10 Tallest Mountains In The United States

Mount Denali Alaska
iStock.com/SteveAllenPhoto

Written by Tracy Graham

Updated: October 5, 2023

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The 10 tallest mountains in the United States might surprise you. When most people think of a mountain they picture a snow-capped peak reaching high into the clouds. One of the defining features of the United States is the majestic mountains that tower over the grasslands in many of the lower 48 states and Alaska. Most of the tallest mountains in the United States are in Alaska.

The pristine glacial beauty of the Alaskan wilderness is something that affects everyone who sees it. But even though most of the tallest mountains in the United States are in Alaska there are also some tall mountains in the lower 48 states like Mount Shasta in California and Mount Rainier in Washington.

Tallest Mountains In The United States

Mount Denali

Mount Denali is the highest peak in the United States at more than 20,000 feet above sea level.

Located in: Alaska

Height: 20,310 feet

Nearby City:  Fairbanks

Known For: Mount Denali is the highest peak in the United States at more than 20,000 feet above sea level. Climbing Mount Denali is extremely difficult. It’s something that people train for years to attempt. More than 32,000 people have tried to climb to the top of Denali and only a small percentage have succeeded. The extremely cold weather, permanent snow and ice on the summit, and the toughness of the terrain combine to make Mount Denali one of the toughest climbs that hikers can attempt. Denali used be called Mount McKinley, after President William McKinley the 25th President of the United States. But the original name given to the mountain by the native people of Alaska was Denali, and in 2015 President Obama officially changed the name of the mountain back to Denali.

Mount Saint Elias

Mount Saint Elias

Mount Saint Elias is the second-highest peak in the United States and in Canada.

Located in: Alaska

Height: 18,455 feet

Nearby City:  Kennicott

Known For: This stunning but challenging mountain lies along the border between Canada and the United States. Mount Saint Elias is the second-highest peak in the United States and in Canada. The sheer mountain face and rugged terrain are just a couple of the challenges that make this mountain a very difficult one to climb. The first climbers tried to conquer this mountain in 1887 and it’s only been climbed about 50 times since then because it’s so challenging. Due to extremely cold and snowy conditions, there is no established path to the summit which makes it even less appealing to mountain climbers and hikers.

Mount Foraker

Mt Foraker

Mount Foraker is also sometimes called Denali’s wife because this peak stands relatively close to Mount Denali.

Located in: Alaska

Height: 17,402 feet

Nearby City:  Fairbanks

Known For: Mount Foraker is also sometimes called Denali’s wife because this peak stands relatively close to Mount Denali. The Dena’ina, who are the native people in the area named the mountain “sultana” but to most people, it’s known as Mount Foraker. This mountain is located right at the fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, directly above the base camp area on Mount Denali and across from both Denali and Mount Hunter.

Mount Bona

Mount Bona

Before attempting to climb Mount Bona climbers must complete several qualifying climbs that give them the experience that they will need to take on the cold temps and tough terrain of Mount Bona.

Located in: Wrangell-St-Elias National Park and Reserve

Height: 16,421 feet

Nearby City:  McCarthy

Known For: Before attempting to climb Mount Bona climbers must complete several qualifying climbs that give them the experience that they will need to take on the cold temps and tough terrain of Mount Bona. After being flown in from Anchorage climbers that want to challenge this mountain can congregate at the bottom of the mountain to see if they have what it takes to make this climb. Mount Bona isn’t technically a mountain, it’s an ice-covered stratovolcano. It’s a tough climb but those who make it can also climb Mount Churchill nearby by taking the East Ridge trail.

Mount Blackburn

Mount Blackburn Alaska

Known For: Mount Blackburn is known for having one of the most dramatic shapes of any of the mountains in Alaska.

Located in: Alaska

Height: 16,391 feet

Nearby City:  McCarthy

Known For: Mount Blackburn is known for having one of the most dramatic shapes of any of the mountains in Alaska. The unique shape of this mountain concealed for many decades that this mountain has two actual peaks, one east and one west. The western peak is almost entirely inaccessible because of the weather and other conditions. However, in 1977 a climber was able to hike from the eastern peak to the western peak becoming the first person on record to make it successfully to both summits.

Mount Sanford

Mount Sanford Alaska

Mount Sanford is famous for is that has the sharpest incline of any mountain in North America.

Located in: Alaska

Height: 16,237 feet

Nearby City:  Anchorage

Known For: Mount Sanford is another volcano, and it’s the highest volcano in the Wrangell Volcano Field. Because the temperatures at the top are always extremely cold there is snow and ice on the top of the summit all the time. One thing that Mount Sanford is famous for is that is has the sharpest incline of any mountain in North America. There is a one mile section near the summit where the mountain has an incline of 1000 feet. That 1000 feet in one mile incline makes Mount Sanford an extremely difficult peak to climb.

Mount Fairweather

Mount Fairweather Alaska

Like most other Alaskan peaks the weather on Mount Fairweather is actually not very fair.

Located in: Alaska

Height: 15,325 feet

Nearby City:  Yakutat

Known For: Mount Fairweather is another mountain that makes up part of the boundary between the United States and Canada. It’s also called Boundary Point 164 when referencing its role as part of the peaks that make up the border division between the two countries. Like most other Alaskan peaks the weather on Mount Fairweather is actually not very fair. Each year Mount Fairweather gets around 100 inches of snow and the temperatures usually linger in the -50 degree range. In fact, the poor weather and clouds keep the summit hidden from view for much of the year.

Mount Hubbard

Mount Hubbard Alaska

Mount Hubbard is one of three large mountains that make up a section of the border between the United States and the Yukon.

Located in: Alaska

Height: 16,000 feet

Nearby City:  McCarthy

Known For: Mount Hubbard is one of three large mountains that make up a section of the border between the United States and the Yukon. The western side of the mountain is mostly sheer face and almost impossible to climb. But the summit of the mountain can be reached from the east by hikers who have the experience and training and determination to brave the cold temperature and ice fields to get to the top.

Mount Bear

Mount Bear Alaska

Mount Bear has a relatively easy to hike approach the work involved to get to the summit is too difficult for most hikers and mountain climbers so not many people attempt to hike or climb Mount Bear.

Located in: Alaska

Height: 14,829 feet

Nearby City:  McCarthy

Known For: Mount Bear is just about four miles from the Yukon border. Like all of the highest peaks in the United States it’s remote and hard to access. Even though Mount Bear has a relatively easy to hike approach the work involved to get to the summit is too difficult for most hikers and mountain climbers so not many people attempt to hike or climb Mount Bear.

Mount Hunter

Mount Hunter Alaska

Mount Hunter in the language of the native people in the area is “Beg­guya” which means child.

Located in: Alaska

Height: 14,574 feet

Nearby City:  Fairbanks

Known For: Mount Hunter is located near Mount Denali and together with Mount Foraker makes up the “family” of mountains that contains Denali. Mount Hunter in the language of the native people in the area is “Beg­guya” which means child. It’s called that because it stands near Denali and Mount Foraker which is called Sultana, or the wife of Denali. Each of the mountains in trio makes the list of tallest mountains in the United States even Denali towers over both of the other two.

10 Tallest Mountains In The Lower 48 States

It’s not really quite fair to consider Alaska when looking at the 10 tallest mountains in the United States because Alaska has so many of the tallest mountains in the United States. No other states can make the list of tallest mountains. If you consider only the lower 48 states the heights of the tallest mountains are much lower, and the mountains occur in a much bigger range of states. The tallest mountains in the United States that aren’t in Alaska are:

  • Mount Rainier, Washington-13,246 feet
  • Mount Whitney, California– 10,078 feet
  • Mount Shasta, California- 9, 752 feet
  • Mount Elbert, Colorado- 9,073 feet        
  • Mount Baker, Washington- 8,812 feet
  • San Jacinto Peak, California- 8,319 feet  
  • San Gorgonio Mountain, California- 8,294 feet   
  • Charleston Peak, Nevada- 8,241 feet
  • Mount Adams, Washington- 8, 116 feet
  • Mount Olympus, Washington – 9, 575 feet

Highest Point In The United States

Mount Denali- 20,310 feet

Summary Of The 10 Tallest Mountains In The United States

RankMountainHeight in FeetLocation
1Mount Denali20,310near Fairbanks, Alaska
2Mount Saint Elias18,455near Kennicott, Alaska
3Mount Foraker17,402near Fairbanks, Alaska
4Mount Bona16,421Wrangell-St-Elias National Park and Reserve, Alaska
5Mount Blackburn16,391near McCarthy, Alaska
6Mount Sanford16,237near Anchorage, Alaska
7Mount Fairweather15,325near Yakutat, Alaska
8Mount Hubbard16,000near McCarthy, Alaska
9Mount Bear14,829near McCarthy, Alaska
10Mount Hunter14,574near Fairbanks, Alaska

What Mountain is Technically the Tallest?

Mauna Kea is actually the world’s tallest mountain if you measure from bottom to top.

If you ask the question, “What’s the tallest mountain in the world?”, you will ten times out of ten get the answer that we all know: Mount Everest. Right? Well, not exactly.

The answer to that query actually lies somewhat hidden in the Hawaiian islands and in their ocean waters! The ancient and dormant volcano Mauna Kea (it can be translated as “White Mountain”) is taller than Mount Everest! The key is to measure the total amount from base to peak. Where Mount Everest reaches 29,032 feet tall, our real winner Mauna Kea towers up to 33,481 feet total; however, over half of its total height is really underwater in the Pacific Ocean.

Not too far away, Hawaii holds the second tallest mountain when you continue to measure from base to peak. This mountain is called Mauna Loa, another active volcano! It too has a great deal of height hiding under the ocean waters.


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