The Rocky Mountains (or the Rockies) are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than 3,000 miles (4,830 km) from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States. Within the North American Cordillera, the Rockies are somewhat distinct from the Pacific Coast Ranges and the Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada which all lie further to the west.
The Rocky Mountains were formed from 80 million to 55 million years ago by the Laramide orogeny. Since then, erosion by water and glaciers have sculpted the mountain range into dramatic valleys and peaks. At the end of the last ice age, humans started to inhabit the mountain range. After Europeans, such as Sir Alexander MacKenzie and the Lewis and Clark expedition, started to explore the range, minerals and furs drove the initial economic exploitation of the mountains, although the range itself never became densely populated.
Currently, much of the mountain range is protected by public parks and forest lands, and is a popular tourist destination, especially for hiking, camping, mountaineering, fishing, hunting, skiing, and snowboarding.