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exploring different mountain regions across the world Mountain Region

Forest Bathing

Exploring Different Mountain Regions Across the World

Mountains are found all across the world, varying just as much as the countries they are found in. The climate, flora, and fauna of these mountains vary drastically; some may be found in a desert climate, some remain temperate, and some are located in lush rainforests.

The unique ecology means that no two trips to the mountains will ever be the same. If you’re interested in finding traces of grizzly bears and bighorn sheep, perhaps a trip to the Rocky Mountains will do. If you’re more interested in seeing alpacas and llamas, a trip to the Andes Mountains would be perfect.

North America

The three major mountain ranges in the United States are the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains, and the Sierra Nevadas.

rocky mountain with stream and colors changingRocky Mountains

The Rocky Mountains are the longest mountain range in North America and the second largest in the world. They span 3,000 miles from New Mexico, up to Idaho, and extend into Canada. The highest point of the Rocky Mountains is Mount Elbert in Colorado, rising to 14,440 feet.

The Rockies have four distinct seasons, with summer being warm and rainy and winter being very cold and snowy. The forests are mostly made up of pine, oak, spruce, juniper, and fir, although the Rockies drastically change from sub-alpine to glacial.

A lot of different animals call the Rockies their home, including white-tailed deer, bobcats, coyotes, elk, grizzly and black bears, badgers, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep. Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton, and Glacier National Parks are all great starting points for experiencing the Rocky Mountains.1

Appalachian MountainsAppalachian Mountains

The Appalachian Mountains span 1,500 miles along the east coast of the United States from Maine all the way down to northern Alabama. The highest point of the Appalachians is Saint Mitchell in North Carolina, rising to 6,684 feet.

These mountains are nestled in the temperate forest and are mostly covered in a variety of trees such as spruce, birch, pine, and maple. Many animals can be found living here, including squirrels, white-tailed deer, beavers, black bears, wolves, cottontail rabbits, and foxes.

Some smaller mountain ranges located within the Appalachians are the Great Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Berkshires. Shenandoah National Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are great places to experience the beauty of the Appalachians.2

Sierra Nevada mountainsSierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevadas runs north to south along the eastern edge of California. The highest point of the Sierra Nevadas is Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet. Mount Whitney also happens to be the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states.

This mountain range is home to giant sequoia trees, which are the largest trees in the world. Some can grow over 270 feet tall and live for over 3,000 years. Other trees that thrive here are pine, juniper, aspen, fir, and hemlock. Grizzly bears, coyotes, cougars, black bears, wolverines, owls, hawks, and eagles all call the Sierra Nevadas their home. Both Yosemite National Park and Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks are located within this mountain range.3

South America

Andes Mountains

The Andes Mountains are the world’s largest continental mountain range. They run approximately 4,500 miles through seven different South American countries from Venezuela to Chile. The highest point in the Andes is Mount Aconcagua in Argentina at 22,841 feet.

andes mountainsThe Andes have a very unique ecosystem and a wide range of flora and fauna thrive here. Approximately two-thirds of the species living in the Andes are endemic to the region. Some common animals that can be found there include guanaco, chinchillas, llamas, alpacas, woolly monkeys, spectacled bears, vicuña, South American foxes, and mountain tapir.4

Because the Andes are so large, many different national parks offer stunning hikes and views. Torres del Paine, Lauca, Cotopaxi, and Tierra del Fuego national parks are great places to start.

Asia

When you think of mountain ranges in Asia, the first that comes to mind is likely the Himalayas. However, while they are the tallest mountain range, they aren’t the longest. The top three longest mountain ranges in Asia are the Kunlun Mountains, the Tian Shan Mountains, and the Ural Mountains. The Himalayas actually come in at fourth place.

kunlun mountainsKunlun Mountains

The Kunlun Mountains are located in China and span a length of over 1,250 miles. The highest peak is Mount Muztagh at 25,338 feet tall. Much of the Kunlun Mountains have rocky desert conditions, which makes it difficult for plants and animals to thrive.

Tibetan gazelle, Tibetan goat antelope, wild yaks, argali sheep, blue sheep, and ibex can be sporadically found throughout the range. In areas with more rainfall, brown bears, wolves, and snow leopards can be found.5 Qinghai Golmud Kunlun Mountain National Park gives a wonderful introduction to this mountain range.

himalayan mountainHimalayas

The Himalayas span approximately 1,500 miles and pass through India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and China. This mountain range is actually made up of three different ranges known as the Lesser Himalayas, the Greater Himalayas, and the Outer Himalayas.

The highest peak is Mount Everest at a whopping 29,029 feet. Although many people think of Mount Everest when they think of the Himalayas, this particular range also contains grasslands, shrublands, coniferous forests, temperate forests, and even tropical forests.

Because of the diversity in ecosystems, many different animals thrive in the Himalayas. Snow leopards, tahrs, musk deer, pikas, red pandas, golden langur monkeys, elephants, and tigers can all be found.6

Europe

The five largest mountain ranges in Europe are the Scandinavian Mountains, the Carpathian Mountains, the Alps, the Caucasus Mountains, and the Apennine Mountains.

scandes mountainsScandinavian Mountains

The Scandinavian Mountains are sometimes referred to as the Scandes and span 1,095 miles through the Scandinavian Peninsula. Although the mountains are not known for being very high, they are very steep. The highest peak is Galdhøpiggen in southern Norway at 8,100 feet.7

This mountain range is known for its very harsh winters, making it difficult for mammals to survive throughout the year. Some animals can be found in these mountains are lynx, arctic fox, red fox, wolverine, elk, reindeer, and mountain hare. Although higher altitudes are devoid of any trees, the valleys are filled with pine, spruce, aspen, rowan, alder, birch, and juniper trees.8

Carpathian MountainsCarpathian Mountains

The Carpathian Mountains span Eastern and Central Europe for 900 miles. This particular range is separated into three different sections: the Eastern Carpathians, the Western Carpathians, and the Southern Carpathians. The highest peak is the Gerlachovský Štít at 8,711 feet.

The second largest virgin forest in all of Europe is located within these mountains, as well as a wide range of wildlife. Wolves, chamois, lynx, boars, marmots, and brown bears can all be found here.9 Many different national parks can be found around the Carpathian Mountains, including Retezat, Domogled-Valea Cernei, Nera Gorge-Beușnița, and Tatra.

swiss alpsThe Alps

The Alps are one of the world’s most well-known travel destinations and for good reason. This mountain range stretches 750 miles across eight European counties. It is the highest, largest, youngest and most densely populated mountain range in all of Europe.

The highest peak is Mont Blanc at 15,774 feet. Because of the range in climate, the Alps are home to over 30,000 different animal species and 13,000 plant species. Lush meadows, stunning woodlands, and rocky hillsides can all be found. Ecrins National Park can offer great wildlife viewing, with the potential to see ibex, marmots, chamois, lynx, and wolves. In the spring, the Alps are bursting with wildflowers.10

great dividing rangeAustralia

Great Dividing Range

Australia’s Great Dividing Range stretches over 2,000 miles across Eastern Australia and varies from tropical rainforests to alpine meadows to temperate woodlands. Many vulnerable and endangered species call this mountain range home, including the cassowary, koala, flying fox, mountain pygmy possum, and Leadbeater's possum.

The highest peak is Mount Kosciuszko at 7,310 feet, located in the area known as the Australian Alps.11 Both Blue Mountains National Park and Kanangra Boyd National Park offer great views of these mountains.

Atlas MountainsAfrica

Atlas Mountains

Africa’s Atlas Mountains span approximately 1,600 miles across Northwestern Africa, going through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The Atlas Mountains consist of four different regions. The first—which includes the High Atlas, Middle Atlas, and the Anti-Atlas, is located completely in Morocco.

The other regions are the Saharan Atlas in Algeria, the Tell Atlas between Algeria and Tunisia, and the Aures Mountains at the eastern end. These mountains were once home to the now-extinct Atlas bear, the only bear native to Africa. Nowadays, leopards, lions, sheep, badgers, stags, vipers and many different birds can be found living in the Atlas mountains. Toubkal is the highest mountain in the range at 13,671 feet tall.12

Conclusion

Mountain regions are so much more than just large, imposing peaks, and glacial climates. The flora, fauna, and climate of mountains vary greatly across the globe. Whether you are interested in icy peaks or lush vegetation, there are so many different mountain ranges to explore. If you can’t find your way out to the mountains soon enough, you can breathe nature through Mountain, Ocean or Forest.

Photo credits:  VolodymyrMartyniuk/shutterstock.com,  bjul/shutterstock.com,  digidreamgrafix/shutterstock.com,  GaryC.Tognoni/shutterstock.com,  PavelSvobodaPhotography/shutterstock.com,  HelloRFZcool/shutterstock.com,  OlgaDanylenko/shutterstock.com,  KotenkoOleksandr/shutterstock.com,  GasparJanos/shutterstock.com,  gevision/shutterstock.com,  totajla/shutterstock.com,  saiko3p/shutterstock.com

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