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Old 09-10-2012, 12:57 PM
9,967 posts, read 14,605,870 times
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The Rockies are series of many different ranges over a much larger area than the Sierra Nevada stretching from New Mexico to Canada. So you'll find more variety in some ways among the Rockies in terms of geography--and there's a lot more scenic high elevation mining villages in places like Colorado. There's also much easier access to the Rockies in many ways considering the amount of high altitude roads and passes that lead far into the mountains. I mean you can drive to 11,000 feet in Colorado and summit several 14,000 peaks in the same afternoon--and it's not that difficult if you're even remotely in shape.

The Sierra on the other hand has a huge stretch from Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park all the way south to Walker Pass of over 150 miles where no roads or highways cross over the range--and outside of a few places like Yosemite National Park and Mammoth Mountain most of this area of the High Sierra is either National Parks and wilderness areas. And in the winter time when Sonora Pass and Tioga Pass are shut down, it's an even further distance--with no passes open from Tahoe all the way to the south end of the range practically. Which is why the John Muir Trail is considered one of the most highly sought after long distance high elevation trails in North America. There's some amazing country of sheer granite peaks and glacial carved lakes in the High Sierra that you're going to have to be a backpacker to see a lot of it. Compared to Colorado it's harder to reach---though there's places in Idaho(still part of the Rockies) or Wyoming that are similar in terms of wilderness areas. It's easier to get into the Sierra In terms of technical rock climbing spots, the granite of the Sierra is a major destination that compares to few places---and there's more than just the famous spots of Yosemite Valley as well.

If you're not a hardcore backpacker or climber however, most people would probably not care much about these distinctions--there's plenty of scenery in both--and you can find similar high elevation terrain in both. But a more accurate comparison would be one part of the Rockies(a single range or series of sub-ranges) to the Sierra, since the Rockies are so much more than just Colorado. I mean you could spend weeks just exploring the mountains in New Mexico or just the San Juans of SW Colorado or the Wind River Range of Wyoming or Glacier National Park in Montana.
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Old 09-14-2012, 03:50 PM
Location: Fort Collins, USA
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I prefer the Sierra Nevada (even though I live next to the Rockies). The reason is that the Sierra have almost all of what the Rockies have but the reverse is not true. They have similar elevations, similar rugged terrain, and similar high altitude forests and tundra. The vegetation is also quite similar to the Rockies on the eastern slopes of the Sierra. But the Rockies don't have anything like the big-tree forests and chaparral on the west side of the Sierra
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Old 09-14-2012, 11:22 PM
Location: State of Transition
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Sierra Nevada: redwood forests, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe. The Owens Valley used to be quite beautiful, too; might still be worth a visit.
The Rockies: Grand Tetons, Banff & Lake Louise, in Western CO: Ouray and the drive up to Telluride, spectacular and varied scenery, waterfalls, hot springs.
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Old 09-15-2012, 12:21 PM
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You intend to visit one entire mountain range, or are somehow under the impression that one range is the same for its entire length? The Rockies in New Mexico are different than in Colorado or north The Sierra Nevada is a "shorter range," but blends into others in the north (e.g., the Cascade Range, including Mt. Shasta, which could erupt again before you visit, if you don't hurry up). You have to decide what you want to do, when, and at least approximate;y where. I like the Sierra, but I'm from California. In California you could visit peaks over 14,000' in 3 ranges: Mt. Whitney (Sierra), White Mountain (White Mountains) and Shasta (Cascades). You can also visit the worl'd's biggest trees (Sierra Redwoods), the tallest trees (Coast Redwoods) and oldest trees (Bristlecone Pines, in the White Mountains).

I understand the Rockies will continue to crumble as time goes on, unless they are repaired, which seems unlikely anytime soon. The Sierra may be younger, but once they're out of the warranty period, you can expect them to go to hell, too.
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Old 09-15-2012, 09:16 PM
Location: Mammoth Lakes, CA
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There is no question the Sierras are vastly, incomparably superior. Drive from Lone Pine to Yosemite on 395 and you will see little growth over the past 100 years. The Rockies have been destoyed (ESPECIALLY in Colorado) by hideous tract housing and over population. The Eastern Sierras are also vastly superior to hike in over the Rockies. Just my two cents.
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Old 09-15-2012, 09:25 PM
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Both are beautiful, beautiful, areas.

I'll admit, I'm a tad biased as I live west of Grand Junction with the Colorado National Monument within view of my back door. I've driven a kazillion miles in my life and just yesterday I was coming back from Telluride and drove over Dallas Divide and looked at that San Juan Mountain range, one of the most, if not the most photographed mountain range in the States. Then there is the Collegiate range between Buena Vista and Salida. And the Sangre De Cristo range that runs a straight line through northern New Mexico. And the San Juans from Ouray to Durango on U.S. 550, AKA "The Million Dollar Highway".

I think I just talked myself into a road trip and to play hookey from modding the football forums! (I wish!)
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Old 09-20-2012, 12:47 PM
Location: Great Plains
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The more I think about it the more, I think that either is fine. As long as there is a decent set of mountains I would be happy.
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