There’s something truly spectacular about going into the wilderness and exploring some incredible mountain ranges in the United States. There’s nothing better than basking in the sunshine, breathing in the crisp, fresh air, gazing at alpine lakes, and drinking in incredible views of the mountain silhouettes.
Whether you’re a seasoned K-2 climber or a beginner hiker, heading on an adventure in the fog-covered Smoky Mountains or the snowy Alaska Range peaks is an amazing experience. There’s something for everyone, from trekking to scenic drives, water sports, and more.
Let’s dive into some magnificent mountain chains in the USA before planning your unforgettable adventure.
The most beautiful Mountain Ranges in the US
– Rocky Mountains, United States
The Rocky Mountains, or the Rockies, form the longest mountain range in the US, and the second-largest range in the world. It spans 3,000 miles (4,800 km) north-to-south, from Alberta and British Columbia to New Mexico.
The mountain ranges include 100 separate chains divided into four subdivisions, including the Canadian Rockies, the Southern Rockies, the Middle Rockies, and the Colorado Plateau. The Rockies’ highest peak is Mount Elbert in Colorado, which rises 14,440 feet above sea level.
The Rockies are also home to popular American National Parks, including:
- The Grand Teton National Park (which protects the picturesque Teton Range)
- Glacier National Park
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Yellowstone National Park
The Rocky Mountain National Park is a popular park. It covers 415 square miles of incredible natural beauty with 300 miles of hiking trails. It is superb to visit during spring and summer to enjoy mountains carpeted in colorful blooms. You’ll also be spoiled with an abundance of wildlife. Here is an excellent guided hike to the St. Mary’s Glacier.
Known as one of the most famous mountain ranges for outdoor recreation, the Rockies welcome warm, rainy summers and cool, snowy winters.
Other notable subranges within the Rockies:
- Bitterroot Range
- Wasatch Mountains
- Front Range
- Bighorn Mountains
– Teton Range
The Teton Range is a fault-block mountain range, with a 13,770-foot summit, stretching between Idaho (check what to do in Idaho Falls here) and Wyoming. The range is primarily in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, one of the 10 must-visit national parks on the west coast.
It’s one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in North America and is located within the Rocky Mountains – it’s an icon of the Cowboy State.
The mountains are dotted with crystal-clear alpine lakes, springs, and abundant wildlife. The meadows that lie beneath these peaks are blanketed with wildflowers in kaleidoscopic colors. There are plenty of hiking and trekking opportunities along the many trails offered here, from easy walks to a couple of days of climbing. Not to mention skiing, which is a popular sporting activity in winter.
Why not hop on a wildlife safari tour to explore the beauty surrounding these mountains? Or even better, go for Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Flight for a scenic and unforgettable experience, that’s for sure.
– Appalachian Mountain Range
The Appalachian Mountains measure 1,500 miles across the east coast of the US. The mountain range forms part of the Black Mountain Range in North Carolina. It runs from Alabama to Maine, with the highest point being Mount Mitchell.
Mount Mitchell rises 6,684 feet (2,037m) above sea level, overlooking the Pisgah National Forest. You can visit the peak with a drive along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, or park your car at the State Park and hike to the top.
The Appalachians subranges include:
- Great Smoky Mountain Range
- Green Mountains
- Longfellow Mountains
- Blue Ridge Mountains, USA
- White Mountains
– The Great Smoky Mountain Range
The Great Smoky Mountains, also known as the Smokies, is a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains. It is best known for the fog that usually hangs around the top of the peaks, creating that ‘smoky’ look – hence the name.
These mountains are found primarily in North Carolina and Tennessee and are protected by the Smoky Mountains National Park. It is one of the most beautiful national parks on the east coast and the most visited national park in the US.
The mountains boast towering peaks and are covered in thick forests. Clingmans Dome is the highest point, rising to 6,423 feet (2,025 m). Millions of visitors visit this park each year to enjoy camping, hiking, Jeep tours, and some of the most beautiful mountain views in America.
– Blue Ridge Mountains, USA
The Blue Ridge Mountains are a large subrange of the greater Appalachian Mountains. These mountains are some of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. They are best known for their vibrant bluish appearance and boast miles of hardwood forests and vast terrains.
The Blue Ridge Mountains span across the eastern parts of the US, from Pennsylvania to Georgia. It contains various ranges of peaks; the highest is Mount Mitchell. Notably, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers visitors a scenic drive through a part of the mountains. If you’re an avid hiker, the Shenandoah National Park provides plenty of places to explore.
– White Mountain Range
The White Mountains are located in New Hampshire and part of Maine. These ranges are part of the northern Appalachian Mountains and boast an assortment of outdoor activities like camping and hiking. In addition, you can also take in the spectacular views from tramways, railways, and more.
Within the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, Mount Washington is the highest peak in northeastern America and stands at 6,288 feet (1,917 m).
The White Mountain National Forest attracts plenty of visitors throughout the year; however, come autumn, leaf-peepers stop over to see the colorful hues of burnt orange, gold, and fiery reds. The best way to see this spectacular range is to take the scenic Kancamagus Byway. The road takes you along the Swift River to some majestic hiking trails.
– Alaska Range
The Alaska Range has some of the country’s most beautiful national parks and picturesque peaks that surround these mountains. Some of these incredible ranges include the Denali National Park and Preserve, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, and the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
Denali, part of the National Park and Preserve and located in this spectacular mountain range, is the highest mountain peak in North America. It stands at an elevation of 20,210 feet. These ranges are characterized by earthquakes, volcanic activity, and glaciers. If you dream of a trip to the 49th state, check out here our 7-day Alaska Itinerary.
– Sierra Nevada Mountain Range
Sierra Nevada Mountains run from north to south along the west coast, stretching from California’s Central Valley to the Great Basin. It’s one of the major mountain ranges in the US. Arguably, it’s one of the most famous American mountains ranges for outdoor recreation in California and Nevada.
Not only famous, but it actually has some of the best places for a weekend trip in Northern California.
Some of the iconic areas include Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Sequoia National Park, and Kings Canyon National Park, which are some of the best places to glamping in California.
There you can find some of the best hikes in Northern California. You’ll also see some of the tallest trees in the world here, the sequoia trees. These giant trees can grow up to 270 feet tall and around 25 feet in diameter.
On the Sierra Nevada range, Mount Whitney is the highest point and the tallest summit in the contiguous US. It is 400 miles long and 70 miles wide, with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,21 meters).
Some of the well-known subranges within the Sierra Nevada region:
- Cathedral Range
- Carson Range
- Ritter Range
These mountain ranges each offer unique experiences, hiking, stunning views, and incredible wildlife sightings. If you are traveling to or visiting San Francisco, have a look at this incredible 4-day trip from San Francisco to Yosemite, Lake Tahoe and Sierras. A great way to witness some of Sierra Nevada’s beauty is going on day trips from Fresno. Read our guide about what to do in Fresno and parks near the city.
– Cascade Range
The Cascade Range, also known as the ‘American Alps,’ spreads 700 miles along the United States’ northwestern coast to Canada (it’s one of the best viewpoints in Vancouver). The range is astonishingly beautiful, dotted with snow-capped mountains and volcanoes, and includes the famous Mount Rainier.
Mount Rainier boasts the Cascade Ranges’ highest point, reaching an elevation of 14,411 feet (4,392 m). It also occupies Mount Saint Helens – the active stratovolcano that last erupted in 2008. Several peaks in the Cascade Range reach a staggering elevation of 10,000 feet and are referred to as the ‘High Cascades.’
It’s a favorite destination for climbing, hiking, mountaineering, and other outdoor activities. Forested trails lead to cascading waterfalls and crystal turquoise lakes. In autumn, these mountains burst with color and welcome plenty of wildlife such as grey wolves, bears, and many bird species.
Looking for more US travel tips? Find all our United States guides here!
– Olympic Mountains Range
The Olympic Mountain range is primarily set within the Olympic National Park in the Pacific Northwest in the US. These mountains form part of the Pacific Coast Ranges, well-known for their rocky coastlines, rugged peaks, and lush rainforests.
Several peaks reach 7,000 feet (2,100 m), including Mount Olympus having the highest peak, at an elevation of 7,965 feet (2,428 m). The mountain range holds approximately 60 glaciers and plenty of recreational activities to explore and tour.
– Adirondack Mountains
The Adirondack Mountains are some of the oldest mountains on earth, located in northeastern New York. This range extends from the St. Lawrence River Valley to the Mohawk River Valley.
The Adirondacks form a circular dome that is 160 miles (260 m) in diameter and approximately 1 mile (1,600 m) high. It’s the perfect getaway for many New Yorkers looking to escape the city and relax amidst nature.
This beautiful US mountain range has more than 200 lakes surrounding its mountains, including Lake George, Lake Placid, and also Lake Tear of the Colors, which is the source of the Hudson River.
The Adirondack Region boasts an assortment of peaks and foothills and over 40 summits reaching 4,000 feet (1,200 meters), the tallest being Mount Marcy. The range is covered in pine forests, spectacular gorges, lakes, and waterfalls.
Ski down the snowy caps in winter. Come spring, watch how the ice caps melt into rivers, and in autumn, the slopes are clad in hues of reds, coppers, and yellows. This space offers scenic drives, endless sidewalks through meadows and under waterfalls, not to mention the Adirondack Mountains’ incredible hikes.
A Footnote on the most beautiful mountains in the USA
Some of the most beautiful mountain ranges are found in the United States. With sheer grandeur and pristine natural surroundings, many flock to explore the tranquil beauty of these mountain ranges.
Some seek to tackle icy cliffs, and others opt to uncover panoramic views on scenic drives. Throughout the year, these majestic ranges welcome millions of visitors to explore the surroundings.
So, why not grab a water bottle and your hiking boots, and get ready to explore some of the most picturesque mountains in the US? Keep planning your US adventure, read our Accommodation Guide for tips on how to find the best places to stay for your trip
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