Forming the Rocky Mountains in RMNP

The park has a very violent history. Volcanoes exploded, rock pushed upwards pulling the earth apart, and massive glaciers grinded down valleys.
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The park has a very violent history. Volcanoes exploded, rock pushed upwards pulling the earth apart, and massive glaciers grinded down valleys.
Mummy Range, Rocky Mountain Park

A Violent Volcano Formed the Rockies

Rocky Mountain National Park has a very violent history. During the Park's creation, volcanoes exploded, rock pushed upwards pulling the earth apart, and massive glaciers grinded down valleys, digging out deep cirques and depositing massive boulders along the way.

When looking at a relief map of the Park, it's as if someone punched the earth, molding its peaks in random order, or at least where the knuckles were. Classified as Southern Rockies, the park boasts three major ranges: the Front Range, flanked by the Great Plains to the east. The Never Summer Mountains, pushing up against the continental divide and Kawuneeche Valley. And The Mummy Range dominating the northeastern section of the Park. Appropriately known as the rooftop of America, the park ranges in elevation from 7,800 feet to 14,259 feet. Nearly one third of the park sits above tree line and the park is home to some of the most rugged wildlife in America. Overall it is truly a mountain range with a border.

The Front Range

Roughly 70 million years ago the Front Range began pushing upwards creating an instant divide between mountains and the Great Plains. The range, officially 180-miles long, starts in Wyoming and extends down to the Arkansas River, with a large majority cutting through the Park. Geologists have determined some of the rock comprising the Front Range dates back over 1.5 billion years old, meaning the Front Range is home to some of the oldest rock in America.

Inside the Park the Front Range does not disappoint. Several of the Park's major mountains can be credited to the violent uprising including the Park's highest peak Longs Peak (14,259 ft.). Longs next-door neighbor Mount Meeker, is just shy of 14,000 feet, coming in at 13,911 feet tall.

Some of the Park's most impressive glacier activity is also noticeable in this section of the Front Range. Glacier Gorge, pouring down from McHenrys Peak and Chiefs Head Peak is a strong example of the devastation a glacier can leave behind. One of the Park's most popular hikes leads up the Glacier Gorge to Black Lake.

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