While any discussion of the world’s tallest mountains rightly revolves around the Himalayas of Asia, the United States has an extremely impressive collection of peaks in its own right. With notorious Mount Everest holding down the world’s top spot at a whopping 29,029 feet above sea level, Nepal boasts not only the tallest mountain but eight of the top ten. While none of the American peaks manage to break into the planet’s top one hundred, we do have one of the largest groups of 14,000-foot+ summits to be found anywhere in the world. So, what are the tallest mountains in the United States?
Anyone who has had the chance to visit Alaska will probably not be surprised to learn that America’s far northern frontier is home to all ten of the highest peaks in the country. Once we get past these ancient behemoths, however, a variety of regions begin to appear on the list, including California, Washington and Colorado, three of our country’s most beloved hiking locales. Here are the top 20 tallest mountains in the US, in case you’re looking to start checking places off on your list.
List of the Tallest Mountains in the United States
1. Denali (Alaska Range, Alaska) – elev. 20,310 ft
As you can tell from the photo above, Denali is monstrous and mythical. Visiting this remote mountain is a right of passage for any intrepid climber. As dangerous as it is picturesque, Denali is a giant natural playground for nature lovers—even for those who limit their excursions to hiking and taking photographs.
Learn more about Denali in this Seven Summits list.
2. Saint Elias (Saint Elias Mountains, Alaska) – elev. 18,009 ft
Located further south east near the Canadian border, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park hosts nine of the peaks on this list. It is the largest national park in the United States, an incredible six times the size of Yellowstone. Or, to look at it another way, it is the size of Yellowstone, Yosemite and the entire country of Switzerland combined. Needless to say, there is plenty to explore.
3. Foraker (Alaska Range, Alaska) – elev. 17,400 ft
4. Bona (Saint Elias Mountains, Alaska) – elev. 16,550 ft
5. Blackburn (Wrangell Mountains, Alaska) – elev. 16,390 ft
6. Sanford (Wrangell Mountains, Alaska) – elev. 16,237 ft
7. Fairweather (Saint Elias Mountains, Alaska) – elev. 15,325 ft
8. Hubbard (Saint Elias Mountains, Alaska) – elev. 14,951 ft
9. Bear (Saint Elias Mountains, Alaska) – elev. 14,831 ft
10. Hunter (Alaska Range, Alaska) – elev. 14,573 ft
11. Whitney (Sierra Nevada, California) – elev. 14,505 ft
The first mountain on this list outside of Alaska, Mount Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous United States. Despite being located just hours from some of the country’s largest population centers, the Sierra Nevada range offers some of the best hikes in North America.
12. Alverstone (Saint Elias Mountains, Alaska) – elev. 14,500 ft
13. University Peak (Saint Elias Mountains, Alaska) – elev. 14,470 ft
14. Elbert (Sawatch Range, Colorado) – elev. 14,440 ft
The extraordinary Sawatch Range can be found a few hours west of Denver. It is around 100 miles long and contains fifteen of Colorado’s famous “Fourteeners”. Famous for both stunning scenery and fickle late summer storms, the Sawatch mountains are considered mandatory for serious mountaineers around the world.
15. Massive (Sawatch Range, Colorado) – elev. 14,428 ft
16. Harvard (Sawatch Range, Colorado) – elev. 14,421 ft
17. Rainier (Cascade Range, Washington) – elev. 14,417 ft
Located just outside of Seattle, Mount Rainier is the lone entry on this list from the Pacific Northwest. And it sure dominates its surroundings. The mountain can be seen from as far away as Oregon and Vancouver Island, and even has a greater prominence (the height of the summit relative to its lowest contour line) than K2. In short, it is seriously noticeable (when it’s not raining, of course).
18. Williamson (Sierra Nevada, California) – elev. 14,379 ft
19. Blanca Peak (Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Colorado) – elev. 14,351 ft
Found in the far south of Colorado near the New Mexico border, its Spanish name translates to “White Peak” in the “Blood of Christ” mountains. It was also known to the Navajo people as the “Sacred Mountain of the East”.
20. La Plata Peak (Sawatch Range, Colorado) – elev. 14,343 ft
Clearly, anyone who has ever doubted the availability of massive mountain ranges in America needs to rethink their position and visit some of these domestic giants. They may not be the highest in the world, but they compare favorably with any other country for sheer number and outstanding scenery.
Try to name the countries where some of the world’s most famous mountains are located.