Great Canadian Parks / British Columbia

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The Parks / British Columbia / Glacier National Park

The Selkirks are located in the heart of the Columbia Mountains, surrounded by the Purcells to the east, the Monashees to the west and the Cariboos to the north. The rock here is some of the oldest on the planet, formed as much as 800 million years ago, much older than the predominantly sedimentary faces exposed in the Rocky Mountains to the east. It is a complex geological mix of metamorphic, sedimentary and igneous rock, characterized by towering, sharply angled peaks and narrow, steep-walled valleys.


This landscape is the result of alpine glacial erosion and stream erosion. Most of the Selkirk peaks are composed of very hard rock: quartzite, schist, marble, gneiss and granite. They erode slowly, breaking along fault lines of softer sedimentary rock. The resulting features such as horns, aretes, ridges, cirques and hanging valleys retain their sharp edges despite their age. Where water is the erosional force, it cuts deep valleys rather than the broad u-shaped riverbeds of more meandering waterways.


The distinct features of the Selkirks are particularly evident when compared to the more rounded profiles of the Purcell Range on the other side of the Beaver Valley. These more subdued mountains support vast alpine meadows, which can be accessed via the Beaver River and Copperstain Creek Trails.


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