Not so much a one-off destination as a travel category in its own right, North America's immense Rocky Mountain range is spoken about in hallowed terms - and for good reason.

The mountains rampage for some 3,000 miles across a huge swathe of the continent, stretching from Canada's British Columbia in the north to the US state of New Mexico in the south.

The belt is at times 300 miles wild and is rarely anything less than spectacular, its hulking peaks and wooded slopes consistently providing momentous scenery. The human history of the Rockies is bound up in tales of fur traders and intrepid explorers, while the millions of contemporary visitors who come calling each year are attracted by the opportunities for hiking, skiing, sight-seeing and other pursuits.

Tourist hotspots are found all along the range. Among the most visited national parks are Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain in the US and Banff and Jasper in Canada.

Where is it?
The Rockies run for more than 3,000 miles from British Columbia in Canada to New Mexico in the US.

What is it?
A mighty mountain range formed more than 50 million years ago.

Best time to visit?
Summer is excellent for hiking and general sight-seeing, while winter draws skiers and snowboarders.

Must see?
The Canadian Rockies are beautiful, and the scenic drive along the Icefields Parkway - running between Lake Louise and Jasper - is considered one of the world's finest.

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Rocky Mountains, North America