The Canadian Rockies comprise the Canadian segment of the Rocky Mountains range. They are the eastern part of the Canadian Cordillera, extending from the Interior Plains of Alberta to the Rocky Mountain Trench of British Columbia. The southern end borders Idaho and Montana of the USA. The northern end is at the Liard River in northern British Columbia.

Mount Robson (3,954 m (12,972 ft)) is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, but not the highest in British Columbia, since there are some higher mountains in the Coast Mountains and Saint Elias Mountains. However, Mount Robson is particularly impressive because it stands out on the continental divide towering over Yellowhead Pass, one of the lowest passes in the Canadian Rockies, and is close to the Yellowhead Highway. Its base is only 985 m above sea level, meaning it has a total vertical relief of 2,969 m or nearly 10,000 feet. In addition, it rises the 3 km to its summit in a distance of only 4 km from its base at Kinney Lake. Climbing Mount Robson is a challenge suitable for experienced and well-prepared mountaineers, and usually requires a week on the mountain.

Mount Columbia (3,747 m (12,293 ft)) is the second-highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, and is the highest mountain in Alberta. There is a non-technical route to the top involving only kicking steps in the snow, but the approach is across the Columbia Icefieldand requires glacier travel and crevasse rescue knowledge. It is normally done in two days, with a night at high camp, but some strong skiers have done from the highway in a day. On the other hand, many others have been stuck in their tents for days waiting for the weather to clear. From the same high camp as for Mount Columbia, it is possible to ascend a number of other high peaks in the area, including North Twin, South Twin, Kitchener, Stutfield and Snow Dome.

Mountain Ranges

The Canadian Rockies are subdivided into numerous mountain ranges, structured in two main groupings, the Continental Ranges, which has three main subdivisions, the Front Range, Park Ranges and Kootenay Ranges, and the Northern Rockies which comprise two main groupings, the Hart Ranges and the Muskwa Ranges. The division-point of the two main groupings is atMonkman Pass northwest of Mount Robson and to the southwest of Mount Ovington.

National Parks

Five national parks are located within the Canadian Rockies, four of which are adjacent and make up the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks. These four parks are Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho. The fifth national park, Waterton is not adjacent to the others. Waterton lies farther south, straddling the U.S./Canadian border as the Canadian half of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. All five of these parks, combined with three British Columbia provincial parks, were declared a single UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 for the unique mountain landscapes found there. Numerous provincial parks are located in the Canadian Rockies, including Hamber, Mount Assiniboine and Mount Robson parks. Throughout the Rockies, and especially in the national parks, the Alpine Club of Canada maintains a series of alpine huts for use bymountaineers and adventurers

Fauna

The Rocky Mountains are important habitat for a great deal of well-known wildife, such as elk, moose, mule and white-tailed deer, pronghorns,mountain goats, bighorn sheep, black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, coyotes, lynxes, and wolverines. For example, North America’s largest herds of moose is in the Alberta-British Columbia foothills forests. The status of most species in the Rocky Mountains is unknown however, due to incomplete information. Even basic regional information is not available on many nocturnal species (for example, bats, raccoons, and so forth); invertebrates; lichens, mosses, and fungi; and soil microorganisms. European-American settlement of the mountains has adversely impacted native species. Examples of some species that are known to have declined include western toads, greenback cutthroat trouts, white sturgeons, white-tailed ptarmigans, trumpeter swans, and bighorn sheep. In the United States portion of the mountain range, apex predators such as grizzly bears andgray wolves had been extirpated from their original ranges, but have partially recovered due to conservation measures and reintroduction. Other recovering species include the bald eagleand the peregrine falcon. Species such as the black bear and mountain lion, many small mammals, and common bird and plant species are described as stable because, in most instances, the populations are persistent and not rapidly increasing or declining.

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