothills of the Brooks Range/British Mountains that face the Beaufort Sea coasts between the Canning River and the Firth River across the Alaska-Yukon border. Its southernmost point is near the Albuquerque area adjacent to the Rio Grande Basin and north of the Sandia–Manzano Mountain Range. Being the easternmost portion of the North American Cordillera, the Rockies are distinct from the tectonically younger Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada, which both lie farther to its 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 explorations of the range by Europeans, such as Sir Alexander Mackenzie, and Anglo-Americans, such as the Lewis and Clark expedition, natural resources such as minerals and fur drove the initial economic exploitation of the mountains, although the range itself never experienced a dense population.

Of the 100 highest major peaks of the Rocky Mountains, 78 (including the 30 highest) are located in Colorado, ten in Wyoming, six in New Mexico, three in Montana, and one each in Utah, British Columbia, and Idaho. Of the 50 most prominent summits of the Rocky Mountains, 12 are located in British Columbia, 12 in Montana, ten in Alberta, eight in Colorado, four in Wyoming, three in Utah, three in Idaho, and one in New Mexico. 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, snowmobiling, skiing, and snowboarding.

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 to 1,500 millimetres (60 in) per year locally in the northern peaks. Average January temperatures can range from −7 °C (20 °F) in Prince George, British Columbia, to 6 °C (43 °F) in Trinidad, Colorado. Therefore, there is not a single monolithic ecosystem for the entire Rocky Mountain Range.

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).

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.

The Rocky Mountains are an important habitat for a great deal of well-known wildlife, such as wolves, elk, moose, mule and white-tailed deer, pronghorn, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, badgers, black bears, grizzly bears, coyotes, lynxes, cougars, and wolverines. For example, North America's largest herds of moose are 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 wolf packs 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.

This is a part of the Wikipedia article used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). The full text of the article is here → https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Mountains 
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The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range and the largest mountain system in North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch 3,000 mi (4,800 km) in straight-line distance from the northernmost part of western Canada, to New Mexico in the southwestern United States. Depending on differing definitions between Canada and the United States, its northern terminus is located either in northern British Columbia's Terminal Range south of the Liard River and east of the Trench, or in the northeastern foothills of the Brooks Range/British Mountains that face the Beaufort Sea coasts between the Canning River and the Firth River across the Alaska-Yukon border. Its southernmost point is near the Albuquerque area adjacent to the Rio Grande Basin and north of the Sandia–Manzano Mountain Range. Being the easternmost portion of the North American Cordillera, the Rockies are distinct from the tectonically younger Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada, which both lie farther to its 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 explorations of the range by Europeans, such as Sir Alexander Mackenzie, and Anglo-Americans, such as the Lewis and Clark expedition, natural resources such as minerals and fur drove the initial economic exploitation of the mountains, although the range itself never experienced a dense population.

Of the 100 highest major peaks of the Rocky Mountains, 78 (including the 30 highest) are located in Colorado, ten in Wyoming, six in New Mexico, three in Montana, and one each in Utah, British Columbia, and Idaho. Of the 50 most prominent summits of the Rocky Mountains, 12 are located in British Columbia, 12 in Montana, ten in Alberta, eight in Colorado, four in Wyoming, three in Utah, three in Idaho, and one in New Mexico. 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, snowmobiling, skiing, and snowboarding.

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 to 1,500 millimetres (60 in) per year locally in the northern peaks. Average January temperatures can range from −7 °C (20 °F) in Prince George, British Columbia, to 6 °C (43 °F) in Trinidad, Colorado. Therefore, there is not a single monolithic ecosystem for the entire Rocky Mountain Range.

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).

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.

The Rocky Mountains are an important habitat for a great deal of well-known wildlife, such as wolves, elk, moose, mule and white-tailed deer, pronghorn, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, badgers, black bears, grizzly bears, coyotes, lynxes, cougars, and wolverines. For example, North America's largest herds of moose are 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 wolf packs 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.

This is a part of the Wikipedia article used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). The full text of the article is here → https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Mountains 
More articles on Rocky Mountains →
show less
Source