The Rocky Mountains are important to the North American continent as a whole because the Continental Divide (the line that determines whether water will flow into the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic) is in the range. The Rocky Mountains are important for many different reasons. The first is that many visitors like to camp, hike, fish and even climb the mountains within this region. Glaciers from the early ice ages had carved each of the mountains, lakes and rivers, forming an impressive region to visit.
Many animals, birds and insects that survive in subalpine climates find this mountain range a safe home for their survival. Extensive high mountain ranges with scattered small glaciers and jagged peaks, then deep valleys carved by glaciers. Snow cover provides significant annual runoff for major river basins, such as Columbia, Colorado, Missouri, Platte, Arkansas and Rio Grande. Alpine tundra, subalpine fir and lodgepole pine forests, montane grasslands and mixed coniferous forests of Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, western red cedar and western hemlock predominate.
Further south, the growth of the Rocky Mountains in the united states was likely caused by an unusual subduction, in which the Farallon plate plunged at a shallow angle below the North American plate. Other mountains that formed around this time are the Laramie Mountains and the Black Mountains in Wyoming. The Rocky Mountains of North America, or the Rocky Mountains, extend from northern Alberta and British Columbia in Canada south to New Mexico in the United States, a distance of about 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers). This structural depression, known as the Rocky Mountain Geosincline, eventually extended from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico and became a continuous waterway during the Cretaceous Period (about 145 to 66 million years ago).