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The FRONT RANGE is a mountain range of the Southern Rocky Mountains of North America located in the central portion of the U.S. State of Colorado
Colorado
, and southeastern portion of the U.S. State of Wyoming
Wyoming
. It is the first mountain range encountered moving west along the 40th parallel north across the Great Plains
Great Plains
of North America. The Front Range runs north-south between Casper, Wyoming
Wyoming
and Pueblo, Colorado and rises nearly 10,000 feet above the Great Plains. Longs Peak
Longs Peak
, Mount Evans , and Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak
are its most prominent peaks, visible from the Interstate 25
Interstate 25
corridor. The area is a popular destination for mountain biking, hiking, climbing, and camping during the warmer months and for skiing and snowboarding during winter. Millions of years ago the present-day Front Range
Front Range
was home to ancient mountain ranges, deserts, beaches, and even oceans.

The name "Front Range" is also applied to the Front Range
Front Range
Urban Corridor , the populated region of Colorado
Colorado
and Wyoming
Wyoming
just east of the mountain range and extending from Cheyenne, Wyoming
Wyoming
south to Pueblo, Colorado
Colorado
. This urban corridor benefits from the weather-moderating effect of the Front Range
Front Range
mountains, which help block prevailing storms.

CONTENTS

* 1 Geology

* 1.1 Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak
Granite * 1.2 Fountain formation * 1.3 Lyons Sandstone * 1.4 Lykins Formation * 1.5 Morrison Formation
Morrison Formation
* 1.6 Dakota Sandstone * 1.7 Pierre Shale * 1.8 Denver
Denver
Formation * 1.9 Castle Rock Conglomerate * 1.10 Quaternary deposits

* 2 Prominent peaks * 3 Travel through the Front Range
Front Range
* 4 See also * 5 References * 6 Further reading * 7 External links

GEOLOGY

Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak
and Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods
. Sandstone slabs along the eastern edge of the front range

PIKES PEAK GRANITE

About 1 billion years ago, the earth was producing massive amounts of molten rock that would one day amalgamate , drift together and combine, to ultimately form the continents we live on today. In the Colorado
Colorado
region, this molten rock spewed and cooled, forming what we now know as the Precambrian
Precambrian
Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak
Granite. Over the next 500 million years, little is known about changes in the sedimentation (sediment deposition) after the granite was produced. However, at about 500 – 300 million years ago, the region began to sink and sediments began to deposit in the newly formed accommodation space. Eroded granite produced sand particles that began to form strata, layers of sediment, in the sinking basin. Sedimentation
Sedimentation
would continue to take place until about 300 million years ago.

FOUNTAIN FORMATION

Around 300 million years ago, the sinking suddenly reversed, and the sediment-covered granite began to uplift , giving rise to the Ancestral Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
. Over the next 150 million years, during uplift the mountains would continue to erode and cover themselves in their own sediment. Wind, gravity, rainwater, snow, and ice-melt supplied rivers that ultimately carved through the granite mountains and eventually led to their end. The sediment from these mountains lies in the Fountain Formation today. Red Rocks Amphitheater
Red Rocks Amphitheater
outside of Denver, Colorado, is actually set into the Fountain Formation.

LYONS SANDSTONE

At 280 million years ago, sea levels were low and present-day Colorado
Colorado
was part of the super-continent Pangaea
Pangaea
. Sand deserts covered most of the area spreading as dunes seen in the rock record, known today as the Lyons Sandstone. These dunes appear to be cross-bedded and show various fossil footprints and leaf imprints in many of the strata making up the section.

LYKINS FORMATION

30 million years later, the sediment deposition was still taking place with the introduction of the Lykins Formation. This formation can be best attributed to its wavy layers of muddy limestone and signs of stromatolites that thrived in a smelly tidal flat at present-day Colorado. 250 million years ago, the Ancestral Rockies were burying themselves while the shoreline was present during the break-up of Pangaea. This formation began right after Earth’s largest extinction 251 million years ago at the Permian
Permian
- Triassic
Triassic
Boundary. Ninety percent of the planet’s marine life was destroyed and a great deal on land as well.

MORRISON FORMATION

After 100 million years of deposition, a new environment brought rise to a new formation, the sandstone Morrison Formation
Morrison Formation
. The Morrison Formation contains some of the best fossils of the Late Jurassic
Jurassic
. It is especially known for its sauropod tracks and sauropod bones among other dinosaur fossils. As identified by the fossil record, the environment was filled with various types of vegetation such as ferns and Zamites . While this time period boasts many types of plants, grass had not yet evolved.

DAKOTA SANDSTONE

The Dakota Sandstone , which was deposited 100 million years ago towards Colorado’s eastern coast, shows evidence of ferns, and dinosaur tracks. Sheets of ripple marks can be seen on some of the strata, confirming the shallow-sea environment.

PIERRE SHALE

Over the next 30 million years, the region was finally taken over by a deep sea, the Cretaceous
Cretaceous
Western Interior Seaway
Western Interior Seaway
, and deposited mass amounts of shale over the area known as the Pierre Shale. Both the thick section of shale and the marine life fossils found (ammonites and skeletons of fish and such marine reptiles as mosasaurs , plesiosaurs , and extinct species of sea turtles , along with rare dinosaur and bird remains). Colorado
Colorado
eventually drained from being at the bottom of an ocean to land again, giving yield to another fossiliferous rock layer, the Denver
Denver
Formation. At about 68 million years ago, the Front Range
Front Range
began to rise again due to the Laramide Orogeny
Orogeny
in the west.

DENVER FORMATION

Front Range
Front Range
near Estes Park, Colorado
Colorado
.

The Denver
Denver
Formation contained fossils and bones from dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus
Tyrannosaurus
rex and Triceratops
Triceratops
. While the forests of vegetation, dinosaurs, and other organisms thrived, their reign would come to an end at the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary
Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary
(which is also known as the K-T boundary). In an instant, millions of species are obliterated from a meteor impact in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula
Yucatan Peninsula
. While this extinction led to the demise of the dinosaurs and other organisms, some life did prevail to repopulate the earth as it recovered from this tremendous disaster. The uplifted Front Range
Front Range
continued to constantly erode and, by 40 million years ago, the range was once again buried in its own rubble.

CASTLE ROCK CONGLOMERATE

Suddenly, 37 million years ago, a great volcanic eruption took place in the Collegiate Range and covered the landscape in molten hot ash that instantly torched and consumed everything across the landscape. An entire lush environment was capped in a matter of minutes with 20 feet of extremely resistant rock, rhyolite . However, as seen before, life rebounds, and after a few million years mass floods cut through the rhyolite and eroded much of it as plants and animals began to recolonize the landscape. The mass flooding and erosion of the volcanic rock gave way to the Castle Rock Conglomerate that can be found in the Front Range.

QUATERNARY DEPOSITS

Eventually, at about 10 million years ago, the Front Range
Front Range
began to rise up again and the resistant granite in the heart of the mountains thrust upwards and stood tall, while the weaker sediments deposited above it eroded away. As the Front Range
Front Range
rose, streams and recent (16,000 years ago) glaciations during the Quaternary age literally unburied the range by cutting through the weaker sediment and giving rise to the granitic peaks present today. This was the last step in forming the present-day geologic sequence and history of today’s Front Range. The Front Range
Front Range
as viewed from Greenwood Village south of Denver, Mount Evans is on the far right

PROMINENT PEAKS

The Front Range
Front Range
includes the highest peaks along the eastern edge of the Rockies. The highest mountain peak in the Front Range
Front Range
is Grays Peak . Other notable mountains include Torreys Peak , Mount Evans , Longs Peak
Longs Peak
, Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak
, and Mount Bierstadt . Longs Peak
Longs Peak
Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak
Mount Evans

The 20 Mountain Peaks of the Front Range
Front Range
With At Least 500 Meters of Topographic Prominence RANK MOUNTAIN PEAK SUBRANGE ELEVATION PROMINENCE ISOLATION

1 Grays Peak NGS Front Range 7003435200000000000♠14,278 ft 4352 m 7002844296000000000♠2,770 ft 844 m 7004402700000000000♠25.0 mi 40.3 km

2 Mount Evans NGS Front Range 7003434800000000000♠14,265 ft 4348 m 7002843991000000000♠2,769 ft 844 m 7004157600000000000♠9.79 mi 15.76 km

3 Longs Peak
Longs Peak
NGS Front Range 7003434600000000000♠14,259 ft 4346 m 7002896112000000000♠2,940 ft 896 m 7004701900000000000♠43.6 mi 70.2 km

4 Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak
NGS Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak
Massif 7003430231000000000♠14,115 ft 4302 m 7003168554400000000♠5,530 ft 1686 m 7004978200000000000♠60.8 mi 97.8 km

5 Mount Silverheels
Mount Silverheels
NGS PB Front Range 7003421500000000000♠13,829 ft 4215 m 7002695857999900000♠2,283 ft 696 m 7003882000000000000♠5.48 mi 8.82 km

6 Bald Mountain PB Front Range 7003417280500000000♠13,690 ft 4173 m 7002639775000000000♠2,099 ft 640 m 7004120900000000000♠7.51 mi 12.09 km

7 Bard Peak PB Front Range 7003415948400000000♠13,647 ft 4159 m 7002518465000000000♠1,701 ft 518 m 7003874000000000000♠5.43 mi 8.74 km

8 Hagues Peak NGS PB Mummy Range 7003413700000000000♠13,573 ft 4137 m 7002737616000000000♠2,420 ft 738 m 7004256200000000000♠15.92 mi 25.6 km

9 North Arapaho Peak PB Indian Peaks PB 7003411717199999999♠13,508 ft 4117 m 7002507492000000000♠1,665 ft 507 m 7004247800000000000♠15.40 mi 24.8 km

10 Parry Peak Front Range 7003408334000000000♠13,397 ft 4083 m 7002527609000000000♠1,731 ft 528 m 7004152200000000000♠9.46 mi 15.22 km

11 Mount Richthofen PB Front Range 7003394577000000000♠12,945 ft 3946 m 7002816864000000000♠2,680 ft 817 m 7004155400000000000♠9.66 mi 15.54 km

12 Specimen Mountain PB Front Range 7003380826100000000♠12,494 ft 3808 m 7002527609000000000♠1,731 ft 528 m 7003782000000000000♠4.86 mi 7.82 km

13 Bison Peak NGS PB Tarryall Mountains PB 7003378940000000000♠12,432 ft 3789 m 7002747065000000000♠2,451 ft 747 m 7004308000000000000♠19.14 mi 30.8 km

14 Waugh Mountain PB South Park Hills PB 7003357091000000000♠11,716 ft 3571 m 7002710184000000000♠2,330 ft 710 m 7004322200000000000♠20.0 mi 32.2 km

15 Black Mountain NGS PB South Park Hills PB 7003355050000000000♠11,649 ft 3551 m 7002680923000000000♠2,234 ft 681 m 7004129200000000000♠8.03 mi 12.92 km

16 Williams Peak NGS PB South Williams Fork Mountains PB 7003354180000000000♠11,620 ft 3542 m 7002624535000000000♠2,049 ft 625 m 7004173700000000000♠10.79 mi 17.37 km

17 Puma Peak PB South Park Hills PB 7003352804900000000♠11,575 ft 3528 m 7002688848000000000♠2,260 ft 689 m 7004119700000000000♠7.44 mi 11.97 km

18 Thirtynine Mile Mountain PB South Park Hills PB 7003352141400000000♠11,553 ft 3521 m 7002636422000000000♠2,088 ft 636 m 7004170800000000000♠10.61 mi 17.08 km

19 Twin Sisters Peaks PB Front Range 7003348464200000000♠11,433 ft 3485 m 7002709574000000000♠2,328 ft 710 m 7003701000000000000♠4.36 mi 7.01 km

20 South Bald Mountain Laramie Mountains 7003335500000000000♠11,007 ft 3355 m 7002562000000000000♠1,844 ft 562 m 7004219900000000000♠13.66 mi 22.0 km

TRAVEL THROUGH THE FRONT RANGE

The main interstate highways that run through the Front Range
Front Range
are Interstate 70
Interstate 70
, which crosses west of Denver, Colorado, and Interstate 80 , which crosses near Laramie, Wyoming. U.S. Route 34 travels through the mountains near Loveland, Colorado
Colorado
. Along with roads that run through the Front Range, the Union Pacific Railroad
Union Pacific Railroad
operates two rail lines through the mountains: the Overland Route , transiting southern Wyoming, runs parallel to I-80 for much of its way, and the other, following former Denver
Denver
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* Geography portal * North America portal * United States portal * Colorado
Colorado
portal * Mountains portal

* Mountain ranges of Colorado
Colorado
* Front Range Urban Corridor
Front Range Urban Corridor
* Eldorado Canyon State Park
Eldorado Canyon State Park
* Flatirons * Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods
* Palmer Divide * Red Rocks Park * Roxborough State Park
Roxborough State Park

REFERENCES

* ^ http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic U.S. Geological Survey confirms that the Laramie Mountains(range) are the northern extent of the Front Range. * ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L M Johnson, Kirk R.; et al. (2006). Ancient Denvers. Fulcrum Publishing. ISBN 978-1-55591-554-4 . * ^ The summit of Grays Peak is the highest point on the Continental Divide of North America . * ^ A B C D E F G H I J The elevation of this summit has been converted from the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (NGVD 29) to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988
North American Vertical Datum of 1988
(NAVD 88). National Geodetic Survey

FURTHER READING

* Fishman, N.S. et al. (2005). Principal areas of oil, natural gas, and coal production in the northern part of the Front Range, Colorado . Reston, VA: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey. * Sprague, L.A., R.E. Zuellig, and J.A. Dupree. (2006). Effects of urban development on stream ecosystems along the Front Range
Front Range
of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado
Colorado
and Wyoming
Wyoming
. Reston, VA: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.

EXTERNAL LINKS

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for FRONT RANGE .

* "Front Range". Peakbagger.com.

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