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The Young Alaskans in the Rockies by Emerson Hough Well, here we are, fellows,” said Jesse Wilcox, as he threw down an armful of wood at the side of the .
Table of contents

The Teton's spectacular peaks are an impressive example of fault blocks.

They are steep on the eastern flank, have no foothills, and have precipices sweeping up to jagged mountain crests. This area of rugged wilderness with steep slopes, high relief, 60 glaciers, alpine meadows, and forests is one of the most beautiful of the Rockies.

The Uinta Mountains extend in a flat-crested arc from east to west in Utah; their highest point, Kings Peak, stands at 13, feet 4, meters. Rising from Salt Lake City is its highest peak, Mt. Timpanogos, at 12, feet 3, meters. The Southern Rockies are composed of intrusions of igneous material that formed extensive batholiths with most of the surface covering of sedimentary rock eroded. Further uplift and alpine glaciation contributed to the great elevation. There are no low passes. In Wyoming the Medicine Bow Range meets the Front Range in Rocky Mountain National Park, square miles 1, sq km of towering peaks, glaciers, canyons, waterfalls, lakes, and streams.

Alaskan mountains

The Laramie Mountains are moderate in size and height but are perhaps the most significant geologically of all the Rocky Mountains. They are used for dating the mountain-building epoch of the entire system. The range includes Laramie Peak at 10, feet 3, meters. It is bounded by plains to the east and by Laramie Basin to the West. The crests of the mountains are 20 to 60 miles 32 to 96 km apart and are separated by basins. The Front Range has 65 peaks greater than 10, feet 3, meters. The highest is Gray's Peak, at 14, feet 4, meters , although Pike's Peak, at 14, feet 4, meters , is more famous.

The highest peak in Colorado, as well as in the entire Rockies, is Mt. Elbert 14, feet, or 4, meters in the Sawatch Mountains. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains contain some of the most beautiful peaks and valleys of the Southern Rockies.

Created by complex folds and overthrusts, these mountains run north and south and contain the highest peak in New Mexico—Wheeler Peak, at 13, feet 4, meters. These broad, domelike mountains were buried by volcanic lavas and are now heavily forested. Uncompahgre Peak, at 14, feet 4, meters , is the highest peak. Stretching from the cold Arctic to warm, temperate New Mexico and varying from deep canyons to high elevations, the Rockies are home to a wide variety of plant and animal life. The combination of elevation, latitude, and exposure influences the type of plants to be found in any given location.

In the Rocky Mountain area the elevation-latitude relationship is best demonstrated by the different tree-line elevations from north to south. In the Yukon Territory, the tree line—above which trees do not grow except in stunted forms—is 2, feet meters ; at the Canada—United States border it is 6, feet 1, meters ; and in New Mexico it is between 11, and 12, feet 3, and 3, meters.

The forests of the Rockies are dominated by conifers—pines, spruces, and firs. The valleys and basins of the Middle and Southern Rockies are treeless, except along streams. Sagebrush is typical in the Wyoming basin and in the lower parks and valleys as far north as British Columbia.

This windblown vegetation is known as Krummholz. Knee-high willows are found in the Arctic Rockies. Above the tree line throughout the Rockies the alpine-tundra vegetation includes grasses, low-flowering plants, lichens, and moss.

Emerson Hough

Notable among the colorful flowering plants are Indian paintbrush, lupine, saxifrage, columbine, monk's cap, gentian, larkspur, and daisies. The basin and lowland areas are populated with sage hens, jackrabbits, marmots, prairie dogs, and coyotes. The bird population at the base of the ranges includes bluebirds, robins, Louisiana orioles, canaries, sparrows, and jays. Eagles, ptarmigans, snow buntings, and marmots all live in the tundra areas. Trout-filled streams and bigger game are found at the higher elevations. Wolves are found in the Arctic Rockies. Caribou is found only in the Rockies of the Arctic and northern Canada, but deer, antelope, bear, fox, elk, moose, sheep, and beaver are typical elsewhere.

Goats, grizzly bear, black bear, and bison are found in Yellowstone National Park. The Tetons are the winter feeding ground of the largest herd of American elk. Since the American Indians and early white explorers, the Rocky Mountains have had a succession of occupants. These people have established towns in the region but have left it virtually without cities. Miners were the first to have considerable impact on the region. Mining towns sprang up from Canada to Colorado. Later many became ghost towns with abandoned mine shafts and dilapidated buildings standing as silent reminders of a picturesque past.

Mining is still an important activity in the Rockies, and some boom towns have reappeared. The Arctic Rockies have petroleum and other minerals. Ore mining in the Northern Rockies includes the mixed sulfide ores of copper, silver, lead, and zinc. Copper, lead, and zinc are mined in British Columbia. Coal is mined along the border with Alberta. Copper is mined in Montana, silver and antimony in the Coeur d'Alene area of Idaho, and phosphate in southern Idaho.

The Wind River Range has open-pit iron-ore mines. Soda ash, petroleum, natural gas, and coal are mined in Wyoming, and oil shale is found in southwestern Wyoming and northwestern Colorado.

Alaskan Highway Mile 462 - Picture of Northern Rockies Lodge, Muncho Lake

Uranium, petroleum, coal, gold, silver, lead, and zinc are all mined in the Southern Rockies. The Leadville area of Colorado has the world's largest molybdenum mine and is the leading U. Water is perhaps the most important economic asset of the Rocky Mountain area.

The irrigation projects of the Canadian and U. The grasslands of the valleys and basins provide areas to graze cattle and sheep.

EMERSON HOUGH

Small ranches are typical of the sagebrush plains and grasslands in the southern part of the Northern Rockies. Forestry and its associated logging and lumbering operations on a large scale have been restricted mainly to the northern half of western Montana and northern Idaho. Douglas fir, pine, and spruce are the prime objects of the clear-cutting operations.

Perhaps the most dynamic aspect of the economy of the Rocky Mountain region is tourism. The spectacular scenery, resorts, dude ranches, national parks, and historical areas provide summer tourists with fishing, hunting, climbing, trail riding, touring, and hiking. Throughout the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras, from about to 65 million years ago, the Rocky Mountains area evolved into an assemblage of geosynclinal sediments with successive layers of sediment building up in an extensive depression.

Sediment from an even earlier period, including clays, sands, and marls, metamorphosed into argillites and quartz; the Paleozoic contributed limestone; and the Mesozoic mostly shales. During the Cretaceous Period, which started about million years ago, shallow seas covered the area from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico. Periods of uplift and drainage caused erosion of the sediments into basins. In Wyoming these actions removed the veneer of sediment and exposed extensive, oval-shaped cores of Precambrian rock, more than million years old.

In the Late Cretaceous—some 85 to 65 million years ago—a long succession of orogenies, or mountain-building episodes, occurred. These disturbances were generally responsible for the composite and complex compressional structures of asymmetrical anticlines or great fault blocks. In some areas volcanic activity and intrusions of igneous material also took place.

The most significant of the disturbances was the Laramide Orogeny, which occurred about 63 million years ago. Folding and thrust faulting created the anticlinal ranges of Wyoming, exposing the Precambrian, mostly granitic, cores. The sheets and strata, dating from the Paleozoic, mostly in Montana and Canada, were folded and thrust faulted in the western part.

Sediments and deposits were treated similarly in the east. Many of these were low angle sheets that were thrust horizontally rock mass upon rock mass over considerable distances. Some were later folded. Igneous activity was also taking place. Great intrusions of magma created batholiths in some places, especially in central Montana but also in the Southern Rockies. Numerous small bodies of igneous rock are found among the uplifted block dome structures of this area. Igneous rocks are also found in some of the compressional belts of Wyoming. During the late Eocene period, about 40 million years ago, there was considerable volcanic activity in northwestern Wyoming.

The most recent forces to carve and shape the Rocky Mountains occurred during the Pleistocene Epoch—the last 2 million years. They consisted largely of Precambrian metamorphic rock forced upward through layers of the limestone laid down in the shallow sea. Terranes began colliding with the western edge of North America in the Mississippian approximately million years ago , causing the Antler orogeny. The current Rocky Mountains arose in the Laramide orogeny from between 80 and 55 Ma. 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.

Further south, an unusual subduction may have caused the growth of the Rocky Mountains in the United States, where the Farallon plate dove at a shallow angle below the North American plate. Scientists hypothesize that the shallow angle of the subducting plate increased the friction and other interactions with the thick continental mass above it.


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Tremendous thrusts piled sheets of crust on top of each other, building the broad, high Rocky Mountain range. The current southern Rockies were forced upwards through the layers of Pennsylvanian and Permian sedimentary remnants of the Ancestral Rocky Mountains. In the last sixty million years, erosion stripped away the high rocks, revealing the ancestral rocks beneath, and forming the current landscape of the Rockies. Periods of glaciation occurred from the Pleistocene Epoch 1.

These ice ages left their mark on the Rockies, forming extensive glacial landforms, such as U-shaped valleys and cirques.

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Recent glacial episodes included the Bull Lake Glaciation , which began about , years ago, and the Pinedale Glaciation , which perhaps remained at full glaciation until 15,—20, years ago. All of these geological processes exposed a complex set of rocks at the surface. 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.