9 Most Photographed Mountains in the United States

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9 Most Photographed Mountains in the United States

Liz9 Most Photographed Mountains in the United StatesMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Nothing is better than getting some fresh air, gazing at an alpine lake, and taking in views of mountainous silhouettes.

Below we curated the most photographed and beautiful mountains in the US.  In no particular order, you can read about them below and ideally get your own photos of these gorgeous peaks!

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Denali National Park, Alaska – Home of the Highest Mountain in the United States

1.   Denali aka Mt. McKinley, Alaska

Denali, 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.  

The Tallest Mountain in the United States Is in Alaska!

Denali National Park is home to nearly 12,000 lakes and glaciers which 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 a 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.

2.   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.  

Here’s Mt. Rainier From a Plane!

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 Mount 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.

3.   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 colored, 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.

Maroon Bells Is Located Just Outside of Aspen, Colorado

Accessibility to the Maroon Bells is limited by car, and only available before the snow starts to fall.  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, and 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!

The bells are just 10 miles west of Aspen, and 16 miles from Snowmass, just up Maroon Creek road.  You can click here for more information on the Maroon Bells.

4.   Mount 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.

Mt. Shasta Looking Stunning!

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.  

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.

Around Mt. Shasta there is world-class fly fishing, camping, and endless spots to disconnect and enjoy the wildlife.  

5.   Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee/North Carolina  

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.

Add the Great Smoky Mountains to 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 parks backcountry.

6.   Grand Tetons, Wyoming

The Grand Tetons are known as the most astonishing peaks in North America for viewing and for exploring and have over 200 miles of trails throughout the surrounding National Park.

There Is Nothing More Grand Than The Grand Teton!

The park has a number of activities and attractions to cater to every visitors pleasure 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 is 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.

7.   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.

Glacier National Park and All Its Beauty

There are plenty of things to do in Glacier National Park from backpacking and camping to cycling and hiking.

Glacier National 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, hence why it’s one of the most photographed places in the US and has 360-degrees of gorgeous landscape no matter where you look.

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. 

The View From Lake McDonald Is Always Worth It

I would also recommend the Hidden Lake Overlook which is one of the most popular hikes in the park.  From the top you will be able to see jutting mountains, beautiful lakes, and the green forest below.

8.   Mount Baker, Washington

Mount Baker is not only one of the most photographed mountains in the world but it is also 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.  

Mt. Baker Is One of The Best Ski Resorts in the World!

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.  

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.  To put that in perspective, on average Aspen Snowmass, one of the best ski resorts in the world, receives 300 inches of snowfall annually, and that’s a lot of snow!

They say that Mt. Baker enjoys the highest annual snowfall of any resort in the world, an average of 641 inches every year.

9.   Mount 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 #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 US.

Mt. Elbert is a long hike but accessible to those willing to walk at altitude for 5 to 10 hours depending on your pace.  It requires physical fitness but no mountaineering or special skills are necessary.

Mt. Elbert 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 US and we would love to know your top spots and favorite places to photograph peaks!

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Mt Rainier has been named my new favorite mountain after visiting in mid September, the colors were magical and the crisp fall air was so refreshing. This National park needs to be added to your bucket list no question!

This trail is rated as moderate, hiking shoes with decent support recommended, but tennis shoes okay. Most of trail is exposed to sun so beware while on trek.

We were told a bear was spotted that afternoon on another trail, however we didn’t see any. You may see Marmots soaking in the sun along the way, we saw a ton!

Yes, wonderful aspirational list, complete with the usual misleading, if stunning chamber-of-commerce style photos. Curious you left out Yosemite and Pike’s Peak.
(surely they’re more photographed than Baker & Ebert)

About the “misleading” part, if you’d been a bit more candid, you have alerted readers that in recent years out west, the vistas have often been “fogged in” with heavy haze and smoke. (much like eastern mountains in the US used to be smogged in by belching coal factories back into the 70’s, and to a lesser, yet still significant extent to this day.)

The culprit out west in recent years has been the almost omnipresent forest fires. I witnessed this first hand at Glacier NP last month. We had the misfortune to arrive in Kalispell the day after a bad lightnight storm which ignited what became massive fires on the west side of the park — around Lake MacDonald. (which you sooo breezily didn’t mention.) Within a day, the famous “driving to the sun” road that criss-crosses the park was closed for well over half its length. Infuriatingly, park service reps (and local chamber of commerce types) kept up the polyanna lines, proclaiming that the park entrances on the east were still open….. ahem…. nevermind that the views within a day were TERRIBLE across the ENTIRE park. No mountains really to see anywhere. Sure, you could see the now black ‘n white lake vistas, and the gorgeous fauna at your feet… but the post-card like mountain vistas — fuhgettabout it. And this was not unusual….

Chipper Park Service rangers let slip (via a video on their facebook page) that such smoky conditions in recent years have become very common — but never mind, do come, there’s still so much that can be done, amidst the omnipresent haze — and often choking smoke…. (That video was later deleted)

The tourist season at Glacier NP is already extremely short…. less than two months. (The main road didn’t even open this year til mid-july — only to be closed by the fire less than a month later. It recently re-opened to shuttle traffic, but will soon close when fall snows hit)

Ah yes, do enjoy the glitzy post-card pictures of Two-Medicine lake, etc….. But never mind the misleading tourist “stuff” (including here), be prepared to be disappointed.

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Thank you for your comment and we value your opinion.

Weather is definitely something to consider but I’ve been to many on this list and witnessed the beauty firsthand.