The Rocky Mountains, also called the Rockies, are located in western North America. They extend from the Liard River in northern British Columbia to northern New Mexico, covering a total distance of approximately 3,000 miles. At its widest, the range stretches to 300 miles across. It contains the highest mountains in North America. The highest peak in the range is Mount Elbert, which stands over 14,000 feet tall. The tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies is Mount Robson, which stands just under 13,000 feet tall. The range is non-volcanic, and is located on the Continental Divide.
Habitation in the area has persisted since the end of the last ice age, with the first inhabitants being Native Americans. The first Europeans in the area arrived around 1540, and have remained in the area ever since. The area gained more human activity in the late 18th century with the introduction of fur traders, who discovered large swathes of the range. This activity continued to increase into the 19th century, with the movements of so-called mountain men, who roamed the area in search of furs and precious minerals, and in the early years of the 19th century the Lewis and Clark Expedition made the first scientifically-minded trek across the region. In the mid-19th century a series of gold rushes rapidly accelerated settlement all along the range, from British Columbia to the United States. In 1871 the first national park, Yellowstone, was established in the Rockies. In 1885 the first Canadian national park, Banff, was established. Habitation in the regions is presently fairly sparse, with about ten people per square mile. Few cities exceed 50,000 people, though there have been recent notable increase in population in the American portions of the mountains. The region supports the mining, forestry and agricultural industries. The tourism and recreational industries in the region are especially lucrative, and there are a number of ski resorts and national parks that dot the range.