The World’s Most Beautiful Mountain Ranges

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For as long as humans have existed, mountains have inspired and daunted us. They’re the basis for countless legends, and although they can be deadly, have an irresistible pull on us, drawing millions of sightseers, hikers, climbers, skiers, and other outdoor enthusiasts every year. Making a definitive list of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world is subjective, but the ones here are certainly strong contenders.

These mountain ranges were chosen because of their breathtaking beauty, unique characteristics, and the awe they inspire in all who see or visit them. Each stands out for its geological features, historical significance, or the challenging adventures it offers. Their inclusion reflects a blend of natural grandeur, ecological importance, and the sense of wonder they evoke, making them the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world.

1. The Himalaya

The Himalaya
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The world’s highest mountain range, the Himalayas, covers parts of India, Nepal, and Tibet. They are home to nine of the world’s 14 Eight-Thousanders, peaks over 8000 m (26,246’) in altitude. These peaks are some of the most difficult and dangerous in the world to climb, and elite mountaineers hold them as prized objectives. Everest, the planet’s highest peak, is among them.

2. The Karakoram

The Karakoram
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The remaining five Eight-Thousanders are all in the Karakoram, specifically in the Baltistan region of Pakistan. The most famous among them is K2, the world’s second-highest peak. It’s widely regarded as the hardest and most dangerous mountain in the world to climb due to its oxygen-depriving altitude, ferocious weather, and difficult terrain.

Many mountains in the Himalayas and Karakoram break into the “Death Zone,” which starts at 25,000’ and is where the scarce oxygen means bodies actually start to die. This makes time crucial when climbing any of these peaks. Fortunately, travelers can go trekking in both these ranges and enjoy their beauty without getting close to the Death Zone.

3. The Alps

The Alps
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The legendary Alps are where modern mountain climbing began. These majestic mountains cross eight different European countries and contain subranges, such as the Swiss Alps and the Italian Dolomites, each with its own characteristics. Some of the world’s most famous and iconic mountains, like Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, are found here.

4. The Atlas Mountains

The Atlas Mountains
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The Atlas Mountains, running for more than 1500 miles across the northwestern African countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, are a wall separating the Atlantic and Mediterranean from the Sahara Desert. Their snow-capped peaks provide a stark contrast against the barren desert below them.

5. The Southern Alps

The Southern Alps
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The Lord of the Rings film trilogy relies heavily on CGI for many characters and battle scenes. Given that, you can be excused for thinking that the amazing mountain scenery in the films must also be CGI, but if you do, you’re actually wrong. Those mountains are part of New Zealand’s spectacular Southern Alps, which extend along much of the South Island.

6. The Canadian Rockies

The Canadian Rockies
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From Alaska to the southern tip of South America, there is a nearly unbroken line of mountain ranges. The Rocky Mountains proper run from Canada down into New Mexico, but many consider the ranges north and south of them as extensions of the main system. Regardless, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of subranges within the Rockies. One of the most spectacular is the Canadian Rockies, which straddle Alberta and British Columbia and reach their glacier-draped glory in Alberta’s Banff National Park.

A drive up or down the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper is unforgettable. You can even get out of the car and walk on the Athabasca Glacier.

7. The Bugaboos

The Bugaboos
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The Bugaboos are a subrange located within the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia. Because of their proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the mountains of B.C. receive prodigious amounts of rain and snow, which helps explain the massive glaciers found in the Bugaboos. The granite spires here attract mountaineers from all over the world. If you’re not a mountain climber, you can still appreciate these peaks by making a trip to Bugaboo Provincial Park.

8. The Cascade Range (Cascades)

The Cascade Range
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The Cascades dominate the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., running from British Columbia down into Northern California. Pacific storms hitting these mountains with their full force support massive glaciers and year-round snow. Although there are scattered peaks and subranges, the Cascades are best known for their dormant volcanoes, such as Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, and Mount Shasta.

Rainier itself, sometimes called the “Giant Ice Cube,” has more glaciated cover than any other mountain in the Lower 48.

9. The Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada
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John Muir called it the “Range of Light” and drew endless inspiration from this California range that in Spanish means “snowy mountains.” Ansel Adams made art of it with his black-and-white photography.

Most people think of the iconic Yosemite Valley when they think of the Sierra Nevada, but that isn’t the true heart of the range; you’ll find it among the jagged pink and white granite peaks that form the crest of the range. They’re best seen from the Tioga Pass Road in Yosemite National Park and from the Owens Valley on the range’s eastern side.

10. The Teton Range

The Teton Range
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Often mistakenly called the “Grand Tetons” (the highest peak in the range is the Grand Teton), the Tetons of Wyoming are one of the most famous and most visited mountain ranges in the U.S. and attract visitors from all over the world. Steep and majestic, they grace countless calendars and movie backdrops. Penetrating their heights is only for the strongest hikers and climbers, but it’s easy to view them from the road and from easy trails that meander along lakeshores in the valley below.

11. The Wind River Range

The Wind River Range
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Running from Union Pass to South Pass in Wyoming, the “Winds” are the Sierra Nevada of Wyoming and home to Gannett Peak, the state’s highest. The soaring granite peaks carved by glaciers and sheltering the largest glaciers in the Lower 48 outside Washington don’t give up their secrets easily; with a few exceptions, it takes 12 or more miles of hiking to get into the heart of the range, which is also home to the world-famous climbing destinations Titcomb Basin and the Cirque of the Towers.

If that’s not your thing, you’re in luck; you can get spectacular views of the “Roof of Wyoming” around the town of Pinedale, a fun gateway community.

12. The Andes

The Andes
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That spine of mountains previously mentioned arguably reaches its apex in the South American Andes. Here, you’ll find the highest peaks in the world outside Asia. Mount Aconcagua, at 22,838’, is the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere and #2 on the list of the Seven Summits, which covers the highest peak on each continent.

13. Pamirs

Pamir mountains
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Part of the wider Himalaya system, the Pamirs of Kyrgyzstan are among the world’s highest, and their highest peak just breaks into the Death Zone. The unofficial name of this towering range is “The Roof of the World.”

14. Tian Shan

Tian Shan
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In the native tongue, the name of this range means “Mountains of God/Heaven,” and with peaks surpassing 24,000’ in altitude, the name fits. These mountains, also part of the extended Himalaya system, form the border between China, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

15. Alborz Range

Alborz Range
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From northern Iran into Azerbaijan, this range of high, rugged peaks delights, challenges, and inspires. Mt. Damavand, Iran’s highest peak at 18,410’, is in this range.

16. Grampian Mountains

Grampian Mountains, Scotland
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The legendary Highlands of Scotland contain three separate mountain ranges, the Grampians being the highest and most spectacular. Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest peak, is a perpetual challenge to climbers due to its extreme and unpredictable weather.

17. Snowdonia

Image Credit: Lukassek/Shutterstock

This mountainous region in northwestern Wales has inspired outdoor lovers and artists for centuries. Although its highest peak is only 3560’, the climate and latitude create an alpine feel that mountains of similar height far to the south would simply lack.

18. Atlas Mountains

Atlas Mountains in Morocco
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Running for more than 1500 miles across the northwestern African countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, the Atlas Mountains are a wall separating the Atlantic and Mediterranean from the Sahara Desert. Their snow-capped peaks provide a stark contrast against the barren desert below them.

19. Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains
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These mountains in New South Wales of Australia aren’t all that high compared to the world’s great ranges, but they make up for their lack of stature with incredible beauty. Hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing are popular activities in this range not far from Sydney.

20. Alaska Range

Mount Denali
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Ranging for about 600 miles in Alaska, these mountains include Denali Peak, the highpoint of Alaska, the U.S., and all of North America. One of the “Seven Summits,” the highest peaks of each continent, Denali is on many lists as the second-most-challenging due to the combination of altitude issues, extreme weather, and a short climbing season.

21. Arrigetch Peaks

Arrigetch Peaks
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Tucked away in Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic National Park, these granite spires are among the most spectacular and least seen mountains in the world. That’s because there’s no easy way to get to them; since no roads reach the park, you have to charter a plane or hoof it across the vast Arctic tundra.

22. Panamint Range

Panamint Range in Death Valley National Park
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A mountain wall separating Death Valley from the Sierra Nevada, the Panamints are an island of cool air in the inferno of the Mojave Desert. Most impressive of them all is Telescope Peak, which rises over 11,000’ from the valley floor at Badwater Basin, the lowest and hottest point in North America.

23. Lewis and Clark Range

Lewis and Clark Range
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One of several ranges encompassed by Montana’s Glacier National Park, Glacier is probably the most spectacular. Although its peaks are nowhere near the highest in the Rockies, their colors and jagged, glacier-carved forms are unparalleled.

24. Sawtooth Range (Montana)

Sawtooth Range
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South of Glacier and accessible from a handful of tiny towns is this gem that few people outside Montana know about. Rugged limestone peaks rise above the Great Plains here, and the raw wilderness is like a snapshot of America before it existed.

25. Sawtooth Range (Idaho)

Sawtooth Range (Idaho)
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Mountainous Idaho also has several ranges that could make this list, but we’ll settle on the Sawtooths for now. Located in the central part of the state, they truly live up to their name as a line of jagged peaks soaring above the valleys below.

26. Absaroka Range

Absaroka Range
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The largest and widest mountain range of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is also its wildest. Dark peaks formed from volcanic rock loom like the walls of Mordor, and the remoteness and vastness make the range, which runs from Wyoming into Montana, a haven for wildlife. The ruler of them all is the grizzly bear; outside Alaska, there is nowhere else home to as many of them.

27. Elk Range

Elk Range
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If you aren’t familiar with the name, you probably still have seen these Colorado mountains either in person or in photos because of their world-famous peaks: the Maroon Bells. The Elks are arguably the prettiest mountains in the state for their steep, sharp profiles. If Elk Range has any rival, it would be the San Juan Mountains.

28. San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
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Volcanic in origin, the San Juans are Colorado’s biggest range and likely its most colorful and rugged. It’s also home to some of the state’s most beautiful peaks, including Mt. Sneffels, the Wetterhorn, and Wilson Peak. Wilson is the peak famously pictured on cans of Coors Light (even though Coors is brewed under different mountains over 200 miles away).

29. The Andes

South American Andes
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Explore the Amazing Rocky Mountains at These National Parks

Vail Colorado Rocky Mountains -
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The Rocky Mountains are a vast and varied playground. Every year, the mountain range attracts hundreds of thousands of skiers, mountain bikers, and outdoor enthusiasts who come to explore the 3,000 miles of trails that wind through the peaks and valleys.

Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or a peaceful hike in nature, these National Parks will leave you in awe of the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

Explore The Amazing Rocky Mountains At These National Parks

Washington’s 12 Best State and National Parks

mount rainier - DP
Photo Credit: Deposit Photo.

re you ready to get out and experience Washington’s beautiful landscapes? Is mountaineering or hiking at the top of your list this summer? There are 124 Washington State parks. Whether you’re a native Washingtonian or on vacation, here are eight state parks that will leave you longing for more time in the great Pacific Northwest wilderness.

Washington’s 12 Best State and National Parks

This article was produced by Our Woven Journey. Featured Image Credit: carlesmiro/Shutterstock

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Robert Sihler is an educator, freelance writer, and rock climbing guide and instructor living with his family in Driftwood, Texas. In his spare time, he enjoys reading fiction, streaming films, completing crossword puzzles, and rock climbing. When he goes on vacation, he likes to visit the mountains of the West and climb remote, obscure peaks that have seen few or no prior ascents.