The Rocky Mountain Trench, also known as The Valley of a Thousand Peaks or simply the Trench, is a large valley in the northern part of the Rocky Mountains. It is both visually and cartographically a striking physiographic feature extending approximately 1,600 km (990 mi) from Flathead Lake, Montana, to the Liard River, just south of the British Columbia-Yukon border near Watson Lake, Yukon. The trench bottom is 3-to-16 km (2–10 miles) wide and ranges from 600–to-900 metres (2,000–3,000 feet) above sea level. The general orientation of the Trench is an almost uniform 150/330 degree geographic north vector which has also become convenient for north/south aviators.
Although some of its topography has been carved into glacial valleys, it is primarily a by-product of faulting. The Trench separates the Rocky Mountains on its east from the Columbia Mountains and the Cassiar Mountains on its west. It also skirts part of the McGregor Plateau area of the Nechako Plateau sub-area of the Interior Plateau of British Columbia. It is up to 25 km wide, if measured peak-to-peak, and varies in valley relief, but is clearly visible from the air, satellite/remote sensing and is commonly discernible to those ascending any of the mountains or ridges lining it.
It is drained by four major river basins: the Columbia, Fraser, Peace and Liard. Two reservoirs of the Columbia River Treaty fill much of its length today - Lake Koocanusa and Lake Kinbasket. A further British Columbia power initiative created Lake Williston. Rivers that follow the Trench, at least in part, are the Kootenay River, the Columbia River, Canoe River, the Flathead River, Fraser River, Parsnip River, Finlay River, Fox River, and the Kechika River. The North Fork of the Flathead River, flowing into Flathead Lake with the other branches of the Flathead River, is part of the Columbia River system. The Kechika is part of the Liard River system, and the Fox, Parsnip and Finlay Rivers and part of the Peace River system. The Canoe River is a short tributary of the Columbia system, draining into Kinbasket Lake, a reservoir on the Columbia River. The Kootenai River, however, does not fully follow the Trench but exits Canada southwest via Lake Koocanusa reservoir to the Libby Dam. The Kootenay (Canadian spelling) River is a tributary of the Columbia, joining the Columbia at Castlegar, BC after a meander through the USA as the Kootenai River (US spelling).
For convenience the Rocky Mountain Trench may be divided into two sections - being the Northern Rocky Mountain Trench and Southern Rocky Mountain Trench. The dividing point reflects the separation of north and easterly flows to the Arctic Ocean versus south and westerly flows to the Pacific Ocean. A break in the valley system at ~54°N near Prince George, British Columbia may be used for this purpose. The northern portion of the Trench is dominated by strike-slip faulting while the southern part of the Trench was created by normal faults. Despite differences in timing and faulting styles of the northern and southern portions, they were aligned with each other because faulting for both was controlled by a pre-existing, west-facing, deep basement ramp with over 10 km of vertical offset.
Other articles related to "rocky mountain trench, trench, rocky mountains":
... Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) also constructed a spur line which extends northward up the southern Trench between Cranbrook and Golden ... The Southern Trench is also known for a number of ski resorts in the trench or in the nearby tributary valleys ...
... The Columbia River begins at Columbia Lake, flows north in the Rocky Mountain Trench through the Columbia Valley to Windermere Lake to Golden, BC ... The Kootenay River flows south from the Rocky Mountains, then west into the Rocky Mountain Trench, coming within just over a mile from Columbia Lake, at a point called Canal Flats, where a shipping canal was built ... The Kootenay then flows south down the Rocky Mountain Trench, crosses the international border and then turns north back into Canada and into Kootenay Lake near the town of Creston, BC ...
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