Where Are the Coast Ranges Located in North America?


Quick Answer

The Coast Ranges encompass a number of mountain ranges along the West Coast of North America, extending from Southeast Alaska through Western Canada to Baja California. Part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Coast Ranges were formed through multiple stages of tectonic activity over the last 115 million years.

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Where Are the Coast Ranges Located in North America?
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Full Answer

The Saint Elias Mountains, extending through Southeast Alaska and Southwest Yukon, have the highest elevation within the Coast Ranges. A submerged portion of the ranges forms the many islands off of Southeast Alaska and British Columbia.

Compared to the Appalachian Mountains in the east, the Coast Range mountains are young and geologically rugged, not yet having been worn down by years of erosion and weather. To the north of San Francisco, lush humid forests cover the ranges, while to the south of San Francisco, the climate is much drier and the terrain primarily contains brush and grass. Earthquakes and volcanic activity occur across the Coast Ranges as tectonic plates collide.

Economic activity in the Coast Ranges centers around resource gathering, such as mining and lumbering. However, there is also a significant tourism industry across many of the ranges in both Canada and the United States, along with many protected wildlife areas.

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