20 Most Scenic Mountains in the United States

Picture yourself standing atop a snow-capped mountain, looking out over miles upon miles of breathtaking scenery. That’s the kind of sight you can experience in the United States, as this country is home to some truly stunning peaks and valleys that are perfect for hiking or climbing.

From well-known national parks like The Rocky Mountain National Park to lesser known gems such as Kings Canyon National Park in California and Alaska’s Denali, mountains in the United States provide an unforgettable backdrop no matter what your outdoor pursuits may be.

Let’s explore the different types of mountains found across America and uncover some hidden gems along the way!

Most Beautiful Mountains in the United States

If you’re a mountain lover, the United States has plenty of breathtaking peaks to explore. From the snowy peaks of Alaska to the rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains, there’s no shortage of stunning mountain ranges to discover.

Here are some of the most beautiful mountains in the US that you won’t want to miss.

1. Denali (Mount McKinley)

Mount Denali, Photo by Jacob Vizek

Denali, also known as Mount McKinley, is the tallest mountain in North America, with an elevation of 20,310 feet.

Located in Alaska’s Denali National Park, the mountain is surrounded by stunning wilderness and wildlife.

Denali stands unique as it is not just the highest peak in North America, but also the coldest.

With a remarkably low temperature that can drop to minus 75 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s a real test of endurance for mountaineers.

Also, the mountain is home to diverse wildlife, including grizzly bears, caribou, and Dall sheep.

Many mountaineers like to trek to the summit of Denali in preparation for climbing Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.

2. Mount Whitney

Mount Whitney, Photo by Connor Simonson

Mount Whitney is the highest peak in the contiguous United States, located in California’s Sierra Nevada range.

Standing at 14,505 feet, the mountain offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. It’s a popular destination for hikers and climbers, but be warned – the high elevation can make the climb challenging.

Mount Whitney is not just a mountain, but a hikers’ paradise. With over 60 miles of maintained trails, the mountain offers diverse terrains, from alpine meadows and tranquil lakes to the rugged high-altitude landscape.

Its most unique feature is the 13-mile Whitney Portal, a trail that promises a stunning, panoramic view at every step.

3. Mount Elbert

Mount Elbert, Photo by Walther Nunez

Located in Colorado’s Sawatch Range, Mount Elbert is the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains.

Standing at 14,440 feet, the mountain offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. It’s a popular destination for hikers and climbers, but be prepared for the high elevation and challenging terrain.

Mount Elbert’s uniqueness lies in its family-friendly trails. The North Elbert Trail and the South Elbert Trail, both known for their moderate difficulty, are perfect for families and beginner hikers.

It’s also famous for its diverse flora, including aspen groves and spruce forests, offering hikers a unique blend of nature.

4. Mount Foraker

snow mountain climber looking at Mount Foraker over the horizon

Located in Alaska’s Alaska Range, Mount Foraker is known for its stunning beauty and challenging climbs.

Standing at 17,400 feet, the mountain is a popular destination for experienced mountaineers.

Mount Foraker is uniquely known for its isolation and lack of human activity. The mountain is less frequently climbed compared to its neighbors, making it a peaceful and untouched beauty.

Its unique feature is the “Sultana Ridge”, a stunning feature that promises a challenging and scenic climb.

5. Mount Mitchell

Located in North Carolina’s Black Mountains, Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, standing at 6,684 feet.

It’s the crown jewel of the Appalachian Mountains – a sprawling mountain range that stretches from the southernmost reaches of Alabama to the northern borders of Maine.

The Appalachian Mountains are known for their biodiverse forests, stunning fall colors, and the famed Appalachian Trail – a 2,200-mile bucket-list hike for many outdoor enthusiasts.

The summit hosts the Mount Mitchell State Park, which offers a range of facilities including a museum, picnic areas, and several challenging hiking trails, making it a must-visit destination for those exploring the Appalachians.

6. Mount Saint Elias

Mount Saint Elias in Alaska viewed from Icy Bay, United States, North America

Located in Colorado’s Sawatch Range, Mount Elbert is the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains.

Standing at 14,440 feet, the mountain offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. It’s a popular destination for hikers and climbers, but be prepared for the high elevation and challenging terrain.

Mount Elbert’s uniqueness lies in its family-friendly trails. The North Elbert Trail and the South Elbert Trail, both known for their moderate difficulty, are perfect for families and beginner hikers.

It’s also famous for its diverse flora, including aspen groves and spruce forests, offering hikers a unique blend of nature.

7. Mount Blackburn

Located in Alaska’s Wrangell Mountains, Mount Blackburn is known for its stunning beauty and challenging climbs.

Mount Blackburn is not only stunningly beautiful but also holds the distinction of being the highest peak in the Wrangell Mountains, and the fifth highest in the United States.

However, what truly sets Mount Blackburn apart is its twin summits. Standing at 16,390 feet, the west summit is officially recognized as the mountain’s highest point. Meanwhile, the east summit, at 16,286 feet, offers an equally impressive view.

8. Maroon Bells

Located in Colorado’s Elk Mountains, the Maroon Bells are two peaks that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

One interesting fact about the Maroon Bells is they are often considered the most photographed mountains in North America. This is primarily due to their dramatic craggy peaks that contrast beautifully with the serene Maroon Lake at their base.

According to local folklore, their name originated from the distinctive maroon-colored sedimentary rock from which they are formed and the bell-like shape of the two peaks.

The Maroon Bells are a true spectacle during sunrise when the rising sun illuminates their faces, creating an awe-inspiring display that attracts photographers and nature lovers from all corners of the globe.

9. Mount Shasta

Located in California’s Cascade Range, Mount Shasta is known for its stunning beauty and challenging climbs. Standing at 14,179 feet, the mountain is popular for hikers and climbers.

Mount Shasta is not just famous for its imposing height and panoramic vistas. It’s also steeped in intriguing local folklore and mystery.

The mountain is considered sacred by the Native American tribes living in the surrounding area, and various legends and spiritual lore are associated with it.

One of the most captivating is the belief in a hidden city called Telos, supposedly inhabited by an ancient, advanced civilization called the Lemurians.

This tale has sparked the interest of explorers and adventure seekers for generations, adding an alluring layer of mystique to Mount Shasta’s already impressive natural beauty.

10. Mount Adams

Mount Adams view and reflection in the small quiet river. Trout Lake Creek, Washington, USA Pacific Northwest.

Located in Washington’s Cascade Range, Mount Adams is known for its stunning beauty and challenging climbs. Standing at 12,281 feet, the mountain is a popular destination for hikers and climbers.

As the second highest mountain in Washington State, Mount Adams forms an imposing part of the Cascade Range. Its location in a less-populated area of the state gives it a quiet and serene aura that is somewhat rare in such lofty mountains.

Mount Adams is renowned for its glacial system, which consists of 12 glaciers spanning the mountain’s rugged slopes. These glaciers have been a subject of interest for scientists studying climate change, as they reflect the world’s changing environmental conditions.

In addition to mountaineering, the area offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, backcountry skiing, and snowshoeing.

The Round the Mountain Trail, in particular, is a popular trek that circumnavigates the mountain, offering hikers diverse views of the mountain’s landscapes.

11. Mount Olympus (Washington)

Mount Olympus Landscape Seattle Washington

Mount Olympus is not only the highest peak in the Olympic Mountains, but it also holds the distinction of having the third highest prominence in the state of Washington.

The mountain is primarily covered in glaciers, which are the source of several rivers, including the Hoh River. On the mountain’s northern slope, the Blue Glacier is particularly striking and a favorite amongst climbers.

Unlike its Greek namesake, known for its mythological significance, Washington’s Mount Olympus is celebrated for its abundance of natural beauty and biodiversity. The mountain sits within the Olympic National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its diverse ecosystems.

Despite its relatively modest elevation, climbing Mount Olympus’s summit is an adventurous undertaking requiring glacier travel and some technical climbing, making it an exciting challenge for experienced mountaineers.

12. The Sawtooth Range

The Sawtooth Range, a part of the Rocky Mountains, is one of Idaho’s defining geographical features. It spans an area of 678 square miles, captivating visitors with its jagged peaks, numerous alpine lakes, and extensive wilderness.

The range has over 50 peaks that exceed 10,000 feet, with Thompson Peak being the highest at 10,751 feet.

The Sawtooth range is a hiker’s paradise, boasting over 350 miles of trails that wind through pristine forests, past crystal-clear lakes, and up challenging mountain ascents.

The range is equally popular among climbers for its array of challenging routes on granite faces. In winter, the range transforms into a snowy wonderland, offering backcountry skiing and snowshoeing opportunities.

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area, encompassing the range, is home to a rich diversity of wildlife including deer, elk, black bears, and mountain goats. It is an important habitat for several endangered species such as gray wolves and chinook salmon.

13. Mount Le Conte, Smoky Mountains

Located in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, Mount Le Conte is known for its stunning beauty and challenging hikes.

Standing at 6,593 feet, Mount Le Conte is the third highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and features a lodge near its summit that is famous for its unique supply delivery system.

The LeConte Lodge, accessible only by hiking, relies on a pack of llamas to transport goods and supplies up the mountainside.

Every week, these hardy animals make the trek up the mountain, carrying everything from clean linens to kitchen supplies on their backs. This sustainable and efficient method of delivery adds to the charm and adventure of a stay at the Le Conte Lodge, offering visitors a chance to witness these wonderful creatures navigating the mountainous terrain.

The sight of llamas laboring up the trails is both a testament to their strength and an unforgettable spectacle for hikers on Mount Le Conte.

14. Bighorn Mountain

Located in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains, Bighorn Mountain is known for its stunning beauty and challenging hikes.

Its terrain varies from lush grasslands to alpine meadows, dense forests, and dramatic mountain vistas, providing a stunning backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts.

The mountain features numerous trails, ranging in difficulty from easy to challenging, making it an ideal destination for both novice hikers and seasoned mountaineers.

Wildlife is abundant on Bighorn Mountain. You may spot deer, elk, moose, and even the occasional black bear. Bird watchers will also be delighted with the variety of bird species inhabiting the area.

In addition to its natural beauty, Bighorn Mountain is steeped in rich history. The mountain and its surroundings were once the hunting grounds of the Crow tribe and played significant roles in the westward expansion of the United States. This blend of nature, adventure, and history makes Bighorn Mountain a fascinating and rewarding destination for any hiking enthusiast.

15. Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier’s unique feature is its glaciers. With 26 major glaciers and 36 square miles of permanent snowfields, it is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States.

Its diverse ecosystems, which range from subalpine wildflower meadows to ancient forests, add to its uniqueness.

Another notable aspect of Mount Rainier is its volcanic origins. It is an active stratovolcano, with a historical record of significant eruptions dating back thousands of years.

While it may seem daunting to some, this volcano poses little threat to nearby communities and is closely monitored by scientists.

Mount Rainier’s beauty and grandeur continue to attract visitors from all over the world. Hikers and climbers come to challenge its rugged terrain, while others prefer leisurely strolls or scenic drives through the national park.

16. Mount Washington

Mount Washington New Hampshire

Mount Washington, standing majestically in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, is renowned for its dramatic weather and magnificent views.

Rising to a height of 6,288 feet, it holds the title of the highest peak in the Northeast United States. The mountain’s most notable claim to fame is the record-breaking wind gust of 231 mph recorded at its summit in 1934, which stood as the highest wind speed ever recorded on earth for many years.

Despite its severe weather conditions, Mount Washington attracts a multitude of adventurers, with hiking, climbing, and skiing being popular activities. The mountain’s unique cog railway, the first of its kind in the world, offers visitors a memorable journey to its summit.

Rich in history and natural beauty, Mount Washington remains a beloved icon in the White Mountains.

17. Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountain range, stretch across the eastern United States from Georgia to Pennsylvania.

Known for their bluish color when seen from a distance, these mountains are home to some of the most spectacular peaks and charming towns.

Among the many peaks, Mount Mitchell stands out as the highest point in the eastern U.S, reaching an impressive 6,684 feet. Its breathtaking views and unique flora and fauna make it a must-visit for nature lovers. Another notable peak is the Grandfather Mountain with its iconic Mile High Swinging Bridge, offering 360-degree views of the surrounding scenery.

In the Blue Ridge Mountains, you’ll find an array of charming towns. Boone, named after the legendary pioneer Daniel Boone, is known for its vibrant arts scene and outdoor activities. Blowing Rock, with its quaint shops and stunning views, is often referred to as the “Crown of the Blue Ridge.”

And then there’s Asheville, a city that combines historic charm with a modern, eclectic vibe. It’s also the gateway to the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, which offers some of the most stunning drives in the country.

These towns and peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with their unique blend of natural beauty, history, and culture, provide endless opportunities for discovery and exploration.

18. El Capitán

El Capitán, a vertical rock formation situated in California’s Yosemite National Park, is a magnet for rock climbers from around the globe.

Towering over 3,000 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor, El Capitán is recognized as the world’s largest granite monolith and a testament to the raw power of geological forces.

The challenge of climbing this imposing edifice is legendary in the climbing world, with its sheer face providing routes that push even the most experienced climbers to their limits.

Nevertheless, the reward of standing atop El Capitán, with panoramic views stretching across the expansive Yosemite wilderness, makes the arduous journey worthwhile.

Even for those who aren’t avid climbers, the sight of El Capitán’s grandeur from the valley floor is a breathtaking spectacle that embodies the untamed spirit of Yosemite National Park.

19. Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea, the highest point in the Hawaiian Islands, is a dormant volcano standing at an impressive height of 13,796 feet above sea level.

However, much of its mass is hidden beneath the ocean’s surface, and when measured from its oceanic base, it is the tallest mountain in the world, surpassing even Mount Everest.

Mauna Kea offers a unique experience for hikers, with a terrain that transitions from tropical to arctic due to its high altitude. The summit, often capped with snow, is home to one of the world’s largest astronomical observatories, making it a haven for stargazers.

Despite its remote location, Mauna Kea holds a deep cultural significance for the native Hawaiian community, and it also serves as a habitat for several endemic species, making it a fascinating and multifaceted destination.


These are just a few of the most beautiful mountains in the US. Whether you’re an experienced mountaineer or just looking for a scenic hike, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in these majestic peaks. So pack your bags and start exploring!

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