As host to one of the major continental-scale ice sheets, and with considerable spatial variability of climate related to its physiography and location, North America has experienced a wide range of climates over time. The aim of this chapter is to review the history of those climate variations, focusing in particular on the continental-scale climatic variations between the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, ca. 21,000 years ago or 21 ka) and the present, which were as large in amplitude as any experienced over a similar time span during the past several million years. As background to that discussion, the climatic variations over the Cenozoic (the past 65.5 Myr, or 65.5 Ma to present) that led ultimately to the onset of Northern Hemisphere glaciation at 2.59 Ma will also be discussed. Superimposed on the large-amplitude, broad-scale variations from the LGM to present, are climatic variations on millennial-to-decadal scales, and these will be reviewed in particular for the Holocene (11.7 ka to present) and the past millennium.