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wapiti wap·i·ti (wŏp'ĭ-tē)
n. wapiti or -tis
A large light brown or grayish-brown North American deer (Cervus canadensis) having long, branching antlers. Also called American elk, elk.

[Shawnee waapiti.]

Word Origins
Directory > Words > International Word Origins > wapiti wapiti
from Shawnee
This word originated in United States

The elk and its ilk are easy to confuse. What we call elk in North America is different from what our language calls elk in Europe, which is the same as the North American moose. Confusing? That is how wapiti came to be an English word, to distinguish the American elk from the quite different European one. Naturalist Benjamin S. Barton did the honors in 1806: "As the [American] Elk has not to my knowledge been described by any systematic writer on Zoology, I have assumed the liberty of giving it a specific name. I have called it Wapiti, which is the name by which it is known among the Shawnees or Shawnese Indians."

The name wapiti also has the advantage of being plain and descriptive, at least in its native language. In Shawnee, wapiti is said to mean "white rump," a distinguishing feature of the American elk. The Indian name is also a reminder that the vast herds of these animals that formerly populated North America were important renewable resources for the Indian inhabitants. Wapiti were hunted not only for their meat but for their hides, their bones, their antlers, and even their teeth. The hides made moccasins, robes, shields, and the walls of tepees. Bones and antlers made weapons and game pieces. Wapiti teeth made necklaces and decorations for clothes.

In later times, with destruction of their habitat and intensive hunting, wapiti were driven nearly to extinction by the English-speaking population of North America. But conservation laws and regulated hunting have made them abundant again. Elk (or wapiti) farming is also increasing the population.

Aside from the products already mentioned, wapiti are a source of velvet, the soft tissue of new antlers of adult males. According to a company that sells it, "Velvet antler has been used for centuries in strengthening the skeletal, circulatory and endocrine systems. Velvet antler has been shown to increase mental capacity, help PMS, impotence, and stress reduction."

Shawnee is another of the languages in the Algonquian-Ritwan family, belonging to the central branch. In Oklahoma there are still about two hundred speakers of Shawnee. Wapiti is the one Shawnee word that has found itself a place in English.



Directory > Reference > Britannica Concise > wapiti wapiti

Male wapiti (Cervus canadensis). (credit: Alan Carey)Species (Cervus canadensis) of North American deer, often considered the same species as the red deer. Once common, the wapiti is now confined to the Rocky Mountains and southern Canada. It is the second-largest living deer species (the moose is first). Males may stand taller than 5 ft (1.5 m) at the shoulder and weigh up to 1,100 lbs (500 kg). The coat is brown, pale on the rump, and long and shaggy on the shoulders and neck. The male's five-tined antlers tower almost 4 ft (1.2 m) above his head. Wapiti live in large bands in winter and in small groups in summer. See also elk.
For more information on wapiti, visit Britannica.com.



Directory > Reference > Encyclopedia > wapiti wapiti (wŏp'ĭtē) , large North American deer, Cervus canadensis, closely related to the Old World red deer. It is commonly called elk in America although the name elk is used in Europe to refer to the moose. The wapiti is grayish brown, with a chestnut mane and yellowish rump patch and short tail. It is the largest of the deer family besides the moose; the male stands up to 5 ft (150 cm) at the shoulder and weighs up to 1,000 lb (450 kg). The male has antlers with 5 or more points on each branch and up to a 5-ft (150-cm) spread.
Once abundant throughout temperate North America, the wapiti was slaughtered for food, leather, and sport and for its canine teeth (used as charms). It was completely exterminated in the E United States and reduced in numbers elsewhere, but since the early 1900s small populations have been introduced in the East. Several varieties now exist, mostly under protection in national parks and wildlife refuges. Two of these are the Rocky Mountain elk, found from N Mexico to central Alberta and used in eastern restoration efforts, and the Roosevelt, or Olympic, elk, found in forests of the Pacific coastal belt from British Columbia to N California.

Related to the wapiti is the dwarf, or tule elk, C. nannodes, a small, light-colored deer of E California. The Old World red deer, C. elaphus, is smaller than the wapiti; males stand about 4 ft (120 cm) at the shoulder and have antlers up to 4 ft (120 cm) long. Its coat is reddish brown. It is found in wooded areas throughout the cold and temperate portions of Eurasia and in N Africa. Several other species of the genus Cervus are found in Asia. The sambar, C. unicolor, is a large brown deer of SE Asia.

Members of the genus Cervus and other deer are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Cervidae.



IN BRIEF: n. - Large North American deer with large much-branched antlers

The noun American elk has one meaning:

Meaning #1: large North American deer with large much-branched antlers
Synonyms: wapiti, Cervus canadensis



American elk wawaskeesh
Wapiti Lake Provincial Park elk
Smoky (river, Canada) Wrangler Lake
Wapiti Pass Grande Prairie Smoky
Yoho National Park (North America) Central Flying School SAAF



Dictionary definition of wapiti
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2004, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. More from Dictionary
Word Origins information about wapiti
The World in So Many Words, by Allan A. Metcalf. Copyright © 1999 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. More from Word Origins
Britannica information about wapiti
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994-2006 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. All rights reserved. More from Britannica
Encyclopedia information about wapiti
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition Copyright © 2003, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/ More from Encyclopedia
Word Tutor information about wapiti
Copyright © 2004-present by eSpindle Learning, a 501(c) nonprofit organization. All rights reserved.
eSpindle provides personalized spelling and vocabulary tutoring online; free trial. More from Word Tutor
WordNet information about wapiti
WordNet 1.7.1 Copyright © 2001 by Princeton University. All rights reserved. More from WordNet

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Rocky Mountains

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation , search "Rockies" redirects here. Rockies may also refer to the American Major League Baseball team, the Colorado Rockies . For the former National Hockey League team, see Colorado Rockies (NHL) . White Goat Wilderness Area, Alberta , Canada View of the Rocky Mountains as depicted on the Colorado state quarter The Rocky Mountains , often called the Rockies , are a broad mountain range in western North America . The Rocky Mountains stretch more than 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers ) from British Columbia , in Canada , to New Mexico , in the United States . The highest peak is Mount Elbert , in Colorado , which is 14,440 feet (4,401 meters ) above sea level . Mount Robson , at 12,972 feet (3,954 meters) is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies . The Rocky Mountain System is a United States physiographic region .

In the United States, the more impressive rises above the Great Plains includes the Front Range from northern Colorado to northern New Mexico, in Wyoming along the Wind River Range and Big Horn Mountains , and in Montana with the Crazy Mountains and along the Rocky Mountain Front which extends into extreme southwestern Alberta, Canada . The Wasatch Range near Salt Lake City, Utah divides the Great Basin from the mountains in the west.


[ hide ] 1 Geography and geology

2 Human history

3 Industry and development

4 Tourism

5 Climate

6 References

7 See also

8 External links



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Geography and geology

Teton Range in Grand Teton National Park , Wyoming The Rocky Mountains are commonly defined to stretch from the Liard River in British Columbia, down to the Rio Grande in New Mexico. The mountains can also be considered to run all the way to Alaska or Mexico , but usually those mountains are considered to be part of the entire American cordillera , rather than part of the Rockies.

The younger ranges of the Rocky Mountains uplifted during the late Cretaceous period (140 million-65 million years ago), although some portions of the southern mountains date from uplifts during the Precambrian (3,980 million-600 million years ago). The mountains' geology is a complex of igneous and metamorphic rock ; younger sedimentary rock occurs along the margins of the southern Rocky Mountains, and volcanic rock from the Tertiary (65 million-1.8 million years ago) occurs in the San Juan Mountains and in other areas. Millennia of severe erosion in the Wyoming Basin transformed intermountain basins into a relatively flat terrain. The Tetons and other north-central ranges contain folded and faulted rocks of Paleozoic and Mesozoic age draped above cores of Proterozoic and Archean igneous and metamorphic rocks ranging in age from 1.2 billion (e.g., Tetons) to more than 3.3 billion years ( Beartooth Mountains ) (Peterson 1986; Knight 1994).

Periods of glaciation occurred from the Pleistocene Epoch (1.8 million-70,000 years ago) to the Holocene Epoch (fewer than 11,000 years ago). Recent episodes included the Bull Lake Glaciation that began about 150,000 years ago and the Pinedale Glaciation that probably remained at full glaciation until 15,000-20,000 years ago (Pierce 1979). Ninety percent of Yellowstone National Park was covered by ice during the Pinedale Glaciation (Knight 1994). The "little ice age" was a period of glacial advance that lasted a few centuries from about 1550 to 1860. For example, the Agassiz and Jackson glaciers in Glacier National Park reached their most forward positions about 1860 during the little ice age (Grove 1990).

Water in its many forms sculpted the present Rocky Mountain landscape (Athearn 1960). Runoff and snowmelt from the peaks feed Rocky Mountain rivers and lakes with the water supply for one-quarter of the United States. The rivers that flow from the Rocky Mountains eventually drain into three of the world's Oceans : the Atlantic Ocean , the Pacific Ocean , and the Arctic Ocean . These rivers include:

Map showing approximate location of the Rocky Mountains. Arkansas River

Athabasca River

Clark Fork River

Colorado River

Columbia River

Fraser River

Kootenay River

Missouri River

Peace River

Platte River

Rio Grande

Saskatchewan River

Snake River

Yellowstone River


The Continental Divide is located in the Rocky Mountains and designates the line at which waters flow either to the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. Triple Divide Peak (8020 feet/2444 m) in Glacier National Park (US) is so named due to the fact that water which falls on the mountain reaches not only the Atlantic and Pacific, but the Arctic Ocean as well.

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Human history

Since the last great Ice Age, the Rocky Mountains were home first to Paleo-Indians and then to the Native American tribes of the Apache , Arapaho , Bannock , Blackfoot , Cheyenne , Crow . Flathead , Shoshoni , Sioux , Ute , and others (Johnson 1994). Paleo-Indians hunted the now-extinct mammoth and ancient bison (an animal 20% larger than modern bison) in the foothills and valleys of the mountains. Like the modern tribes that followed them, Paleo-Indians probably migrated to the plains in fall and winter for bison and to the mountains in spring and summer for fish , deer , elk , roots , and berries . In Colorado, along the crest of the Continental Divide, rock walls that Native Americans built for driving game date back 5,400-5,800 years (Buchholtz 1983). A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that Native Americans had significant effects on mammal populations by hunting and on vegetation patterns through deliberate burning (Kay 1994).

Recent human history of the Rocky Mountains is one of more rapid change (Lavender 1975; Knight 1994). The Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado — with a group of soldiers, missionaries, and African slaves — marched into the Rocky Mountain region from the south in 1540 . The introduction of the horse, metal tools, rifles, new diseases, and different cultures profoundly changed the Native American cultures. Native American populations were extirpated from most of their historical ranges by disease, warfare, habitat loss (eradication of the bison), and continued assaults on their culture.

Colorado Rockies Sir Alexander MacKenzie (1764 - March 11, 1820) became the first European to cross the Rocky Mountains in 1793. He found the upper reaches of the Fraser River and reached what is now the Pacific coast of Canada on July 20 of that year, completing the first recorded transcontinental crossing of North America north of Mexico. He arrived at Bella Coola, British Columbia, where he first reached saltwater at South Bentinck Arm, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean.

The Lewis and Clark expedition (1804-1806) was the first scientific reconnaissance of the Rocky Mountains. Specimens were collected for contemporary botanists, zoologists, and geologists (Jackson 1962). The expedition was said to have paved the way to (and through) the Rocky Mountains for European-Americans from the East, although Lewis and Clark met at least 11 European-American mountain men during their travels.

Mountain men, primarily French, Spanish, and British roamed the Rocky Mountains from 1720 to 1800 seeking mineral deposits and furs. The fur-trading Northwest Company established Rocky Mountain House as a trading post in what is now the Rocky Mountain foothills of Alberta in 1799, and their business rivals the Hudson's Bay Company established Acton House nearby. These posts served as bases for most European activity in the Canadian Rockies in the early 1800s, most notably the expeditions of David Thompson (explorer) , the first European to follow the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. After 1802, American fur traders and explorers ushered in the first widespread white presence in the Rockies south of the 49th parallel. The more famous of these include Americans included William Henry Ashley , Jim Bridger , Kit Carson , John Colter , Thomas Fitzpatrick , Andrew Henry , and Jedediah Smith . On July 24 , 1832 , Benjamin Bonneville led the first wagon train across the Rocky Mountains by using Wyoming 's South Pass.

The Mormons began to settle near the Great Salt Lake in 1847 . In 1859 , gold was discovered near Cripple Creek, Colorado , and the regional economy of the Rocky Mountains was changed forever. The transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, and Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872. While settlers filled the valleys and mining towns, conservation and preservation ethics began to take hold. President Harrison established several forest reserves in the Rocky Mountains in 1891-1892. In 1905 , President Theodore Roosevelt extended the Medicine Bow Forest Reserve to include the area now managed as Rocky Mountain National Park (Buchholtz 1983). Economic development began to center on mining , forestry , agriculture , and recreation , as well as on the service industries that support them (Lavender 1975). Tents and camps became ranches and farms, forts and train stations became towns, and some towns became cities.

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Industry and development

Economic resources of the Rocky Mountains are varied and abundant. Minerals found in the Rocky Mountains include significant deposits of copper , gold , lead , molybdenum , silver , tungsten , and zinc . The Wyoming Basin and several smaller areas contain significant reserves of coal , natural gas , oil shale , and petroleum . For example, the Climax mine, located near Leadville, Colorado , was the largest producer of Molybdenum in the world. Molybdenum is used in heat-resistant steel in such things as cars and planes. The Climax mine employed over 3,000 workers. The Coeur d'Alene mine of northern Idaho produces silver, lead, and zinc. Canada's largest coal mines are in the Crowsnest Pass near Sparwood, British Columbia and Elkford, British Columbia ; additional coal mines exist near Hinton, Alberta .

Colorado Rockies from space Abandoned mines with their wakes of mine tailings and toxic wastes dot the Rocky Mountain landscape. In one major example, eighty years of zinc mining profoundly polluted the river and bank near Eagle River in north-central Colorado. High concentrations of the metal carried by spring runoff harmed algae , moss , and trout populations. An economic analysis of mining effects at this site revealed declining property values, degraded water quality, and the loss of recreational opportunities. The analysis also revealed that cleanup of the river could yield $2.3 million in additional revenue from recreation. In 1983 , the former owner of the zinc mine was sued by the Colorado Attorney General for the $4.8 million cleanup costs; 5 years later, ecological recovery was considerable (Brandt 1993). Agriculture and forestry are major industries. Agriculture includes dryland and irrigated farming and livestock grazing. Livestock are frequently moved between high-elevation summer pastures and low-elevation winter pastures, a practice known as transhumance .

Human population is not very dense in the Rocky Mountains, with an average of four people per square kilometer (10 per square mile) and few cities with over 50,000 people. However, the human population grew rapidly in the Rocky Mountain states between 1950 and 1990. The 40-year statewide increases in population range from 35% in Montana to about 150% in Utah and Colorado. The populations of several mountain towns and communities have doubled in the last 40 years. Jackson Hole, Wyoming , increased 260%, from 1,244 to 4,472 residents, in 40 years.

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Every year the scenic areas and recreational opportunities of the Rocky Mountains draw millions of tourists. The main language of the Rocky Mountains is English . But there are also linguistic pockets of Spanish and Native American languages.

People from all over the world visit the sites to hike, camp, or engage in mountain sports. In the summer, main tourist attractions are

Snowmelt runoff fills a reservoir in the Rocky Mountains near Dillon, Colorado . Pikes Peak

Royal Gorge

Rocky Mountain National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Glacier National Park (U.S.)


Canadian National Parks in the mountain range are

Banff National Park

Jasper National Park

Kootenay National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park

Yoho National Park


Glacier National Park (U.S.) and Waterton Lakes National Park border each other on the U.S./Canadian border and collectively are known as the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park . (See also International Peace Park .)

In the winter, skiing is the main attraction. The major ski resorts are:

Snowpack accumulation at 14,255 ft. on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park (photo courtesy of USDA). Colorado : Aspen




Winter Park



Utah : Alta


Park City




Idaho : Sun Valley



Montana : Big Mountain

Big Sky



Alberta : Lake Louise

Sunshine Village



British Columbia : Fernie



Wyoming : Jackson Hole Ski Resort

Grand Targhee




The adjacent Columbia Mountains in British Columbia and Idaho contain major resorts such as Schweitzer , Panorama and Kicking Horse .

See also: List of U.S. Rocky Mountain ski resorts , List of Alberta ski resorts , List of B.C. ski resorts

[ edit ]


Aerial view of the Colorado Rocky Mountains in summer

Aerial view of the Colorado Rocky Mountains in winter

The Rocky Mountains have a highland climate. The average temperature in the Rockies per year is 43 °F (6 °C). July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 82 °F (28 °C). In January, the average monthly temperature is 7 °F (-14 °C), making it the coldest month in the Rockies. The average precipitation per year is approximately 14 inches (360 mm).

The summers in the Rockies are warm and dry, because the western fronts impede the advancing of water-carrying storm systems. The average temperature in summer is 59 °F (15 °C) and the average precipitation is 5.9 inches (150 mm). Winter is usually wet and very cold, with an average temperature of 28 °F (-2 °C) and average snowfall of 11.4 inches (29.0 cm). In spring, the average temperature is 40 °F (4 °C) and the average precipitation is 4.2 inches (107 mm). And in the fall, the average precipitation is 2.6 inches (66 mm) and the average temperature is 44 °F (7 °C).

The Rocky Mountains prevent the Wasatch Front metropolitan area of Utah from expanding eastward.



[ edit ]


Athearn, R. G. 1960. High country empire: the High Plains and Rocky Mountains. McGraw-Hill, New York. 358 pp.

Brandt, E. 1993. How much is a gray wolf worth? National Wildlife 31:4­12.

Buchholtz, C. W. 1983. Rocky Mountain National Park: a history. Colorado Associated University Press, Boulder. 255 pp.

Grove, J. M. 1990. The little ice age. Rutledge Press, New York. 498 pp.

Jackson, D. 1962. Letters of the Lewis and Clark expedition with related documents 1783­1854. University of Illinois Press, Urbana. 728 pp.

Kay, C. E. 1994. Aboriginal overkill. Human Nature 5:359­398.

Lavender, D. 1975. The Rockies. Harper and Row, New York. 433 pp.

Knight, D. H. 1994. Mountains and plains: the ecology of Wyoming landscapes. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn. 338 pp.

Peterson, J. A., editor. 1986. Paleotectonics and sedimentation in the Rocky Mountain Region, United States. Memoir 41, American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Tulsa, Okla. 693 pp.

Pierce, K. L. 1979. History and dynamics of glaciation in the northern Yellowstone National Park area. Professional Paper 729-F. U.S. Geological Survey, Washington, D.C. 90 pp


[ edit ]

See also

Canadian Rockies



[ edit ]

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Rocky Mountains USGS Biology web site about Rocky Mountains (public domain source)

U.S. Geological Survey website on the Rocky Mountains

Blue Planet Biomes - Rocky Mountains

Headwaters News - Headwaters News - Reporting on the Rockies

Colorado Rockies Forests ecoregion images at bioimages.vanderbilt.edu ( slow modem version )

North Central Rockies Forests ecoregion images at bioimages.vanderbilt.edu ( slow modem version )

South Central Rockies Forests ecoregion images at bioimages.vanderbilt.edu ( slow modem version )


Colorado River system Dams and aqueducts (see US Bureau of Reclamation ) Shadow Mountain Dam | Granby Dam | Glen Canyon Dam | Hoover Dam | Davis Dam | Parker Dam | Palo Verde Diversion Dam | Imperial Dam | Laguna Dam | Morelos Dam | Colorado River Aqueduct | San Diego Aqueduct | Central Arizona Project Aqueduct | All-American Canal | Coachella Canal | Redwall Dam

Natural features Colorado River | Rocky Mountains | Colorado River Basin | Grand Lake | Sonoran desert | Mojave desert | Imperial Valley | Colorado Plateau | Grand Canyon | Glen Canyon | Marble Canyon | Paria Canyon | Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez | Salton Sea

Tributaries Dirty Devil River | Dolores River | Escalante River | Gila River | Green River | Gunnison River | Kanab River | Little Colorado River | Paria River | San Juan River | Virgin River

Major reservoirs Fontenelle Reservoir | Flaming Gorge Reservoir | Taylor Park Reservoir | Navajo Reservoir | Lake Powell | Lake Mead | Lake Havasu

Dependent states Arizona | California | Colorado | Nevada | New Mexico | Utah (See: Colorado River Compact )

Designated areas Glen Canyon National Recreation Area | Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Retrieved from " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Mountains " Categories : Rocky Mountains | Mountain ranges of Canada | Mountain ranges of the United States | Archaeological sites in the United States