10 Tallest Mountains in the United States
We all know places like Nepal and Pakistan are home to some of the tallest mountains in the world, but what about the United States? Well, although the country doesn’t have any peaks over 8,000 meters, there are some noteworthy mountains to talk about. So, that’s exactly what we’re going to do!
In this article, we’ll go through the 10 tallest mountains in the US, going from smallest to largest. Spoiler alert, they’re all located in the state of Alaska; however, the country’s eleventh-highest mountain, Mount Whitney, is located in California–so close! Without further ado, let’s get into it!
10. Mount Hunter – Alaska
Mount Hunter might only be the tenth-highest mountain in the US, but it’s considered to be one of the most challenging climbs in North America. The mountain stands at a height of 4,442 meters (14,573 feet), and it sits in the Denali National Park. In the climbing community, it’s known for having some of the steepest routes in the region, so despite its lack of height compared to other mountains, reaching its peak is not a walk through the park.
The mountain was first summited in 1954 by a group of legendary climbers. They successfully climbed Mount Hunter using unusual climbing methods, and their achievement has since gone down in the history books. It’s also considered to be the event that put Mount Hunter and several other mountains on the radar of climbers.
9. Mount Bear – Alaska
Over in the Saint Elias Mountains of Alaska, Mount Bear reaches a height of 4,520 meters (14,831 feet). It just barely makes the cutoff of being an American mountain, as it’s only 4.7 miles away from the Canadian order–sorry, Canada. Although it’s the ninth-tallest mountain in the US, it comes in as the twentieth-highest in all of North America.
Compared to Mount Hunter, the routes leading up to the peak are far less technical–it can actually be done via ski mountaineering. But even though the climb itself might not be as difficult as others, its remoteness prevents many people from attempting the climb. If you do find the urge to summit the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with epic views of Mount Logan, Mount Churchill, and Mount Bona.
8. Mount Hubbard – Alaska
Mount Hubbard comes in at 4,557 meters (14,951 feet), putting it just in front of Mount Bear. Before we talk about the mountain, you may be wondering, who’s Hubbard? Well, in 1890, it was named after Greene Hubbard, the first president of the National Geographic Society.
In terms of geography and climbing, the western and eastern sides of the mountain are completely different. Summiting on the western side requires advanced, technical climbing as the terrain is made up of sharp-cutting cliffs. The eastern side, on the other hand, doesn’t require any technical climbing, but trekking over 4,000 meters will still be an enormous physical feat.
7. Mount Fairweather – Alaska, British Columbia
The United States and Canada both get to claim Mount Fairweather (often referred to as Fairweather Mountain) because it sits directly on their border. At 4,653 meters (15,266 feet), it ranks as the seventh-highest mountain. Since it’s only about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Pacific Ocean, it can easily be seen from a ship. In fact, the mountain got its name from Captain James Cook in 1778.
Climbing Mount Fairweather is by no means an easy task. It was first summited in 1931, but that would not be accomplished again until 1958. Today, the mountain still puts climbers to the test due to its problematic weather conditions–ironic, right? There have been multi-year periods of unsuccessful attempts, and usually, only a few groups try each year.
6. Mount Sanford – Alaska
Mount Sanford is a part of the gorgeous Wrangell Mountains and stands at the height of 4,949 meters (16,237 feet). The Wrangell Mountains were actually created by massive eruptions caused by tectonic collisions. Although Mount Sanford once had a fiery past, scientists believe the last eruption happened hundreds of thousands of years ago. So, for the foreseeable future, there’s very little concern about it becoming active.
The mountain was first climbed in 1938. Like other locations in Alaska, summiting doesn’t require technical climbing, but its remoteness makes organizing the journey a struggle and leaves you with little help if something is to go wrong.
Mount Sanford is also tragically known for being the site of the Northwest Airlines Flight 4422 that crashed into it. Sadly, there were no survivors, and it took nearly 50 years to locate the wreckage.
5. Mount Blackburn – Alaska
Mount Blackburn is the fifth tallest in the US, but it gets to boast the reputation of being the highest of all the Wrangell Mountains. The mountain was named after a US senator from Kentucky, Joseph Blackburn, but the name really doesn’t do its beauty justice. At 4,996 meters (16,390 feet), it just barely stands taller than Mount Sanford. Blackburn is identified as an old shield volcano that hasn’t been active in millions of years.
Unlike many other mountains on this list, Mount Blackburn actually has two peaks. But because of nasty weather, attempts to summit these points are far and few between. It’s believed that only around 50 attempts have been made in the last 30 years.
4. Mount Bona – Alaska
Back in the Saint Elias Mountains, Mount Bona, the fourth-highest mountain in the US, has an elevation of 5,044 meters (16,550 feet). Bona was once an active stratovolcano, but its last eruption happened all the way back in 847 AD. Despite being dormant for more than 1,000 years, it’s still technically the tallest volcano in the United States.
Climbing to the top of Bona can take between eight and ten days. The common east ridge route also puts climbing groups in the perfect position to summit the peak of Mount Churchill. Mount Bona attracts many climbers who are preparing to conquer Denali (a mountain you’ll read about shortly) and want to get more experience with high-altitude climbing.
3. Mount Foraker – Alaska
Mount Foraker breaks into the top three tallest mountains, standing at 5,304 meters (17,400 feet). The mountain sits in the Denali National Park, just in front of the Foraker Glacier. It’s believed that native Alaskan tribes referred to the mountain as Denali’s Wife, but it was later named Mount Foraker after a US senator in Ohio–much less metaphorical, right?
The North and South Peaks were both conquered in 1943, which was a remarkable accomplishment as the mountain is well over 5,000 meters. In the 70s, Mount Foraker’s infamous section, Infinite Spur, was completed. The section includes a massive and chaotic section up the south face, and it’s considered one of the greatest challenges in Alaskan climbing.
2. Mount Saint Elias – Alaska Yukon
Coming in as the second tallest mountain in the US, Mount Saint Elias has an elevation of 5,489 meters (18,009 feet). As its name suggests, Saint Elias is the tallest of the Saint Elias Mountains. The mountain was once referred to in Tlingit as Mountain Behind Icy Bay (as it is located right next to Icy Bay) and Big Mountain.
The mountain is well known for its rapid vertical gain, rising to its colossal peak in just 16 kilometers (10 miles). Because of steep climbing, difficult routes, and bad weather, it is rarely climbed today. However, you may be surprised to know that the first successful attempt was back in 1897 when an Italian expedition completed an unimaginable task!
1. Denali (Mount McKinley) – Alaska – The Highest Mountain in the United States
At the top of the list–and the skies of North America–Denali (also referred to as Mount McKinley) is the highest mountain in the US. Denali is 6,190 meters (20,310 feet) tall. Over the years, there has been a bit of controversy about the mountain’s actual height. The argued height difference is only over a few meters, but it’s a strange quirk about the mountain.
But that’s not all of Denali’s controversy. By measuring a mountain from its base to its summit, Denali technically has a taller vertical rise than Mount Everest. But whether or not you agree it’s really taller than Everest, it is without a doubt the tallest mountain in the US!
How Does Mount Kilimanjaro Compare?
If you put Mount Kilimanjaro and the tallest mountains in the US next to each other, you’d see a lot of differences and a few similarities. Alaskan mountains tend to have steep faces and jagged ridgelines, but not Kilimanjaro. The mountain is shaped sort of like a big mound and has a more gradual incline compared with places like Denali and Saint Elias.
Kilimanjaro also has more reliable weather conditions, allowing for much wider windows to hike it. One of the biggest problems about the tallest mountains in the US is the short periods of stable weather. Not to mention, Kilimanjaro doesn’t require any kind of technical climbing; it’s more of an intense hike.
Despite being an easier climbing experience, Kilimanjaro is 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) high, meaning Denali is the only mountain in the United States taller than it. So, why not link up with Climbing Kilimanjaro, and have an epic adventure summiting a beautiful peak?