Passing Storm Clouds Lift to Reveal a Colorful Arctic Valley, Alaska Range

The Alaska Range is a relatively narrow, 650-km-long (400 mi) mountain range in the southcentral region of the U.S. state of Alaska, from Lake Clark at its southwest end to the White River in Canada’s Yukon Territory in the southeast. The highest mountain in North America, Denali (or Mount McKinley), is in the Alaska Range.

The range is the highest in the world outside of Asia and the Andes

The range forms a generally east-west arc with its northernmost part in the center, and from there trending southwest towards the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians, and trending southeast into the Pacific Coast Ranges. The mountains act as a high barrier to the flow of moist air from the Gulf of Alaska northwards, and thus has some of the harshest weather in the world. The heavy snowfall also contributes to a number of large glaciers, including the Canwell, Castner, Black Rapids, Susitna, Yanert, Muldrow, Eldridge, Ruth, Tokositna, and Kahiltna Glaciers. Four major rivers cross the Range, including the Delta River, and Nenana River in the center of the range and the Nabesna and Chisana Rivers to the east.
Alaska Range Glacier

The range is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, and the Denali Fault that runs along the southern edge of the range is responsible for a number of earthquakes. Mount Spurr is a stratovolcano located in the northeastern end of the Aleutian Volcanic Arc of Alaska, USA which has two vents, the summit and nearby Crater Peak.

Parts of the range are protected within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Denali National Park and Preserve, and Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. The George Parks Highway from Anchorage to Fairbanks, the Richardson Highway from Valdez to Fairbanks, and the Tok Cut-Off from Gulkana Junction to Tok, Alaska pass through low parts of the range. The Alaska Pipeline parallels the Richardson Highway.

The name “Alaskan Range” appears to have been first applied to these mountains in 1869 by naturalist W. H. Dall. The name eventually became “Alaska Range” through local use. In 1849 Constantin Grewingk applied the name “Tschigmit” to this mountain range. A map made by the General Land Office in 1869 calls the southwestern part of the Alaska Range the “Chigmit Mountains” and the northeastern part the “Beaver Mountains”.However the Chigmit Mountains are now considered part of the Aleutian Range.

Passing Storm Clouds Lift to Reveal a Colorful Arctic Valley, Alaska Range

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