The Cascade Mountains, also called the Cascade Range, are located on the westernmost coast of North America. They extend from the southernmost peak, Lassen Peak in northern California, to the northernmost, Mount Lytton in British Columbia, covering a total distance of approximately 700 miles. At its widest, the range stretches to 80 miles. The highest peak in the range is Mount Rainier, standing over 14,000 feet tall. The range is composed of both volcanic and non-volcanic mountains. The majority of the volcanoes are located in the United States, and are referred to as the High Cascades. The most recent eruption of a Cascade mountain was that of Mount St Helen's in 1980, which had a death toll of 57 people.
Habitation in the area has gone on for thousands of years, with the first inhabitants being Native Americans, who developed a rich mythology surrounding the various mountains. Many of the mountains received their current names in 1792 at the hands of British explorer George Vancouver. In 1805 the mountains were crossed by the Lewis and Clark Expedition via the Columbia River Gorge, the only major break in the American part of the mountains. It was shortly after this voyage, and the numerous voyages of settlers that followed it, that the range received its current name, the Cascades, based on the Cascades Rapids at the end of the Columbia River that all who used that route had to weather. Settlement in the region was accelerated by the presence of fur trading stations, then by the Oregon Treaty. In Canada acceleration was seen in the mid-1800s with the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. Habitation in the region has since remained fairly steady. The region supports farming, especially in areas close to the volcanoes. It is also home to a number of ski resorts and hydroelectric dams. There are dozens of national and provincial parks, and wilderness areas in the region.