Hikers and climbers from all over the world go to the mountains of the United States because they provide a diverse landscape and a LOT of challenges. We’ve got it all here!
The United States is home to many dramatic mountain ranges and quaint mountain villages. Some mountain towns provide adrenaline-pumping activities, while others are ideal for unwinding after a long day of fun and adventure. Some individuals go all out on ice cliffs in preparation for more challenging slopes, while others prefer to take in the scenery from their base camps.
We’ve compiled a list of the most incredible mountain ranges in the United States for you to have excellent hiking experiences and stunning vistas. Regardless of your skill level, grab your hiking boots and a water bottle, and get ready to see these 16 magnificent mountains in the US.
16. Denali (Alaska)
Since Denali was first ascended in 1913, the tallest peak in North America, once known as Mount McKinley, has been the objective of ambitious high altitude climbers. Its status as a highly sought-after peak stems from its proximity to the Arctic Circle and the Pacific Ocean (Gulf of Alaska), which provides some of the world’s most violent weather.
Due to Denali’s infamous weather and accessibility, some climbers utilize it as a training ground for the Himalayas‘ 8,000-meter peaks and lengthy journeys to the Arctic or Antarctic. Denali is the highest mountain in the Denali Borough, the state of Alaska, the United States, the Alaska Range, and North America.
Denali is one of the world’s most challenging expedition destinations. While peaks in South America and Asia surpass its elevation, its considerable height above the Alaskan plain makes it a demanding test of individual strength, teamwork, and logistics. Also, Read- ( Midas Manifestation Review )
No other summit offers such relief as Denali. Denali is 17,000 feet above sea level, Kilimanjaro is 14,000 feet, and Everest is 13,000 feet. Everest’s vertical gain from the standard base camp for the South Col approaches is 11,000 feet. Meanwhile, Denali’s summit climbs 13,000 feet from the landing location on the Kahiltna Glacier.
It also seems taller than it really is —- this is because the barometric pressure is lower in the northern/southern latitudes than in the equator, which gives climbers the illusion of being higher.
Six campgrounds are located along Denali’s Park Road. Each is distinctive in its position and access to various park regions. Except for Riley Creek and Savage River, all campsites are serviced by a Camper Transit bus.
15. Mount Rainier (Washington)
The Yakima Indians called the peak Tahoma “Great Snowy Peak.” On May 7, 1792, Captain George Vancouver called it in honor of British Navy Admiral Peter Rainier during a reconnaissance mission.
Mount Rainier is the Cascade Range’s tallest volcano and the fifth-highest peak in the continental United States. It is a massive mountain with several glaciers and routes suitable for climbers of all experience levels.
Over 10,000 people attempt to summit this mountain each year, and several expeditions aiming for higher peaks use Rainier as a training ground. The Disappointment Cleaver and the Emmons Glacier are two often climbed routes classified as class 4.
This mountain’s peak is unique among mountains. It has three distinct summits: Columbia Crest (14,411 feet), Point Success (14,158 feet southwest), and Liberty Cap (14,112 feet northwest), all separated by a vast crater. The most common routes take you to the crater rim, 14,150 feet above sea level. Many climbers assume this to be the top or near enough, but the true summit is a quarter-mile walk over the crater to Columbia Crest, which requires an hour round trip.
In the wilderness, parties are permitted to camp for 14 days. The maximum size of a party is 12, with any team of more than five considered a group. You can find high camps at Camp Muir on the south and Camp Schurman on the east on typical routes.
Trust us when we say: this is one of the most iconic mountains in the United States for a reason!
14. Sawtooth Ranger (Idaho)
Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains are the state’s crown jewels and the epicenter of mountaineering and extensive wall climbing. Despite its growing popularity, the area keeps its pristine and uncrowded character, offering a treasure trove of rock climbs, couloir climbs, and exposed scrambles.
The road (approach road) and trail network are sparse. The backcountry is relatively uncrowded because of the harsh terrain. However, this is still one of the most well-known mountains in the US.
The region’s rock climbing is limited only by what has been discovered and recorded. Numerous fantastic new routes on summits and pinnacles remain undiscovered and unclimbed. You must possess endurance and tenacity since most peaks have complicated approaches.
The area is a renowned backpacking destination, and the many alpine lakes and streams offer spectacular scenery. The majority of locations involve trekking into the bush for at least 4-7 kilometers.
Day hiking is widespread, and there are several accessible trailheads. Although peak bagging is gaining popularity, many summits involve lengthy day climbs or overnight base camps.
13. Mount Whitney (California)
In the Sierra Nevada range of California, Mount Whitney is a mountain of unique peculiarities. It is the highest peak in the counties of Tulare and Inyo. It is the highest point in the Sierra Nevada and indeed in the whole state of California. It is also the highest point in the contiguous United States outside Alaska.
Mount Whitney’s elevation seems to be constantly assessed and reevaluated utilizing cutting-edge technology, altering the mountain’s height. Whitney’s official elevation is 14,496 feet. However, the National Geodetic Survey and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s most current readings are 14,505 feet.
The 11-mile Mount Whitney Trail (class 1) is the shortest and most popular route to the top and is often combined with the 22-mile Mount Whitney Day Hike.
You only need shoes to approach this peak from the Whitney Portal trailhead at 8,365 feet in the summer and fall, but an ice ax and crampons may be required earlier in the season. Many hikers may take two days to complete this trail, staying at Outpost Camp or Trail Camp.
April, just before the quota season begins, is an exciting time to visit since the snowfall is firmer, and Trail Camp becomes a base camp for parties hanging out in the winter alpine beauty, using their 2-way radios to communicate with those above Trail Crest.
While there are several additional routes on Whitney, the most popular ones after the main path are the East Face, Mountaineer’s Route, the East Buttress, and the North Slope. Three of these climbs begin at Iceberg Lake, while the one is often climbed as a crossing from Mount Russell.
The Mountaineer’s Route is a popular destination throughout the winter. The East Face and East Buttress are the peak’s two famous challenging climbs. This is definitely one of the best mountains in the US for winter visits.
12. Bighorn Mountains (California)
Bighorn Mountain, situated in the San Gorgonio Wilderness in the San Bernardino Mountains, is one of the twenty-one summits exceeding 10,000 feet in southern California (south of the Sierra Nevada). It’s close to Mt. San Gorgonio and offers a nice break from the crowds.
Bighorn provides some off-track travel and a scenic ridgeline to break up the monotony of the path and tabletop summits of several other nearby peaks. Seriously: this is one of the most beautiful mountains in the United States by far.
From the parking area, go down the dirt road on the right side of the dry river bed for less than a quarter-mile until a sign indicating the route enters the river bed. Cross the rock wash to reach the trailhead on the opposite side. There is no official route that crosses the river bed, but it’s easy to waste time attempting to locate the trailhead on the other side, particularly if beginning in the dark.
The path rises nearly 700 feet in roughly a half-mile of switchbacks from the trailhead. Continue through High Creek Camp on the route until you reach the left side of a large open sandy bowl with San Gorgonio and Dragons Head views. Follow the path up to about 10,700 feet, then go left for a lateral trek over the bowl’s broad sandy slopes, bearing Dragons Head.
The ridgeline of Dragons Head is to your left, while to your right is the ridgeline of The Tarn Bighorn’s district. Ascend slowly from The Tarn to the summit’s easternmost point. On the way to the high eastern end, you’ll cross two false summits on the ridgeline between Dragons Head and Bighorn.
11. Magazine Mountain (Arkansas)
Arkansas is a mountainous state in the midwest. It is traversed by three major mountain ranges that are among the oldest in North America and are distinctive in that they run east-west rather than north-south.
Mount Magazine is a flat-topped plateau with a sandstone crown surrounded by sheer rock cliffs. The ridge is crowned by two peaks: Signal Hill, the state’s highest point, and Mossback Ridge, which reaches a height of 2,700 feet.
Mount Magazine-Signal Hill is Arkansas’s and the Ozark plateau’s highest point. The ridge is located 120 miles northwest of Little Rock in the Boston Mountains. It is situated on Scenic Highway 309, about 17 miles south of Paris, Logan County, in the Ozark National Forest (also known as the Mount Magazine Scenic Byway).
Mount Magazine State Park encompasses the mountain; Signal Hill is the highest point on the hill. It is a well-developed state park with various facilities, a campsite, and recreational opportunities. The park has 18 campgrounds, hiking paths, a pavilion, a picnic area complete with facilities, and several picturesque viewpoints.
There is a gallery of exhibits and a gift store within the visitor’s center. Regularly, park personnel hosts interpretive programs. There are several things to choose from, including rock climbing, horseback riding, bicycling, ATV trail riding, and hang gliding. The annual “Mount Magazine International Butterfly Festival” is held at Mount Magazine. Furthermore, the mountain is home to many species, including black bears, whitetail deer, bobcats, and coyotes.
10. Uinta Mountains (Utah)
The Uinta Mountains are one of North America’s few mountain ranges that flow east to west rather than north to south. Within the Uinta Mountains, there are around 2000 lakes, of which 900-1000 are stocked with trout.
Along with Colorado’s San Juans, the Uintas contain the most continuous territory above the timberline of any region in the Continental United States. The area is lovely, with several lakes, meadows, wildflowers, and steep peaks. Once you leave the prominent fishing locations behind, solitude is SUPER easy to find.
The northeast region of the Uinta Mountains is quite rough. The Uintas, which begin at Hayden Peak and extend east to Mount Lovenia, are similar to the Tetons or other ranges.
East of Lovenia, the peaks become more moderate, with a few steep mountains (e.g., Red Castle and Henrys Fork Peak) interspersed throughout until you reach the Henrys Fork/Kings Peak region. East of Kings Peak, the Uintas become more moderate, with rounded peaks and just a few isolated cliffs.
You will also find the Dinosaur National Monument and a large portion of the surrounding region (but not entirely) in the Uinta Mountains. This region of the Uinta Mountains is unlike the high peaks to the west and is often more desert than alpine.
Dinosaur National Monument and the Surrounding Area are harsh environments filled with overturned rock beds, dinosaur bones, rivers, canyons, and mountains. The region is densely forested and scenically beautiful.
9. Mount Elbert (Colorado)
Mount Elbert is rightfully proud of its accomplishments: it is the tallest peak in Lake County, the highest in Colorado, the highest in the Rockies, and the second-highest in the contiguous United States. However, if you ask a non-climber or someone who lives outside of Colorado, they have never heard of it.
That is their loss since Mt. Elbert is a magnificent mountain deserving of universal attention and respect. One of the best features of Mt. Elbert is the relatively easy ascent to the top, which allows practically anybody of decent fitness to appreciate the mountain and its prestige. It’s actually one of our favorite mountains in the US to climb!
The peak was first ascended by H.W. Stuckle of the Haydon Survey in 1874. Since then, many people have climbed it, and it has even been summited by vehicle.
In the 1970s, several people claimed that Mt. Massive, Mt. Elbert’s neighbor, was more worthy of becoming Colorado’s tallest mountain. They piled rocks on Massive’s peak to make it taller. Mt. Elbert remained the tallest peak because several protestors demolished the summit cairn.
Although most guidebooks indicate Mt. Elbert’s elevation as 14,433 ft., a 2002 recalculation of historical measured values resulted in a global revision of peak elevations, concluding that Mt. Elbert’s actual elevation is 14,440 ft.
There are five primary ways to the summit; the most popular and most straightforward are the South Mt. Elbert Trail and the North Mt. Elbert Trail, both well-traveled class one trails. Summer is a popular time on these relatively easy roads to the peak, drawing all sorts of hikers and climbers, young and old.
Climbing Mount Elbert, as with any high peak, requires consideration of weather, altitude, and individual skill. However, with enough preparation and forethought, Mt. Elbert can provide an unforgettable climbing and outdoor experience.
8. Mount Mitchell (North Carolina)
Mount Mitchell, situated in North Carolina’s Black Mountains approximately 35 miles northeast of Ashville, is the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River. The Blue Ridge Parkway National Scenic Drive connects it to Clingmans Dome, the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi at 6,643 feet.
It is part of the Black Mountain Crest, which contains six other summits over 6300 feet, including Mount Craig, the second-highest mountain east of the Mississippi at 6,645 feet. Mount Mitchell State Park has the peak, but other approach paths (such as the Mount Mitchell Trail) begin in the Pisgah National Forest.
Throughout the summer, a variety of wildflowers bloom. Additionally, trout fishing is popular in the streams that flow down the Black Mountain Crest.
The most straightforward route to the peak is to drive around 100 degrees below the summit and then hike up a paved trail.
For those looking to get some exercise, a more acceptable route to the 6684 feet peak is the 5.6-mile class 1 Mount Mitchell Trail (USFS #190), which begins at the Black Mountain Campground (2680 feet).
You can also create a 15.5-mile loop hike by hiking to the summit from the campground, then continuing north along the Black Mountain Crest Trail (USFS #179, passing Mount Craig, Big Tom, Balsam Cone, and Cattail Peak), and down the Colbert Ridge Trail (USFS #178), before returning via gravel roads to the campground.
It is not unusual for the mountain to have two feet or more snow during the winter.
7. Mount Katahdin (Maine)
Katahdin is Maine’s tallest peak and the Appalachian Trail’s northern end. It is in Baxter State Park, a wilderness-managed region. The mountain rises above Maine’s comparably modest lakes and woodlands a mile above sea level. Timberline is about 3,500 feet because of the northern latitude.
From the south, the mountain is most magnificent, a sheer-like granite fortress that soars to great heights. It has a horseshoe-like form, with the open end facing northeasterly. There are five major peaks on the horseshoe, including Howe Peak, Hamlin Peak, Baxter Peak (top), South Peak, and Pamola Peak.
An unforgettable passage between South Peak and Pamola Peak is made possible by Katahdin’s most famous and frightening feature, the Knife Edge. Several hikers regularly climb Katahdin because of its prominence.
Katahdin seems to be volcanic, with its cirques resembling craters (the northeastern view is somewhat evocative of Mount St. Helens). But it is granite that has been worn and sculpted by glaciers.
The several routes to the summit all need some scrambling from second to fourth class and originate in one of three directions: north, east, or southwest. However, there are some difficult rock and ice paths.
Within the Great Basin cirque is a campground named Chimney Pond. From here, you can either climb the Cathedral Ridge Route (1.7 miles) that follows the prominent ridge west of Baxter Peak or the Saddle Trail (2.2 miles), which is a little more pedestrian. Alternatively, you can climb the Knife Edge (1.1 miles) via the Dudley Trail to Pamola Peak (1.3 miles).
If you wish to trek the entire western side of the mountain to the top, you can travel west from Chimney Pond to Hamlin Peak via the Hamlin Ridge Trail (2.2 miles).
6. Mount Washington (New Hampshire)
Mount Washington is the tallest mountain in North America, east of the Mississippi River, north of North Carolina, and south of Ellesmere Island. Additionally, it is one of New England’s most popular hiking, backcountry skiing, alpine climbing, and ice climbing locations. It’s by far one of the best mountains in the US and is a must-see if you’re in the New England area.
Between North Conway (to the south) and Gorham (to the west), it is lovingly known as “the Rock Pile.” Also, it is regarded as the “Home of the Guinness’ Worst Weather” and holds the world record for the highest wind speed ever recorded by man: 231 mph on April 12, 1934.
A cog train and road are atop this mountain, home to an observatory, museum, and snack store.
The 4.2-mile class 2 Tuckerman Ravine Trail, which begins at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, is one of the quickest, most picturesque, and most popular routes to the summit. The Lion Head Trail is arguably the second most popular snow-free path and the most popular in the winter.
The Huntington Ravine Trail, one of the White Mountains’ two most challenging hiking paths, provides strenuous hikes, rock climbs, and ice climbs.
Mount Washington is nicknamed the rock pile due to the summit’s enormous slabs of New Hampshire quartzite and mica schist), which you will have the privilege of trekking over this summer.
As you can undoubtedly guess from the photographs, Mount Washington is a top-rated destination for winter mountaineering, skiing, and ice climbing. Winter allows dust off your crampons and goes up against snow or ice instead. However, you should always check for current avalanche and weather conditions, as this peak has claimed over 120 lives.
5. Mauna Kea (Hawaii)
On Hawai’i’s Big Island, Mauna Kea is the state’s tallest peak at 13796 feet. Mauna Kea is not a single summit; it is a collection of volcanic cinder cones, some red, others black, glued onto a monstrous mountain.
While it’s easy to make grandiose parallels about how Mauna Kea epitomizes the spirit of Hawai’i, the actual monarch mountain of the Big Island is Mauna Loa, which frequently distributes lava flows across a 50-mile radius in practically every direction. However, since the slopes of Mauna Kea are steeper than those of Mauna Loa, the former’s summit vistas are superior, and the climbs are shorter.
The Mauna Kea Trail is 6 miles long (one way) and rises 4,576 feet in elevation, beginning at the Onizuka Visitor Center at 9,200 feet. The route follows a partly paved summit road roughly between the Mauna Kea Ice Age Reserve border at 13,200 feet and the summit road’s high point at 13,700 feet.
The peak is a short walk of 5-15 minutes from the road’s terminus and a 100-foot height gain. Most “mountaineers” drive to the end of the road, which may be tough for walkers, particularly when the altitude begins. Apart from the moral superiority gained by trekking, you’ll enjoy spectacular and wild vistas along the route.
A brief side journey to Lake Waiau, a relatively small lake (less than 10 feet deep), approximately a mile and a half from the top, is a fascinating diversion. To give their babies “mountain strength,” Hawaiians used to bring their babies’ umbilical cords here to give them “mountain strength.”
If you’re in Hawaii, then this is one of the must-see mountains in the United States simply for the views.
4. Great Smoky Mountains (North Carolina)
The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the most visited mountain ranges in Eastern America. There are 25 peaks above 6000 feet in the range, 12 on the South Beyond 6000 list. Numerous further peaks exceed 5000 feet.
The range rises from the Pigeon River canyon and stretches over 70 miles to the Little Tennessee River. The Appalachian Trail follows the range’s spine, passing summits such as the Silers Bald, Mount Thunderhead Clingmans Dome, Mount Collins, Mount Kephart, Charlies Bunion, Tri-Corner Knob, Mount Guyot. The Appalachian Trail travels 71.4 miles across the range, about half of which is above 5000 feet.
With almost 522,000 acres of rugged high mountain wilderness, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was officially established in 1934. The park receives around 9,000,000 visitors each year.
A recent park service research found that just 44% of tourists intended to spend a day hiking in the Smokies. Only 14% said they wanted to camp, and only 2% stated their intention to utilize backcountry shelters or campsites.
The 114 backcountry shelters or campsites are your sole option for an overnight stay in the Smoky Mountains backcountry. You can’t camp in any other location. To remain in the backcountry, you must also get a free permit from any Ranger Station or Visitors Center.
For obvious reasons, this is one of the must-see mountains in the US, but it’s definitely a trip you’ll want to plan well in advance and isn’t a place to wing-it.
3. Alaska Range (Alaska)
While not comparable in length, the Alaska Range is arguably the continent’s most incredible mountain range due to its excellent ruggedness, the enormity of its most significant peaks, infamously severe weather, and resulting glaciation.
The range cuts a 600-mile-long gash across southern Alaska, separating it from its interior. The White River in Canada borders it to the southeast. It has the continent’s tallest peak, as well as numerous additional steep peaks and alpine testpieces.
The area draws visitors seeking to experience Alaska’s breathtaking nature and seven summits hopefuls and world-class alpinists. Big-game hunters go to the site to demonstrate their vigor by killing gigantic specimens of the animal world, ranging from dangerous grizzly bears to magnificent Dall sheep, using high-powered rifles.
In winter, the Alaska Range blocks the flow of moist air from the Gulf of Alaska, causing extreme weather.
The region’s renowned conditions are harsh: massive glaciers, six-hour sunshine in the winter, and timberline between 2,500 and 3,000 feet. If you’re in Alaska, this is definitely one of the must-see mountains in the United States!
2. Grand Teton (Wyoming)
The name Grand Teton itself urges exploration and climbing of the region’s iconic routes. Grand Teton is a typical alpine peak in and of itself, deserving of its national park. For almost a century, climbers have been lured to “The Grand,” and pilgrimages from all over the globe continue.
With over 35 courses and 50 variations, there is something for everyone between 5.4 and 5.12. New routes emerge, including Stephen Koch and Hans Johnstone’s The Squeeze Box, Grade IV, M7, A0.
The Owen-Spalding is the typical route at Grade II, 5.4, and demands expert rock climbing abilities and equipment. The most well-known path is Exum Ridge, named for Grand Teton pioneer Glenn Exum.
On August 11, 1898, William Owen, Franklin Spalding, Frank Peterson, and John Shive made the first climb of The Grand using the now-famous Owen-Spalding route.
The Lupine Meadow trailhead serves as the starting point for most mountain routes. Expect a large number of vehicles at this trailhead. From the Lupine Meadow Trailhead (6,732 feet), ascend the Garnet Canyon Trail. The path splits after 1.7 miles. Continue straight for 1.5 miles until the route divides again. If climbing the Owen-Spalding, Exum, or Petzoldt ridges, go left toward Garnet Canyon.
You need to acquire permits for backcountry camping, especially for a high camp. Permits are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station.
1. Sierra Nevada (California)
The Sierra Nevada is California’s mountain range. There are other more magnificent ranges in the state, but none compare to the Sierra Nevada’s tremendous beauty. The peak has served as a home to indigenous peoples, a frightening barrier to early immigrants, an El Dorado for gold seekers, and a year-round playground in contemporary times.
Today, the Sierra Nevada receives tens of millions of annual tourists. With unspoiled grounds, clean air, and spectacular views, tourists can experience the mountains as John Muir did 140 years ago. Two national parks and twenty wilderness areas safeguard the range’s most pristine parts from human development.
While sightseeing is undoubtedly the most popular activity, many visitors come to ski, camp, boat, fish, off-road, hike, and climb.
The Sierra Nevada runs 400 miles along California’s eastern border, its width varying between 50 and 80 miles. The northern half of the range is densely wooded and has lower altitudes; notable peaks are uncommon and hardly rise above the surrounding forest.
The Sierra’s drama begins towards the northern end of Lake Tahoe when the peaks leap over 9,000 feet. The famous Lake Tahoe area has dense ski resorts. The Granite Chief, Mount Rose, and Desolation Wildernesses protect the more pristine mountain regions.
Between Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe, the peaks reach an additional 11,000 feet. Volcanic rock dominates this region, providing limited options for rock climbing but beautiful hiking and scrambling.