© Marty Urbanovsky

Southern Rockies

Basic Facts about Southern Rockies

When you picture the mountains of the American west, what likely comes to mind is an image of the Southern Rocky Mountains, which sweep down out of the north into Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico.

The Southern Rockies is the highest region of North America—most of it is above 10,000 feet in elevation. It is home to the highest mountain points in all of the Rockies, and is world renowned for its aspen forests, which provide essential wildlife habitat. The region also contains high elevation sagebrush habitats in intermountain valleys, and the headwaters for some of the west’s major river systems, including the Colorado, Rio Grande, Arkansas and Platte Rivers.

Abundant wildlife live in the Southern Rockies, including black bears, mule deer and huge herds of elk. The region is also home to many imperiled species, including Gunnison sage-grouse, lynx, boreal toad, Gunnison’s prairie dog, Uncompahgre fritillary butterfly and native trout. Properly managed, the region’s wild lands also still offer excellent potential to restore species that once lived here, but were wiped out in the 1900s, including imperiled wolverines and both gray and Mexican gray wolves (a subspecies of gray wolf).  

In addition to wildlife, the Southern Rockies are also vital to maintaining a healthy environment that provides people throughout the region and far beyond with clean air, clean water and tremendous opportunities for recreation. Local and regional economies prosper from the region’s natural resources, ecological services and scenic beauty.