Rocky Mountain National Park
Photo courtesy NPS

The Rocky Mountains, often called the Rockies, are a broad mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than 3000 miles (4800 kilometres) from Mexico, through the continental United States, into Canada and Alaska. The highest peak is Mount Elbert, in Colorado, which is 14,433 feet (4399 metres) above sea level. Mount Robson (12,972'/3,954m) is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.

Table of contents
1 Geography and geology
2 Tourism and Industry
3 Climate
4 External Links

Geography and geology

The Rocky Mountains were created during what geologists call the Laramide orogeny during a period that started 70 million years ago and ended 30 million years ago. After the mountains were raised nearly as high as what the Himalayas are today, then part of western North America started to stretch and much of the south western part of the high mountain plateau started to get broken up into horsts (ranges) with grabens (basins) in between them. This area is now called the Basin and Range Province.

On July 24, 1832, Benjamin Bonneville led the first wagon train across the Rocky Mountains by using Wyoming's South Pass.

The rivers that flow from the Rocky Mountains eventually drain into three of the world's four Oceans: the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the Arctic Ocean. These rivers include:

Tourism and Industry

The population isnít very dense in the Rocky Mountains, with an average of four people per square kilometer and there are few cities with over 50,000 people. Although the Rockies are not the most populated area in North America, it is considered a popular tourist destination by many Americans. People from all over the country come to visit the beautiful sights or do their mountain sport. In the summer, main tourism attractions are Pikes Peak, Royal George, Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Trenton National Park, and Glacier National Park. In the winter, skiing is the main attraction. The major ski resorts are Aspen, Vail, Keystone, Breckenridge, and Copper Mountain in Colorado. In Idaho, Sun Valley is the main ski resort and in Utah, the main ski resort is Snowbird.

The main language is English, and the second main language is French. The two major commercial activities are mining and of course tourism. A major mine, Climax, located in Leadville, Colorado, is the largest producer of Molybdenum in the world. Molybdenum is used as a heat-resistant steel in such things like cars and planes. The Climax mine employs over 3,000 workers. The Coeur díAlene of northern Idaho is also productive. This mine produces silver, lead, and zinc.


The Rocky Mountains has a highland climate. The average temperature in the Rockies per year is 43 degrees Fahrenheit. July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit. In January, the average monthly temperature is 7 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the coldest month in the Rockies. The average precipitation per year is approximately 14 inches.

The summers in the Rockies are warm and dry. The average temperature in summer is 59 degrees Fahrenheit and the average precipitation is 5.9 inches. In the winter, it is very cold and wet, with an average temperature of 28 degrees Fahrenheit and average rainfall of 11.4 inches. In spring, the average temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the average precipitation is 4.2 inches. And in the fall, the average precipitation is 2.6 inches and the average temperature is 44 degrees Fahrenheit.

External Links

U.S. Geological Survey website on the Rocky Mountains

The World States - Regional Breakdowns, The Rocky Mountains

Blue Planet Biomes - Rocky Mountains