Rockies vs. Alps

Rockies versus Alps. No, I’m not referring to the baseball team, but to two of the world’s most famous and beautiful mountain ranges. A brief excursion to the Engadine valley in southeast Switzerland got me wondering: which range is more spectacular?

This week saw me in Sils Maria, a small village close to the well-known and tourist hotspot St. Moritz but infinitely more peaceful and rejuvenating. It’s clear why Friedrich Neitzsche spent time here. For those looking for activity, Sils is also well-situated for skiing adventures and summertime hikes.

Okay, travel tip over. Let’s get back to our comparison. The ranges are very different. While the Alps - well the Swiss Alps - are not as high as the Rockies, incredibly narrow valleys mean that the individual peaks rise more majestically than a given peak in the Rockies. Then there’s the Dolomites, a range of the Alps found in northeast Italy. The peaks here are, simply put, unique. You won’t see another mountain like these. The massifs here are a composition of jagged teeth, creating a most dramatic, breath-stealing landscape.

A view from the top of the Corvatsch


A view from the top of the Corvatsch

For readers who find themselves protesting, wait. While I love the Alps, nothing beats the Rockies. As a range, their width, breadth and height, aren’t to be beat. And that’s not even starting with the issue of powder. Hey, there’s a reason why Europeans ski in Vail and Aspen.

Think your shot of the Rockies is better than this of the Swiss Alps (above)? Send your photos (with locations details) to shana@ijn.com and we’ll post them on the blog.

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4 Responses to “Rockies vs. Alps”


  1. matt

    Keep the posts coming. I like reading your stuff. thanks.

  2. Alexander

    The swiss alps are higher than the Rockies. The highest peak in Switzerland is Monte Rosa 4,634 metres/15,202 ft. The highest peak in the Rockies is Mount Elbert 4401 meters 14,440 ft. The highest peak in the alps is Mount Blanc 4810,45 metres/15,782 ft.

  3. Wm

    as one who has traveled, climbed, and skied widely throughout the Alps and Rockies over 35 years, I can say that the Alps are in a whole other class, which is partly due to how they were formed (Italy crashing into Europe millions of years ago). This talk about how the Rockies are higher is misleading (and wrong)–it’s not absolute altitude, but RELIEF that matters: compare relative base to summit differences, and you can see how the Alps are much bigger, steeper, and even more beautiful than the Rockies, which I also love.

  4. Rocky Mountain Jew

    @Wm

    Didn’t know about the relief vs height aspect. Certainly explains how the Alps appear to be far steeper than the Rockies.