Let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about the Canadian Rockies, an incredibly fascinating area in the western part of Canada.
1. The mountain range is located in two Canadian provinces
Even though the geological boundary of the Canadian Rockies extends well in the US State of Montana, the geographic boundary is located right on the Canada–United States border.
The western boundary of the mountain range is pretty clear as it’s a large valley called the “Rocky Mountain Trench.” This valley is also known as the “Valley of the Thousand Peaks” or the “Trench” and has a length of about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles).
The northern boundary is marked by the Liard River valley in the utmost northern part of British Columbia.
The mountain range has a total length of 1,460 kilometers (910 miles), an average width of 180 kilometers (110 miles), and covers an area of 194,000 square kilometers (75,000 square miles) in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.
2. It’s part of a much larger interconnected chain of mountain ranges
The Rocky Mountains is the largest mountain range in North America and is itself part of an even larger chain of mountain ranges called the “North American Cordillera.”
This chain of mountains runs all the way from the central part of the US State of Alaska in the north to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico in the south.
This in turn is part of the even larger chain of mountains that run all across the western part of the Americas called the “American Cordillera.” This chain eventually ends in an archipelago in the utmost southern tip of South America called Tierra del Fuego.
The Canadian Rockies are part of the northern section of the North American Cordillera and comprise both the Alberta Rockies and the B.C. Rockies.
3. It’s far from being the highest mountain range in Canada
The highest peak in the mountain range is a majestic mountain called “Mount Robson.” This distinctive peak reaches an elevation of 3,954 meters (12,972 feet) and is located in British Columbia.
What’s remarkable is that even though the Rockies are arguably the most famous mountain range in North America, it doesn’t feature the highest peak in Canada. Both the Saint Elias Mountains and the Coast Mountains feature higher peaks.
The highest peak in Canada is quite a bit higher than Mount Robson as well. Mount Logan is part of the Saint Elias Mountains and reaches a height of 5,959 meters (19,551 feet) above sea level.
4. Several features make them different from the American Rockies
In case you visit the Canadian Rockies, the first thing you’ll notice is that the peaks of the mountains are extremely pointy. That’s a sheer contrast with their neighbors in the south, the American Rockies, which have rounded peaks.
That’s because their American counterpart consists of metamorphic rocks such as gneiss and granite, while the Canadian Rockies mostly consist of sedimentary rock such as limestone and shale.
Because they are situated more north they also feature a lot more glaciers. This means that the valleys are steep and U-Shaped as opposed to the V-shaped valleys in the American Rockies which were carved into the landscape by rivers.
5. The mountain range is home to 5 mesmerizing national parks
If you want to hike in a magnificent landscape, then this is one of the best places in Canada to visit. The Canadian Rockies are home to 5 national parks, 4 of which adjoin each other. These are:
- Banff National Park – The oldest national park in Canada that was established in 1885 and is located in Alberta.
- Jasper National Park – The largest national park in Canada covering an area of 11,000 square kilometers (4,200 square miles).
- Kootenay National Park – Situated around the Kootenay River in British Columbia.
- Yoho National Park – Yoho means “amazement” or “Awe” in the Cree language and describes the natural wonders inside the park.
- Waterton Lakes National Park – Situated right on the border with the US State of Montana.
Only the Waterton Lakes National Park doesn’t border with the 4 others as it’s situated right on the border with the United States in the utmost southern part of Alberta.
More interesting facts about the Canadian Rockies
6. Mount Robson is an amazing and iconic peak and that’s mainly because its base is only located at an elevation of 985 meters (3,232 feet) above sea level.
This means that the additional 2,969 meters (9,741 feet) are pretty much completely visible from the Yellowhead Highway near which it’s located.
7. Banff National park is the location of one of the most picturesque lakes in the world called “Moraine Lake.” This is just one of the numerous glacial lakes that feature a remarkable blue-green color within the mountain range.
The main reason why it’s such a popular spot for tourists to take pictures is that it’s located in the “Valley of the Ten Peaks” which means it’s surrounded by amazing mountains.
8. Even though only one river crosses the mountain range, the Peace River, multiple important rivers in the region emerge from it. These include Fraser, Columbia, North Saskatchewan, Bow, and Athabasca Rivers.
9. The Canadian Rockies not only form an important geographical divide in Canada, but it also forms the divide between the two main drainage barriers in the country. These are the Pacific Ocean drainage basin on the west and that of the Arctic and Hudson Bay in the east.
10. The landscape inside the national parks in Alberta and British Columbia is something truly special. The majestic mountain peaks in combination with valleys featuring glacial lakes, waterfalls, canyons, limestone caves, and glaciers are absolutely mesmerizing.
That’s why the 5 national parks mentioned above along with 3 other national parks in British Columbia were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984.
It’s hard to object to this recognition, don’t you think?