The Snowy Mountains, known informally as "The Snowies", is an IBRA subregion in southern New South Wales, Australia, and is the tallest mountain range in mainland Australia, being part of the continent's Great Dividing Range cordillera system. It makes up the northeastern half of the Australian Alps (the other half being the Victorian Alps) and contains Australia's five tallest peaks, all of which are above 2,100 m (6,890 ft), including the tallest Mount Kosciuszko, which reaches to a height of 2,228 m (7,310 ft) above sea level. The offshore Tasmanian highlands makes up the only other major alpine region present in the whole of Australia.
The Snowy Mountains experiences large natural snowfalls every winter, normally during June, July, August and early September, with the snow cover melting by late spring. It is considered to be one of the centers of the Australian ski industry during the winter months, with all four snow resorts in New South Wales being located in the region. The range is host to the mountain plum-pine, a low-lying type of conifer.
The Alpine Way and Snowy Mountains Highway are the major roads through the Snowy Mountains region.
The Snowy Mountains cover a variety of climatic regions which support several distinct ecosystems. The alpine area above the tree line is one of the most fragile and covers the smallest area. This area is a patchwork of alpine heaths, herbfields, feldmarks, bogs and fens. The windswept feldmark ecotope is endemic to the alpine region, and covers a mere 300,000 square metres (3,200,000 sq ft).
Many rare or threatened plant and animal species live within the Snowy Mountains. The Kosciuszko National Park is home to one of Australia's most threatened species (the corroboree frog), the endangered mountain pygmy possum and the more common dusky antechinus are located in the high country of the park.
By 2008, wild horse numbers in the National Park had reached 1,700 with that figure growing by up to 300 each year, resulting in park authorities coordinating their culling and relocation.
The high country is dominated by alpine woodlands, characterised by the snow gum. Montane and wet sclerophyll forests also occur across the ranges, supporting large stands of alpine ash and mountain gum. In the southern Byadbo wilderness area, dry sclerophyll and wattle forests predominate. Amongst the many different native trees in the park, the large Chinese elm has become naturalised.