Common menu bar links

Northern Coast Mountains


Northern Coast Mountains


LOCKED IN THE ICE AGE:

The highest mountains in Canada, the largest non-polar icefields, the fastest, longest, glaciers. This is a land in flux, a young land, a land still in the throes of creation. Volcanoes have been at work here making moutains; glaciers and rivers are carrying them away. Flowing in slow-motion, glaciers move vast amounts of pulverized rock down the valleys, sculpting the landscape. Glaciers spawn rivers opaque with silt, rivers moving mountains.

   Mount Logan, Kluane National Park Reserve
Mount Logan, Kluane National Park Reserve
© Parks Canada

THE LAND:

Mountains and glaciers - these are the essence of this region. Mount Logan, Canada's highest point at 5,951 metres, towers over the massive St. Elias range. The Boundary Ranges, running north-south along the Alaska panhandle, the second major mountain system making up this region, are no less spectacular. These two mountain ranges spawn thousands of glaciers. They spill down the valleys from the massive icefields. Over 2000 glaciers are found in Kluane National Park Reserver alone. These are classic valley glaciers - some over 100 kilometres long - sinuously striped in black and white by gravel moraines.

The effects of the most recent Ice Age have not been dulled by erosion or hidden by vegetation. It is as if the ice sheets retreated yesterday. Broad U-shaped valleys, hanging valleys, cirques and other glacial landforms are evidence of their passing.

Lowell Glacier, Alsek River
Lowell Glacier, Alsek River
© Parks Canada

This region has some of Canada's most spectacular rivers. The Tatshenshini, the Alsek, the lower reaches of the Stikine - these and other wild, unfettered rivers provide breath-taking scenery and thrills for wilderness adventures.

VEGETATION:

The vegetation of this region is a composite of species from the coast, the western mountains, the boreal forest, the Artic and the northern praries, tentatively poking up the valleys toward the glaciers and icefields. The coast forest of stately western hemlock and sitka spruce intrudes from the west; the boreal forest of sharp-pointed spruce marches up the glacier-carved valleys from the east. Alpine tundra and meadows, a complex mosaic of grasses, herbs, shrubs and dwarf trees adapted to a brief growing seas on and frequent snow throughout the year, prevail at higher elevations. In September, aspen brighten the mountain flanks with sheets of brilliant yellow.


National Parks System Plan, 3rd Edition

PreviousTable of contentsNext