9 Most Photographed Mountains in the United States
They really are a spectacular sight to see. Everyone should go visit (and photograph) these mountains if they ever get the chance.
Denali aka Mt. McKinley, Alaska
Denali, the name of the HIGHEST mountain in North America sits at the centerpiece of Denali National Park and Preserve in south-central Alaska. The mountain sits 20,310 feet above sea level and is the third most prominent and third most isolated peak on Earth, following Mount Everest in Nepal and Aconcagua in Argentina.
Denali National Park is home to nearly 12,000 lakes and glaciers that cover roughly one million acres of the park, about one sixth of the entire park, which encompasses six million acres of wild land. Wild animals roam free on these unfenced lands and you can see wildlife all year round.
To climb to the top of Denali takes an experienced mountaineer, skilled climber, and avid outdoorsman. There are world-class mountaineering and climbing routes on the peak that are only for the very established mountaineer. You need special equipment, guides or experts to get to the top of this gnarly peak.
For those looking to photograph the peak, it won’t be hard to get a good view once you’re in the park. The morning is the prime time to see the peak before it’s shrouded in clouds. Hikes to popular locations are accessible via bus, shuttle or car. Mid-June to mid-July is the peak time for wildlife. So if you want a vibrant shot, that’s the time to get it.
Mt. Rainier, Washington
Mount Rainier is the highest mountain in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest and the tallest peak in Washington with an elevation of 14,411 feet above sea level. It is an icon in the Washington landscape and most accessible from Mount Rainier National Park.
Mount Rainier is an active volcano and is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of its large amount of glacial ice. The peak is located just east of Eatonville and southeast of Seattle and Tacoma, if you want to fly in to visit the peak. You will be able to see the volcano from your plane because it will be the tallest peak in eyesight.
When photographing Mt. Rainier, you can’t go wrong. Head into the park, and there will be endless hikes and vantage points to get just the right angle. If you’re an experienced alpinist, you can also opt to climb the peak and get a view from the summit.
Maroon Bells, Colorado
Located minutes outside of the famous ski town, Aspen, Colorado, the Maroon Bells are said to be the most photographed peaks in North America. The gorgeous red, jagged peaks are surrounded by pristine National Forest land and make this one of the most spectacular views in the world. You can explore the entire glacial valley surrounded by 14,000 foot peaks (fourteeners as the mountaineers call it), and it will never get old.
Accessibility to the Maroon Bells is limited by car, and only available before the snow starts to fall. The bells are just 10 miles west of Aspen, and 16 miles from Snowmass, just up Maroon Creek road. During peak summer season, there are bus tours running up to Maroon lake, directly below the peaks from 8:30 am until 5:00 pm. The Aspen buses are clean, convenient, consistent and really help when there is a parking crunch. Outside of these hours, you can take your car up. The road is also accessible to non-motorized vehicles at any time of day, free of charge, so if you’re into road biking, rollerblading, or even skateboarding, consider earning your views!
Leaf peepers also frequent the bells from mid-September to early October to get one of the best foliage views in the world. The surrounding Aspen trees really start to change color, and it is one of the most magical, sought out views in the world, especially when the first snows start to fly.
The best time to photograph the Maroon Bells is first thing in the morning. Something about the stillness of the water on Maroon Lake creates a perfect mirror effect which reflects the bells perfectly. Sunset is also a great time to check out these magesties. The red and pink “alpenglow” shines onto the peaks in the most glorious way!
Mt. Shasta, California
Mount Shasta sits in the Cascade Range in Siskiyou County, California. With an elevation of 14,179 feet, it’s the second highest peak in the Cascades and fifth in the state. You can ski, hike, or climb Mt. Shasta. But you don’t have to summit or even consider climbing it to get the spectacular views and enjoy the alpine paradise. There are easy hiking paths and loops through wildflower-filled meadows, into alpine forests and along the rivers where you can see waterfalls and streams. Around Mt. Shasta, there is world-class fly fishing, camping and endless spots to disconnect and enjoy the wildlife.
Mt. Shasta rises from surrounding flatlands in a perfect, cone-shaped peak formation, and you can get spectacular photographs year round. The snow topped mountains look beautiful from all angles, and I highly recommend going to get that perfect photo at sunrise. Check out these practically secret national parks you’ll definitely want to visit.
Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee/North Carolina
Dave Allen Photography/Shutterstock
Although the Great Smoky Mountains are not one specific peak, they are a beautiful mountain range saddling Tennessee and North Carolina and need to be on your bucket list.
The Great Smoky Mountains have great hiking available all year round and have trails accessible to every age and ability level. The most popular hiking destinations are Charlies Bunion, Alum Cave Bluffs, Andrews Bald, Rainbow Falls, and Chimney Tops. The hikes take you to waterfalls, great views, old-growth forests, and endless adventure.
You can also do a multi-day hiking trip if you’re feeling super adventurous, but you need a reservation and permit to stay overnight in the park’s backcountry.
Grand Tetons, Wyoming
The Grand Tetons are known as the most astonishing peaks in North America for viewing and exploring and have over 200 miles of trails throughout the surrounding national park. The park has a number of activities and attractions to cater to every visitor’s pleasures including, lakes, rivers (the Snake is a personal favorite), campgrounds, bike trails, and wildflowers. The Grand Teton is the highest peak in the Teton range, and it’s a classic American spot for mountaineering and climbing.
Schwabacher’s Landing is my favorite spot to snap photos in the entire park. Take a cruise along the river, and you will come upon endless options for photos. If you bring some river shoes, you can take some shots from mid-river where other souls might not dare to go. The mountains are much more accessible in the summer, but the winter provides some stunning photo opportunities. The sharp jagged white capped peaks against the blue bird Wyoming sky provides some of the best photos. These are the most majestic mountain towns in America.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park is not one peak but a gigantic national park spanning 1,583 square miles of gorgeous wilderness in Montana’s Rocky Mountains. There are glacier-carved peaks, turquoise lakes, deep valleys and over 700 miles of hiking trails. There are plenty of things to do in Glacier National Park from backpacking and camping to cycling and hiking. The park has tons of native plant and animal species and is home to grizzly bears, mountain goats, moose and Canadian lynxes. There are hundreds of species of birds, lots of fish species, and a forest like you have never seen before.
Everywhere you go in the National Park, you will be sure to get a good photo. With 360 degrees of gorgeous landscape no matter where you look, it’s no wonder it’s one of the most photographed places in the United States. If I had to recommend two places to get the best photographs, I would head to Lake McDonald and wake up for sunrise or stay out until sunset. The color of the sky reflected on the water will be unbeatable.
I would also recommend the Hidden Lake Overlook which is one of the most popular hikes in the park and from the top you will be able to see jutting mountains, beautiful lakes, and the green forest below.
Mt. Baker, Washington
Mount Baker is not only one of the most photographed mountains, but it also has one of the best ski resorts in the world. It’s an active glaciated andesitic stratovolcano and sits in northern Washington. Mt. Baker has an elevation of 10,718 feet, and people say it’s more breathtaking up close than any other peak in the Cascade Range. One of the coolest things about Mt. Baker is if you don’t want to photograph it from afar and are not an experienced mountaineer, you’re more than welcome to take a chairlift up to the top and ski or ride down taking pictures the whole way.
The Mt. Baker ski area is home to the world’s greatest recorded snowfall in one season: a whopping 1,140 inches was received during the 1998-99 season. They say that Mt. Baker enjoys the highest annual snowfall of any resort in the world, an average of 641 inches every year. To put that in perspective, on average, Aspen Snowmass, another of the best ski resorts in the world, receives 300 inches of snowfall annually. That’s a lot of snow! Don’t miss these stunning photos of national parks in the winter.
Mt. Elbert, Colorado
Mt. Elbert is the tallest peak in Colorado and the highest summit in the Rocky Mountain Range. It sits at 14,440 feet and is number 1 of the 53 “14ers” in Colorado. Mt. Elbert is located in San Isabel National Forest just outside the city of Leadville, which is the highest incorporated city and the second highest municipality in the U.S.
Mt. Elbert is a long hike but accessible to those willing to walk at altitude for five to ten hours depending on your pace. It requires physical fitness but no mountaineering or special skills are necessary. The mountain is often referred to as the “gentle giant” because even though it’s the tallest mountain in Colorado, if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, you are sure to make it to the top (weather permitting).
There are breathtaking mountains all over the country, and we would love to know your top spots and favorite places to photograph peaks. Comment below with your favorite mountains. Next, read about these natural wonders you’ve probably never heard of.