One of the most bizarre sensations is standing outside your car in 30 degree heat, getting a sunburn, and seeing snow topped mountains ahead of you.
It wasn’t the sheer size of The Rockies, or the dramatic difference in landscape every few hours, that stayed with me the most about our road trip. It was the cognitive dissonance I had with getting sweaty and burnt looking at snow.
Maybe I’ll blame that 9 month winter and the polar vortex in North America for that.
Any time I’ve described the beauty of the Blue Mountains in Australia to my Canadian friends, they’ve gushed about the Rockies. “You haven’t seen mountains til you’ve seen the Rockies.”
I must admit, I was a little sceptical. After all, these are the people who also gush about how fantastic Vancouver beaches are. Err, no guys. Beaches and Canada are mutually exclusive terms. Trust me.
We crossed the border into Denver, Colorado early in the morning and began our day long trek through the Rockies.
If you’re a reader who’s unfamiliar with the Rockies, it’s a ginormous mountain range in western North America. The Rockies begin in British Columbia, stretching more than 3,000 miles across Western Canada to New Mexico in the south-west of America.
The Rockies were formed 80 to 55 million years ago from tectonic activity resulting in a broad belt of mountains. These days the mountain range is made up of protected public parks and forestland, and industry.
So what is there to do in the Rockies if you have more time than just a day’s roadtrip, like us?
Winter’s the high season for the Rockies and needs no explanation – snowboarding, skiing, après ski drinks, and the usual chalet fun. The Winter season is a long one – from mid November to mid April. But just as much fun can be had during Spring, Summer and Fall.
Summer is perfect for mountain bike riders, with Colorado having well maintained and picturesque bike trails along the Colorado river, winding up through the mountains. There are sections suitable for beginners and for enthusiasts.
Aside from the biking, there’s rock climbing, white-water rafting, hiking, fishing, and camping. There’s also hunting, if you’re into that sort of thing (and I couldn’t be further from “that sort of thing” if that sort of thing was a huge bear coming to eat me).
Cool facts about the Rockies:
- The highest peak is Mount Elbert in Colorado at 14,440 feet (4,401 m) above sea level. The highest peak in the Canadian part of the Rockies is Mount Robson, at almost 13,000 feet (3,954 metres).
- North America’s largest herds of moose is in the Alberta-British Columbia foothills forests.
- Between 1930 and 1940, the spread of African frogs to Colorado brought a deadly disease to the rest of the amphibian population. The leopard frog is now extinct in Colorado’s section of the Rockies.
- Trail Ridge Road is the highest, continual highway in all of the United States. The maximum height is 12,183 feet.
- Rocky Mountain has been a home to some indigenous people after the ice age era, including, the Apache, Araphao, Bannock, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Crow Nation, Flathead, Shoshone, Sioux, Ute, Kutenai (Ktunaxa in Canada), Sekani, Dunne-za.
- In 1917, the first female nature guides in America were licensed in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Have you been to the Rockies? What’s your favourite – the Canadian or the American part?
You can connect with South Nomad, Jessica, over at Google+.