Traditional interpretations of the American West have concentrated on the importance of its aridity to the region's cultural evolution and development. But the West is marked by a second fact of physical geography that distinguished it (from the experiences of settlers) from the east. As pioneers struggled with the climate west of the hundredth meridian, they were also confronted by mountains strewn across the region and offering their own set of limitations and opportunities. This volume focuses on these green islands of the Mountainous West that have witnessed patterns of settlement and development distinct from their lowland neighbors. In thirteen essays, the contributors address the mountains by means of five themes: the mountains as barriers to movement, islands of moisture, a zone of concentrated resources, an area of government control, and a restorative sanctuary. The focus ranges from California's Sierra Nevada to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Utah, and Montana.