12,480 feet (3,804m)
The Big Thompson River flows swiftly down Forest Canyon below, as it has for thousands of years. Several times during the past two million years, frigid climates caused glaciers to form and move down the canyon. Flowing ever so slowly, these deep "rivers of ice" carved out Forest Canyon along an ancient fault line. One of them was Rocky Mountain National Park's largest glacier, extending thirteen miles and exceeding depths of two thousand feet.
Forest Canyon is one of the parks wildest areas, trails neither lead into it nor rise from its floor to the glacial basins and peaks above. Mule deer, elk, black bear, mountain lion, beaver, squirrels and rabbits enhabit the canyon. Golden eagles soar above.
Smaller glaciers formed in side valleys. Hayden Gorge bears the characteristic U-shape of a glacial valley (cirque). The gentle terrain atop Terra Tomah Mountain and the areas above the glacial cirques escaped the glacier's grinding action.
To the left of Hayden Spire is Sprague Mountain (12,713 ft), then Stones Peak (12,922 ft). To the right is Hayden Gorge, and the dome of Terra Tomah Mountain (12,718 ft).
Information from the National Park Service / U.S. Department of the Interior, and National Geographic's "Rocky Mountain National Park Road Guide"
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