There are plenty of fascinating Rocky Mountain facts to consider. One such fact relates to the extensive nature of the chain. Commonly referred to as the Rockies, this lengthy mountain range extends for more than 3,000 miles. In regards to altitude, the Rocky Mountains are home to some of the highest peaks in North America. The range is also home to the Continental Divide, and thanks to numerous parks, forest lands and mountain resorts, its is a verifiable playground for outdoor enthusiasts.
The Rocky Mountains stretch from British Columbia on the northern side on down to New Mexico in the south. The tallest peak in the range is Colorado’s Mt. Elbert. It rises to an elevation of 14,433 feet above sea level. On the Canadian side, the highest peak in the pack is Mt. Robson. It tops out at 12,972 feet and is found in east-central British Columbia.
To the east of the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains unfold. To the west, the terrain is largely characterized by plateaus and basins. The mountains themselves were caused by tectonic forces, and the rocks that they are comprised of were formed a very long time ago. In fact, the oldest rocks that are found in the chain are more than one billion years old. Also worth considering when it comes to the history of the Rocky Mountains is the human history. Indigenous peoples started to arrive after the last great ice age came to an end. More recent history sees the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado arriving in the region in 1540. The arrival of more Europeans subsequent to this helped to change the Native American landscape and the history of the Rockies in general.
In the mid-1800's, gold was discovered in the Rocky Mountains, and this caused a population boom of sorts. In 1872, Yellowstone National Park was established, and U.S. President Benjamin Harrison is credited with establishing several forest reserves in the early 1890's. The establishment of such parks and forest reserves essentially laid the foundation for tourism, and today, the Rocky Mountains are among the world’s most popular vacation destinations.