Colorado – Rocky Mountain National Park: Forest Canyon Overlook – Tundra Patterns
Image by wallyg
The tundra patterns visible from Forest Canyon Overlook, scattered rocks that form "patterned ground" are found in Arctic and Alpine regions where temperatures remain below freezing at least five months each year. During the last Ice Age, freezing and thawing of the tundra topsoil forced these patterns to the surface. Some patterned ground has indistinct forms while others are precise circles or other forms. The degree of slope determines the rock patterns. Rock streams "flow" downhill, while polygons and circles form of level surfaces.
Forest Canyon Overlook, a short 1/8 mile paved trail along Trail Ridge Road, crosses the tundra–a Russian word for "land of no trees." In the tundra, above the treeline, winds often exceed 100 miles per hour and temperatures remain below freezing for at least five months each year.