The Rocky Mountains , a vast mountain range that stretches more than 4,800 kilometers from New Mexico to British Columbia in Canada, are the epitome of raw American beauty. Whether you are at the foot of its snow-capped peaks, on the edge of its breathtaking canyons or in the heart of its verdant plains, you could not feel closer to the legendary American West.
Land of many Native American tribes
A rugged and indomitable region, the Rockies were originally populated by various Native American tribes including the Apache, Cheyenne, Blackfoot, Flathead, Sioux and Utes who learned to make the most of their resources and adapt to their harshness. For thousands of years, the native people have hunted bison for food, clothing and weapons, recycling the hides and bones. In the fall, they left the mountains for the plains, where the climate was milder and offered them refuge for the winter. The arrival of the Europeans on the territory will completely change the history of the Rockies.
An obstacle to the conquest of the West
Forming a natural barrier stretching from the north to the south of the country, they were a major obstacle to the conquest of the West. The first Europeans to explore the region were the Spanish. Then, French-Canadian fur traders entered the area. But the area remained difficult to access, apart from a few trappers, the mountains were not yet frequented by the Americans who took control of the northern part of the Rockies in 1803. The first crossing organized by the United States took place the same year. It took place within the framework of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition (1804-1806) and made it possible to make known the mountain range and its surroundings. Maps are drawn, we meet its reliefs, its fauna and its flora. The Rockies became known to the general public. Then, little by little, the region began to be populated, the Mormons settled around Salt Lake City in 1847 and, in 1859, the discovery of gold at Cripple Creek in Colorado soon attracted the crowds.
The Gold Rush, a significant period in the history of the Rockies
In the 19th century, a rumor spread that the Rockies were full of gold. Thousands of gold seekers landed in Colorado where the precious ore began to be mined. Camps were built and a whole host of activities were added to the mining economy: agriculture, entertainment... Entire towns sprang up near the mines. Finally, the region became accessible thanks to the transcontinental railroad in 1869 and life was organized around the stations. The search for gold was followed by the search for silver. The exploitation of the forests and agriculture also became important activities. In the meantime, the Amerindian tribes were massacred or deported eastward and quickly, this preserved and little frequented region was widely coveted and exploited for its numerous riches.
A myth is born
The history of the Rockies, as dense as it is fascinating, against a backdrop of grandiose landscapes, never ceases to fuel the collective imagination. To visit this region is to follow in the footsteps of this rich past. At Fort Laramie, explore the old military fort, which was once a trading center where Indians and trappers came to sell their beaver furs. You'll also get to know its famous characters and walk through the filming locations of the movies that immortalize it. In Cody, you'll meet Buffalo Bill, the famous buffalo hunter, and, if you want to get up close and personal with the greatest presidents of the United States, you'll meet the heads carved in the rock at Mount Rushmore. In Rapid City and Fort Pierre, return to the mythical scenes of Dances with Wolves and in Big Horn Mountains, panorama on the famous Brokeback Mountains. Finally, it is to return to the time of the conquest of the West and the gold rush. In South Dakota, stroll through the Wild West-like downtown of Deadwood and travel back in time to the arrival of the train in the historic towns of Duango and Silverton, Colorado.
Beautiful National Parks
The Rockies are also home to some of the country's most beautiful national parks. At Yellowstone, the oldest national park in the world, see incredible geothermal phenomena. Geysers, hot springs, multicolored pools... this natural paradise will never cease to amaze you. There is a good chance that you will come across deer and bison. Yellowstone is also known to be home to black bears, grizzly bears, coyotes, wolves and elk, which are more rare to see.
Nearby, neighboring Grand Teton Park is no slouch, revealing postcard-perfect scenery. With lakes, rivers, waterfalls, valleys and snow-capped peaks, you can expect unforgettable hikes. In a completely different setting, the Great Sand Dunes, nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and seemingly out of nowhere, hold a surprise for travelers.
Canyons and mountains, geysers and glaciers, salt deserts and sand dunes, nature in all its states
Much further north, near the border with Canada, the immense Glacier National Park is a meeting place for nature lovers. It is home to hundreds of glaciers and lakes and thousands of animal and plant species protected by UNESCO. And to enjoy the mountains even more, head to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Of course, you will be able to see or approach many peaks of the Rockies during your trip, but the state with the highest relief of the chain is Colorado. 78 of the 100 highest mountains are located there, including the highest (4,401 m), at Mount Elbert. It is therefore logical that the Rocky Mountain National Park is located in Colorado. It is also in Colorado that you will admire the unique Black Canyon of the Gunnison, which, with its dark colors, its depth and its narrow spread, is unlike any other canyon. Finally, if you're a fan of rock formations, head to the Badlands to hike or drive through its jagged terrain and approach its many paleontological remains.
A journey of discovery
Traveling through the Rockies means taking in exceptional panoramas and magical experiences. An immense region that reveals 70 million years of erosion and geological phenomena. An area so large that it stretches over 7 states. Nearly 5,000 km where you will have the opportunity to observe nature through an incredible diversity of climates, landscapes, living species and historical evidence. From the world's only concentration of fossilized dinosaur bones at Dinosaur National Monument to tours of the Cripple Creek Silver Mine, from the salt deserts of Great Salt Lake to the snowy peaks of the ski resorts
A trip that will satisfy all lovers of the great outdoors and outdoor activities. Thrill-seekers are sure to find an attraction among the many options available to them: rafting days on the Green River, horseback riding in Yellowstone, climbing at the Grand Teton...
And hikers couldn't ask for a better destination. Even the less athletic will enjoy the extraordinary scenery of the national parks and the spectacular terrain of the Rockies on short walks, on winding mountain roads or the endless straight roads of the plains. No matter which region you choose, a road trip in the Rockies is the promise of an unforgettable journey
When to go? Each season has its own advantages: summer and its warm days, autumn and its golden reflections, winter and its snowy coat, spring and its flowery landscapes. But if you want to enjoy nature to the fullest, without being dependent on the weather, choose the period from June to September.
Getting there. To enjoy the Rockies, land in Denver, Salt Lake City or Bozeman Yellowstone.
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