30 of America's most stunning mountains

Slide 1 of 31: At any time of year, America's mountains are stunning natural wonders waiting to be explored. Here we've narrowed down some of the best and most beautiful mountains to make the most of the season. As always, if planning a trip, check state travel advisories first and national or state park opening times, restrictions and closures.
1/31 SLIDES © SoisudaS/Shutterstock

Mountains to fall in love with

At any time of year, America’s mountains are stunning natural wonders waiting to be explored. Here we’ve narrowed down some of the best and most beautiful mountains to make the most of the season. As always, if planning a trip, check state travel advisories first and national or state park opening times, restrictions and closures.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
2/31 SLIDES © TravelShotz/Shutterstock

El Capitan, California

The grande dame of Yosemite National Park (along with Half Dome to the east), El Capitan rises proudly from the western side of the Yosemite Valley. Its granite face appears near vertical – a result of glacial action that shaped many of the mountains within the national park. There are several trails suitable for all abilities that make for excellent hikes, especially when the gray granite mountains are contrasted by the lush foliage.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
3/31 SLIDES © Pat Tr/Shutterstock

Teton Range, Wyoming

A mountain range within the Rocky Mountains, the Teton Range is an icon of the Cowboy State. Stretching along the Idaho state line from north to south, the range is mostly within Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, named for the highest mountain in the range. There are almost endless possibilities for trekking and hiking here and trails range from easy walks that take a couple of hours to strenuous full-day climbs.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
4/31 SLIDES © Benny Marty/Shutterstock

Denali, Alaska

Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to explore the remote Denali National Park and Denali mountain. Surrounded by unspoiled landscapes mostly enjoyed by bears, wolves, caribou and moose, it makes for unbelievable hikes. If visiting Denali, be mindful that it’s a true wilderness so you must be prepared. If you want to see the mountain itself, Reflection Pond is one of the most gorgeous viewpoints as Denali is mirrored perfectly in the still water. 

30 of America's most stunning mountains
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30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Mount Washington, New Hampshire

At 6,288 feet (1,917m), Mount Washington is New Hampshire’s highest peak, dominating a verdant valley that bursts with color in every season. However, if you’re not keen on a hike, you’re in luck. The mountain is home to the world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway, in operation since 1869. Brightly colored trains chug along the 3.5-mile (5.6km) track, at a 37% gradient at certain points. At the summit, you’ll have an hour to take in the views that on a clear day include five states, Canada and the Atlantic.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia (and others)

Another one for those not in favor of a hike, the breathtaking Skyline Drive is a dream road trip perfect for taking in the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The serpentine route starts 75 miles (121km) west of Washington DC and follows the crest of the mountains. The narrow 1930s road winds through forests, meadows and steep slopes, and you might even spot white-tailed deer, bobcats or black bears.

Take a look at the most beautiful road trip in every state

30 of America's most stunning mountains
7/31 SLIDES © Colin D. Young/Shutterstock

Adirondack Mountains, New York

A few hours north of New York City, skyscrapers are swapped for mountain peaks, whose snowy winter caps melt into rivers and lakes come spring. Sidewalks are replaced with tree-lined paths and trails, suited for all abilities, that skip past meadows and waterfalls. If you’d rather turn it into a road trip, there are more than 15 scenic drives in the Adirondacks.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Mount Magazine, Arkansas

The highest point in the Natural State, Mount Magazine sits at 2,753 feet (839m), offering panoramic views across its namesake state park. One of the best ways to enjoy this forest-clad landscape is taking the Signal Hill Trail. The trail takes hikers straight to the top of Signal Hill, one of the two summits atop Mount Magazine. It’s an enjoyable 1.5-mile (2.4km) loop around the north and east parts of Signal Hill. 

30 of America's most stunning mountains
9/31 SLIDES © Kevin Ruck/Shutterstock

Pinnacle Mountain, South Carolina

Table Rock, rising to 3,950 feet (1,204m), is the backdrop of this breathtaking state park of the same name. But Pinnacle Mountain is the tallest peak entirely within state borders. There are over 15 miles (24km) of trails, including seven miles (11km) of mountain bike trails and plenty of opportunities to not only reach the summit, but also explore the rivers and valleys. Those looking for a challenge should pick the Pinnacle Mountain Trail. It lasts for some three miles (4.8km) with plenty of steep uphill stretches thrown in along the way.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
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30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Maroon Bells, Colorado

The Elk Mountains in Colorado are crammed full of inspiring viewpoints and winding trails that snake through the enchanting landscapes. Yet nowhere is quite like the Maroon Bells. The two peaks are the most well-known in the region – and for good reason. These soaring mountains are incredible to both climb and look at. The scene is especially serene on sunny days, when the two peaks are reflected in the still water of Crater Lake.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Mount Rogers, Virginia

The scenery of Grayson Highlands State Park is often compared to that of the Alps. Situated close to Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, it’s a paradise filled with mountain-fringed meadows, woodland and waterways and, best of all, it’s home to wild ponies who graze on the park’s grasses. There are 13 different hiking trails as well opportunities for biking and canoeing for those who prefer to take in mountain views from level ground.

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30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Mount Shasta, California

Mount Shasta soars from the Cascades to 14,179 feet (4,322m). While these head-spinning heights remain the reserve of the most daring climbers, there’s no reason why you couldn’t get a fine view of the peak from ground level. The road from Mount Shasta City offers a gorgeous view of the mountain and a 14-mile (22.5km) scenic drive showcases the most picturesque scenery around.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee/North Carolina

The national park in which the Great Smoky Mountains, also known as the Smokies, are located, is the most-visited in the country. Stretching along the Tennessee-North Carolina border and covered in thick green forests, the towering peaks of the mountains are best seen from the highest point – Clingmans Dome. Rising 6,643 feet (2,025m), it’s the highest point along the Appalachian Trail and the observation tower is perfect for taking in the majestic scenery.

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30 of America's most stunning mountains
14/31 SLIDES © Zack Frank/Shutterstock

Cadillac Mountain, Maine

The highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard, Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park rises 1,530 feet (466m) above sea level. Within easy reach from the charming coastal resort Bar Harbor, the summit is the first place in the US that sees sunrise from 7 October through 6 March every year. The pink granite mountain slopes are clad with pine and spruce forests, with the scenic Summit Road carving its way along the northern and eastern side of the mountain until it reaches the top.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
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30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Black Hills, South Dakota/Wyoming

A small and isolated mountain range, the Black Hills rise from the Great Plains of North America. With 5.4 million acres of pine forests, mountains, canyons, lakes and open grasslands, there’s plenty of peace and quiet here. There are several ways to explore these enchanting mountains, including hiking and biking trails as well as scenic byways.

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30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Kenai Mountains, Alaska

While the temperatures might be a bit uncomfortable for an Alaskan hike, there are other ways to take in the raw beauty of the Kenai Mountains. A section of Alaska Route 1, also known as the Seward Highway, runs through several scenic spots like Kenai Peninsula, Kenai Mountains and Chugah National Forest on its route between Anchorage and Seward. The drive takes just four hours to complete, but you could turn it into a two-day itinerary to properly take in the jagged peaks and alpine meadows.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
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San Juan Mountains, Colorado/New Mexico

The Rockies might be Colorado’s most famous, but the San Juan Mountains have one of the best scenic drives in the world – the San Juan Skyway. Winding for 233 miles (375km) through the mountains, there are fascinating places to stop, from historic railroad town Durango to ski resort Telluride. But it’s the twists and turns, at some points revealing mountain-ringed lakes and at others bringing you to the edge of dramatic canyons, that’ll linger longest in your memory.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
18/31 SLIDES © Shanshan0312/Shutterstock

White Mountains, New Hampshire

A destination that attracts plenty of leaf-peepers in the fall, the White Mountains and the dense White Mountain National Forest that covers the slopes are simply magnificent in any other season too. One of the best ways to enjoy the scenery is driving the Kancamagus Scenic Byway. The road follows the path of the Swift River and hiking trails peel off the road and into the forest, offering a chance to combine a road trip with a hike or a casual stroll.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Wasatch Mountains, Utah

Too often Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and the state park of the same name get overlooked in favor of some of the state’s more famous names, but this quieter corner of Utah is worth a visit. The scenic trails wind through a protected area of forested peaks and rolling hills, covering 23,000 acres. There are also six canyons, mountain ski towns and backcountry hideaways to explore here too.

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30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Cheaha Mountain, Alabama

Cheaha Mountain offers unparalleled views over the surrounding Talladega National Forest, which is a lush green until it bursts into hues of rust and blonde once fall settles in. Many visitors favor sunset or sunrise hikes on the trails that wiggle through the forested park, which is punctured by waterfalls and scenic lookout points. There’s also a handful of campgrounds and cabins for longer stays.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Ozark Mountains, Arkansas (and others)

Simply known as the Ozarks, these mountains offer pristine rivers, cascading waterfalls and 75 miles (121km) of horse riding, hiking or biking trails. The isolated Buffalo River Trail is one of the best to take in gorgeous views and if you’re lucky you might even see otters, bobcats and bald eagles. The mountains are surrounded by the lush Ozark–St. Francis National Forest.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
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North Cascades, Washington

A section of the Cascade Range that spans western North America, the North Cascades are within a national park of the same name. The beauty here is undeniable – glacier crowns mountain peaks, forested trails lead to tall waterfalls and lakes are the color of creamy turquoise. A visit almost any time of the year comes with opportunities to spot bears, gray wolves and more than 200 species of bird.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Sangre de Cristo Mountains, New Mexico/Colorado

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains and the mountain slopes look more like a painting in any season. One of the best ways to explore the scenery is by taking on the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway – a picturesque driving route that starts in Taos and slices through the peaks.

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30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Mount Mansfield, Vermont

It’s no secret that Stowe in Vermont is perhaps America’s most famous fall destination but if you’re willing to hike, Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield, supplies incredible vistas of the enchanting landscape in any season. There’s also an option to zig zag your way up the mountain along the historic Auto Toll Road, originally completed for horse-drawn carriages to reach the hotel at the top, and the Gondola SkyRide. On a clear day, the scenery is simply incredible.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Catskill Mountains, New York

Located in the southeastern corner of the state, the Catskills have long been a sought-after destination for New Yorkers longing for nature. Those who venture here are rewarded with some of the best views. Other than the always stunning Catskills waterfalls, there’s the Catskills Scenic Trail, a multi-use trail that runs along the former Ulster and Delaware Railroad, and the Catskill Mountain Railroad.

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30 of America's most stunning mountains
26/31 SLIDES © Tetyana Ohare/Shutterstock

Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania

With the Upper Delaware River winding its way through the Poconos, this is a serene landscape to explore. There are several trails bisecting the mountains as well as a few resorts dotted about. The eastern edge’s Delaware Water Gap has some of the best views in the area. Both PA 611 and I-80 will take you past the jaw-dropping scenery of the Gap while Rim Road, looping round the mountaintop, offers bird’s-eye views from the comfort of your car.

This is the most scenic byway in every state

30 of America's most stunning mountains
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Chisos Mountains, Texas

A mountain range located in Big Bend National Park, Chisos, as they’re also known, form the heart of the park. Characterized by dramatic and seemingly endless landscapes, the park gives a feeling of complete isolation. Here, rivers have carved vast caverns out of limestone and the mountains sit surrounded by the Chihuahuan Desert. There’s a seven-mile (11.2km) paved road that climbs into the mountain basin where an extensive network of hiking trails start, ranging from half-mile (800m) strolls to challenging trails up to 14 miles (22.5km) long.

30 of America's most stunning mountains
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North Georgia Mountains, Georgia

The Tallulah Gorge, carving its way through the mountains, is nothing short of spectacular. Dramatically plunging to 1,000 feet (305m), the water carves its way through two miles (3.2km) of forest-covered rock. The hiking trails winding around the rim of the canyon offer spectacular views across burnt orange and blushing red foliage in fall and lush green in summer. Highlights of the park include the gushing Hurricane Falls, which is accessible via the Hurricane Falls Trail, a two-mile (3.2km) loop studded with scenic outlooks.

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