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Topic – Up in the Rocky Mountains

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Up in the Rocky Mountains

Canada’s most famous mountain range is the Rocky Mountains. Stretching from northern British Columbia into Alberta and far down into the United States, the rugged peaks of the Rockies soar high into the sky.

The Rockies Through the Ages

It was those rugged peaks that gave the Rocky Mountains their name. Native people have lived in the area for thousands of years. They named the mountains for their rocky cliffs. Europeans began exploring the Rockies in the 1500s. About 200 years later, they began fur trapping, trading, and mining there.

Today the Rocky Mountains are best known for their beautiful parks. Banff National Park, located west of Calgary in Alberta, was Canada’s first national park. It was set up in 1885 to help protect the Rockies’ glaciers, ice fields, forests, and beautiful alpine landscapes. Banff National Park has over 1600 kilometres of hiking trails. Other parks that are part of the Canadian Rockies include Yoho, Jasper, Kootenay, Banff, and Waterton.

Pikas and Pine Martens

From the tiny rabbit-like pika to the huge, powerful grizzly bear, many animals live in the Rockies. Life is tough here. Snow often blankets the peaks and the lakes can be frozen from November to June.

Bighorn sheep and mountain goats live in the Rocky Mountains. These animals have developed special hooves to help them keep their balance as they pick their way over the jagged rocks. Cougars and pine martens hunt for food in the low bushes and shrubs.

At the lower levels of the Rockies, there are trees such as maples, firs, poplars, and pines. Higher up the mountains, trees will not grow in the higher altitudes where it is windy and cold. Instead, this is where low alpine plants such as bedstraw, fleabane, paintbrush, and even elephant’s head lousewort grow.

The Rockies Today

There is still mining in the Rockies, as well as farming, ranching, and forestry. Mountain climbers love the Rockies, and so do hikers and mountain bikers. Campers like to pitch their tents in the beautiful wilderness. People fish in the crystal-clear mountain lakes. In winter, skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes to enjoy skiing on the fluffy white snow.

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