Photo: Dene' Miles/Shutterstock

23 of America's Most Picturesque Mountains

United States Galleries
by Albie Hartshill Sep 1, 2014

The United States has its share of incredible mountain ranges — the iconic Rockies, the misty Appalachians, the volcanic Cascades, the titans of the Hawaiian archipelago, the glacial massifs of Alaska — each with an allotment of high-profile peaks.

Yet not all mountains, even those with impressive stats, necessarily make photogenic subjects. Some are perpetually shrouded in clouds, or monochromatic and dull when viewed at a distance, or tarnished by a lackluster backdrop. Not so for the following. We’ve curated a gallery of some of the most picturesque mountains and mountain views in the US.

Mount Shasta

Photo: nyker/Shutterstock

Mount Shasta is a volcano in Northern California near the border with Oregon. It’s picked up a reputation among New Agers as a global power center of harmonic convergence…which I’m sure is a very good thing.

Grand Teton

Photo: Anthony Heflin/Shutterstock

The major peaks of the Teton Range—originally named les trois tétons, “the three breasts,” by French explorers who clearly hadn’t seen breasts for a while—snake north along the border of Wyoming and Idaho near Yellowstone National Park. Don’t visit Yellowstone without visiting Grand Teton National Park. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Glacier National Park

Photo: Pung/Shutterstock

Glacier as a whole is one of the most scenic areas in the US. Sadly, the glaciers referred to in its name may all be gone by 2030 thanks to climate change. 

Mount Rainier

Photo: Dene’ Miles/Shutterstock

Just 54 miles from Seattle, Mount Rainier, an active volcano, has been deemed a “Decade Volcano,” which means it’s one of the 17 most potentially deadly volcanoes in the world.

Mauna Kea

Photo: Hide’s Edoventure/Shutterstock

Mauna Kea is one of the five active volcanoes making up the Big Island of Hawaii, and the tallest. Technically speaking, from its base at the bottom of the ocean floor to its peak 4,200 meters above sea level, Mauna Kea’s taller than Everest.

Maroon Bells

Photo: haveseen/Shutterstock

Though beautiful, the Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado have a secondary and less alluring moniker: the Deadly Bells. Climbers get into fatal accidents all too often attempting to summit these two peaks.

Mount Whitney

Photo: Zhukova Valentyna/Shutterstock

The highest mountain in the contiguous states, Mount Whitney practically adjoins the lowest point on the continent, just 84 miles away in Death Valley. It’s relatively easy to get to from the Bay Area or the SoCal sprawl and is one of the most-climbed mountains in the country.

Mount Baker

Photo: EB Adventure Photography/Shutterstock

Mount Baker is in northern Washington near the Canada border and is one of the many volcanoes in the Cascade Range. It’s currently active, though it hasn’t appeared to be near eruption since 1975. It’s also one of the snowiest places in the world.

Great Smoky Mountains

Photo: Dave Allen Photography/Shutterstock

Most of the attention on America’s mountains gets placed (fairly) on the Rockies, Sierra Nevadas, and Cascades. They’re much taller out West, but the Appalachian Mountains are believed to have once been as tall as the Rockies or the Alps before they eroded down to their present heights. The Smokies are among the most picturesque of the Appalachians.

Harney Peak

Photo: HTurner/Shutterstock

At 7,200 feet, Harney Peak is the tallest point in both the Black Hills of South Dakota and anywhere in the country east of the Rockies.

Mount Saint Elias

Photo: Francisco Blanco/Shutterstock

Mount Saint Elias has the dual distinction of being the second-tallest mountain in both Canada and the US, as it straddles the border. It’s not frequently climbed because it’s difficult to get to. 

Mount Timpanogos

Photo: Johnny Adolphson/Shutterstock

Mount Timpanogos in Utah’s Wasatch Range is fairly close to some of the largest population centers of the state, Salt Lake City and Provo. As such, it’s a very popular hiking spot.


Photo: Eder Maioli/Shutterstock

Also known as Mount McKinley, Denali is the tallest mountain in the US and on the North American continent. At a latitude of 63 degrees north, Denali’s severe winter conditions are analagous to those on the planet’s tallest peaks, so it’s ideal preparation for expeditions in the Himalayas. It takes two to four weeks to climb, with 58% of climbers reaching the top.

Wrangell-St. Elias

Photo: Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is the largest area administered by the US Parks Service, taking up a chunk of the territory where the Alaska Panhandle meets the rest of the state. Despite its incredible scope and beauty, the park only receives about 70,000 visitors a year.


Photo: Pierre Leclerc/Shutterstock

Haleakala is the volcano that makes up most of the island of Maui. It’s known among tourists for being a spectacular place to watch the sunrise.

Mount Mitchell

The highest peak in the Appalachians is Mount Mitchell, which makes it the highest mountain east of the Mississippi. It’s part of the Black Mountain Range in North Carolina.

Hurdygurdy Peak

Photo: KSL Productions LLC/Shutterstock

Hurdygurdy Peak is in the Chugach Mountains that skirt Anchorage. These are the mountains where the annual World Extreme Skiing Championships are held.

Mauna Loa

Photo: MNStudio/Shutterstock

Mauna Loa, like Mauna Kea, is one of the volcanoes that makes up the Big Island of Hawaii. Although shorter, it outclasses its neighbor Mauna Kea by mass and volume. Plus, it’s probably better known because of the macadamia-nut brand.

White Mountains

Photo: Winston Tan/Shutterstock

Covering a quarter of the state, the White Mountains shape the character of New Hampshire. The Appalachian Trail winds through the range, summitting 16 four-thousand-footers along the way.

Mount Gould

Photo: Evan Sloyka/Shutterstock

Mount Gould in Glacier National Park flanks Grinnell Lake, making it particularly photogenic. 

Olympic Mountains

Photo: Katy Foster/Shutterstock

Washington’s Olympic Mountains aren’t particularly high—none of them are over 8,000 feet — but they sit dramatically on the Puget Sound and tower over the nearby cities.

Pikes Peak

Photo: Jassica R. McNair/Shutterstock

Pikes Peak is relatively close to Denver and you can drive to the summit, which is why you so frequently see bumper stickers bearing its name. Despite its ease of access, at 14,115 feet the summit’s a legitimate “14er.” 

Kenai Mountians

Photo: Veronique Pellet/Shutterstock

The Kenai Mountains extend from the Chugach Range down to the tip of the stunning Kenai Peninsula, where this photo was taken. The range is within easy driving distance of Anchorage. 

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