Rocky Mountains - North America's Greatest Mountain Range


The Rocky Mountains are part of the longest mountain range in the world. They run down the western part of North America, from Alaska to Mexico and continue as the Andes Mountains in South America.

The Rocky Mountains are almost 5,000 km long and, in the central part of the USA, almost 500 km wide. The mountains are made up of many separate ranges. The highest peak is Mt.Elbert, which reaches 4,400 metres. In between the ranges are valleys and large basins. The Rocky Mountains are quite young, created between 70 million and 40 million years ago. Before this happened great oceans covered the region and built up hundreds of metres of sediments. Many rivers, including the Columbia, Yukon and Colorado wind their paths through the Rockies.

The Rocky Mountains separate the flow of rivers in America. Some of them take a short steep route to the west and flow into the Pacific, some flow to the east into the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River.

The climate can turn out to be very cold and Arctic in the northern parts, but warm and desert-like towards the south. In middle heights there are many forests with aspen, pine and fir trees. Higher up you can find hemlock and spruce. Sagebrush can be found in the valleys.



The Rocky Mountains are home of different kinds of animals. Sheep, goats, mountain lions and grizzly bears are common in these regions. The bald eagle, America's symbol, flies in the skies.

Native Americans came to the Rocky Mountains region from Asia via the Bering Strait, which was frozen during the Ice Age. The first European settlers arrived in the south-western parts of the mountains in the 16th century. Trappers, hunters and traders explored the region throughout the early period. For hundreds of years Europeans and Native Americans fought over land. Many Native Americans now live on reservations that were created in the region.

The Rocky Mountains is an area with raw materials, like copper, silver and gold. Energy sources include gas and oil shale, a valuable rock that has petroleum in it. Environmentalists fear, however, that the mountains may get damaged because companies are clearing forests and mining raw materials.

Millions of tourists visit the Rocky Mountains region from all over the world each year. They visit Yellowstone and other national parks during the summer months and go to famous skiing resorts, like Aspen or Vale in the winter.



Related Topics



  • bald eagle = a large North American eagle with a white head and neck; it is the national symbol of the USA
  • basin = an area of land that is lower than the mountains and hills around it
  • Bering Strait = the narrow area of water that separates Asia and North America
  • clear = cut down
  • common = popular
  • continue = go on
  • copper = a soft reddish brown metal that you make electric wires and pipes of
  • explore = to find out new things about something
  • height = how high something is
  • hemlock = a very poisonous plant , or the poison that is made from it
  • include = consist of
  • including = also
  • mine = to dig metals and other raw materials out of the ground
  • mountain range = line of mountains
  • Native Americans = Indians
  • path = route, way
  • peak = the sharp pointed top of a mountain
  • petroleum = oil
  • raw material = materials like oil, coal, wood , which we need for energy or industries
  • reach = gets to
  • reservation = an area of land  in the US in which Native Americans live
  • sagebrush = a small plant that is found in the dry regions of the western United States
  • sediment = material that goes down to the bottom of an ocean or a river
  • separate = different
  • settler = a person who comes to a new area and lives there for the first time
  • skiing resort = famous place where many people go for skiing
  • spruce = a tree that grows in northern countries and has leaves that are like needles
  • steep = not flat
  • throughout = in all of
  • towards = in the direction of
  • valuable = very important
  • via = through, over, across
  • wind = twist, move in many curves