Rocky Mountains - Wikipedia. Rocky Mountainsthe Rockies (en), les Rocheuses (fr),Monta. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than 3,0. British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the Southwestern United States. Within the North American Cordillera, the Rockies are somewhat distinct from the Pacific Coast Ranges and the Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada which all lie further to the west. The Rocky Mountains were initially formed from 8.
Laramide orogeny, in which a number of plates began to slide 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 started to inhabit the mountain range. After Europeans, such as Sir Alexander Mackenzie, and Americans, such as the Lewis and Clark expedition, started to explore the range, minerals and furs drove the initial economic exploitation of the mountains, although the range itself never became densely populated. Much of the mountain range is protected by public parks and forest lands, and is a popular tourist destination, especially for hiking, camping, mountaineering, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, skiing, and snowboarding.
Etymology. The name of the mountains is a translation of an Amerindian name that is closely related to Algonquian; the Cree name . The first mention of their present name by a European was in the journal of Jacques Legardeur de Saint- Pierre in 1.
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Other mountain ranges continue beyond those two rivers, including the Selwyn Mountains in Yukon, the Brooks Range in Alaska, and the Sierra Madre in Mexico, but those are not part of the Rockies, though they are part of the American Cordillera. The United States definition of the Rockies includes the Cabinet and Salish Mountains of Idaho and Montana. Their counterparts north of the Kootenai River, the Columbia Mountains, are considered a separate system in Canada, lying to the west of the huge Rocky Mountain Trench. This 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.
Also west of the Rocky Mountain Trench, farther north and facing the Muskwa Range across the trench, are the Stikine Ranges and Omineca Mountains of the Interior Mountains system of British Columbia. A small area east of Prince George, British Columbia on the eastern side of the Trench, the Mc. Gregor Plateau, resembles the Rockies but is considered part of the Interior Plateau.
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. In Canada geographers define three main groups of ranges: the Continental Ranges, Hart Ranges and Muskwa Ranges (the latter two flank the Peace River, the only river to pierce the Rockies, and are collectively referred to as the Northern Rockies).
The Muskwa and Hart Ranges together comprise what is known as the Northern Rockies (the Mackenzie Mountains north of the Liard River are sometimes referred to as being part of the Rocky Mountains but this is an unofficial designation). The Great Basin and Columbia River Plateau separate these sub- ranges from distinct ranges further to the west, most prominent among which are the Sierra Nevada, Cascade Range and Coast Mountains. The Rockies do not extend into the Yukon or Alaska, or into central British Columbia, where the Rocky Mountain System (but not the Rocky Mountains) includes the Columbia Mountains, the southward extension of which is considered part of the Rockies in the United States.
The Rocky Mountain System within the United States is a United States physiographic region; the Rocky Mountain System is known in Canada as the Eastern System. 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 1. Mount Robson in British Columbia, at 1. Canadian Rockies.
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 (8,0. Glacier National Park is so named because water that falls 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. See Rivers of the Rocky Mountains for a list of rivers.
Human population is not very dense in the Rocky Mountains, with an average of four people per square kilometer and few cities with over 5. However, the human population grew rapidly in the Rocky Mountain states between 1. The 4. 0- year statewide increases in population range from 3.
Montana to about 1. Utah and Colorado. The populations of several mountain towns and communities have doubled in the last 4.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, increased 2. The oldest rock is Precambrianmetamorphic rock that forms the core of the North American continent.
There is also Precambrian sedimentary argillite, dating back to 1. During the Paleozoic, western North America lay underneath a shallow sea, which deposited many kilometers of limestone and dolomite. 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. 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. This low angle moved the focus of melting and mountain building much farther inland than the normal 2. It is postulated that the shallow angle of the subducting plate greatly 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 extraordinarily broad, high Rocky Mountain range. In the last 6. 0 million years, erosion stripped away the high rocks, revealing the ancestral rocks beneath, and forming the current landscape of the Rockies. 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 that began about 1. Pinedale Glaciation that probably remained at full glaciation until 1.
For example, volcanic rock from the Paleogene and Neogene periods (6. 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. Tetons) to more than 3. Beartooth Mountains).
The Rockies range in latitude between the Liard River in British Columbia (at 5. Prairie occurs at or below 1,8. Mount Elbert at 1. Precipitation ranges from 1.
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 1,8. Alpine tundra occurs in regions above the treeline for the Rocky Mountains, which varies from 1. New Mexico to 2,5.
Rocky Mountains (near the Yukon). 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.
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. Paleo- Indians hunted the now- extinct mammoth and ancient bison (an animal 2. 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 the crest of the Continental Divide, rock walls that Native Americans built for driving game date back 5,4. 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. The Spanish explorer Francisco V.
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. 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 1. European- American mountain men during their travels.