Nearly every state in the United States has some mountain or tall hill they call a mountain. Interestingly enough, though, the definition of the term is a bit lax and may range anywhere from tall-ish hills in a mostly flat region (think Florida) to the “defined” term of anything more than 2,000 feet taller than its base.
Taking the second approach (2,000-plus feet above the base), 28 states can claim host of mountains. Let’s take a look at these states with mountains, ranking them from most picturesque to least so.
States Without Mountains
Based on the standard of 2,000-plus feet from the base upward definition of “mountain,” the following states do not contain any mountains.
- Rhode Island
Beyond these, several others do not contain what most folks would consider true mountains, including the following. These states, however, may appear mountainous to those driving through, as the hills do reach, in certain areas, greater than 1,600 feet, but less than 2,000 feet.
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
States with the Most Majestic Mountain, Ranked First to Last
With over 330 mountains and major hills, Alaska offer no shortage of incredible landscapes to steal the breath away. The Kenai Fjords, Denali National Park, the Gates to the Artic, and all the Northern Lights displays may be the most famous sights in the state, but the beauty is unending. Nearly every corner turned reveals another wonder, with vibrant snowscapes, fascinating wildlife, and awe-inspiring waterfalls, mountainsides, lakes, rivers, and islands to explore. Take a train ride to experience the Northern Lights in all their glory. Hike through the national parks and state parks for the wildlife encounters of your dreams. Or drive along the coastline for the most incredible sights of your life. Alaska will never disappoint with its incredible, natural beauty and all the massive mountains to explore.
Offering nearly 50 mountains, Oregon centers perfectly between California and Washington, completing the incredible landscapes of the West Coast. The state offers rugged coastlines, temperate desert, evergreen wildernesses, incredible beaches, and magnificent caves. The mountains and volcanoes round out the fantastic beauty of the state, with wine country, beaches, and fanciful cities doing the rest of the work. You’ll want to indulge in all the natural wonders of the state through exploring the many national recreation areas, national forests, historic sites, and the famous Crater Lake National Park, while taking in the mountain views all over.
You might expect Alaska to have the most mountains of all the states, but California actually outperforms the last Frontier by nearly 100 mountains. Overall, California has more than 400 mountains and major peaks, with incredible views all throughout the state of all terrain types. California hosts numerous national parks, including Redwood, Sequoia, Death Valley, and Yosemite, to name a few, as well as numerous state parks. You’ll find incredibly lush, gorgeous wine country, desert terrain, lakes, rivers, and, of course, the famous California coastline. Stunning cliff views, mountain top hiking, and coastal views make California one of the most incredibly serene and beautiful natural playgrounds of the country. Add in the major cities and intriguing small towns and you’ve got an all around winner for beauty and culture unlike any other in the world.
Some might find it surprising to note Utah so high on the list of picturesque mountain states, but Utah has over 100 mountains. The incredible state isn’t just full of deserts and salt flats. In fact, the state hosts numerous gorgeous lakes, rivers, snow-capped peaks, and vibrant wildlife habitats. You’ll find this landlocked state is filled with numerous national parks and state parks worthy of hours on end of simple admiration. Some include the Zion National Park, Goblin Valley, Moab canyon lands, Bonneville Salt Flats, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon, and many others. Hike, white water raft, go caving, mountain climb, forage, swim, boat, or enjoy any other outdoor activity anywhere in the state for some of the most incredible natural wonders in the world.
Potentially the most famous state for its mountains is Colorado. It ranks high among the most scenic states in the country for sure, with all the massive peaks and gorgeous valleys. Overall, the state has nearly 500 mountain peaks, beating out California even for mountain numbers. The gorgeous mountain lakes, beachfront landscapes (lakes and rivers, of course), desert regions, and plains all add to the beauty of the scenery. If you prefer sandstone, head southward. If you love the Rockies and want to climb the heights of some of the tallest mountains in the country, head to Lake County. Be sure to drink in the stunning views from the national parks, including Rocky Mountains, Mesa Verde, Canyonlands, and Arches National Parks, to name a few.
Another absolutely stunning state with numerous mountains is the often-overlooked Idaho. The state contains nearly 60 mountains and has pieces of Yellowstone National Park within. You’ll also find the incredible Coeur d’Alene within the state boundaries, and the Snake River. Here you can take in the incredible views of all those mountains from incredible farm-filled valleys, lake and river shores, and, of course, scenic meadows and fields. The Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho are some of the most incredible you’ll see in the country, with numerous other opportunities for hiking, fishing, boating, rafting, and trail running. You’ll also find plenty of ranch-based horseback riding with some of these incredible views. Be sure to Craters of the Moon National Wilderness and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness for the most fantastic wildlife and scenic experiences.
With over 200 mountains and the world-famous Glacier National Park, Montana has no shortage of incredible, stunning landscapes for visitors and locals to love. The excessively scenic state also contains much of Yellowstone National Park and several other national monuments, historic sites, and scenic areas. Several National Forests, Wildernesses, and Recreation Areas help make up much of the rest of the state’s terrain. Visit mountain lakes, glacial pools, hiking trails, backcountry grounds, and practically anything else outdoors you could want, except ocean shores in this state.
From all over the state, you can enjoy the beautiful mountains of Washington. Head to Seattle for views of Mount Rainier and the sea together with an incredible city skyline. Drive eastward for the Cascades and Olympic mountains, the stunning Columbia River Gorge. Or stay closer to the coast for Puget Sound viewings and the magnificent islands that make up the Washington coast, including the San Juan Islands and Vashon Island. Overall, the state contains a massive 500-plus mountains and peaks.
While many folks might think most of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, there are many mountains here, as well. The riotous desert reds and oranges dance across the plateaus and peaks, offering unique beauty in mountainous regions not found in rocky or forested mountain ranges. Overall, the state has some of the most stunning natural features as well, from canyons and craters to the Petrified Forest and Lake Powell. In Arizona, you’ll find some 75 mountains and peaks, so grab some hiking boots and get to climbing.
Folks will instantly think of the stunning beauty of Hawaii but they may not instantly realize much of that is because of the 13 mountains on the island chain. With volcanoes, stunning shorelines, pristine ocean waters, and riveting wildlife and plants, the archipelago is one of the loveliest places in all of the United States and the world. Enjoy hiking up Diamondhead, the famous active volcano on Oahu or take a tourist submarine ride to explore the exciting underwater features of the island chain.
Driving into Wyoming from Montana or Idaho, you may find yourself surrounded by mountains in a stunning valley winding its way along steadily. The absolutely incredible beauty of the Grand Tetons, the Yellowstone National Park, or Wind River Range all call for dedicated time in this picturesque state. Wyoming has some 100 mountains and peaks to offer, with some of the most incredible, raw, rustic beauty anywhere in the country. Be sure to head to Laramie and Cheyenne to experience the beauty of Vedauwoo of the Front Range, the Bighorns, and incredible, bright views of the Milky Way at night. Don’t forget to hit up Red Canyon, Red Desert, and the Devils Tour for wildlife viewing among the scenery.
The Pacific Northwest and American Southwest don’t hold all claim to glorious mountains and stunning scenery. Vermont happens to be one of the most stunning state in the country, with rolling green hills leading up to clear, sparkling mountain lakes, ski villages, and the mountains to accompany them. Plus, if you make your way to Vermont in the right season, you’ll enjoy freshly harvested maple syrup, impressive fall foliage, and beautiful sunsets around Lake Champlain.
The Mountain State itself, of course, must line up on this list of states with mountains. The scenic state of West Virginia is less popular, perhaps, than others for the mountain views, but it is, in fact, filled with mountains and exceptionally scenic. For best viewings of the state, head there in spring for fresh, vivid flowers and trees or autumn when the whole state turns golden. The gorge-filled state contains more than 20 mountains along with loads of gorges, natural bridges, and other stunning scenery. You’ll also find the newest United States National Park, New River Gorge National Park. Explore mountainous terrain, ghost towns, and more as you head in. Or make your way to Monongahela National Forest for more incredible hiking and mountain views.
Next up is New Mexico, with 18 mountains, dry land, and some of the most fascinating landscapes in the country. Visit the pueblo cities for historical intrigue, climb the red rock cliffs and walk the sprawling mesas, or relax by the hot springs throughout the state. The mountains of Taos and canyons throughout the state make for some of the most fascinating hiking and camping experiences. The incredible Organ Mountains and White Sands National Park, though, cap out the state’s picturesque beauty in ways unimaginable.
Back to the eastern half of the United States, you’ll find Tennessee with its lush, green mountainsides, surprising valleys, and beautiful river canyons and natural bridges. The Great Smoky Mountains fill the eastern end of the state, while the lush beauty of Chattanooga’s Lookout Mountains overshadowing that city. You’ll find Ruby Falls, Ocoee River, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park fill in any gaps with their incredible beauty. Be sure to visit the nearly 30 mountains of Tennessee with caution, though. Those roads can be tricky, particularly in winter, as the winding curves take you by surprise.
Near to Tennessee’s lush smoky mountains, you’ll find Kentucky filled with stunning scenery in rustic, untouched regions. Here, you can still find old country ways for folks enjoying the great outdoors in their Blue Grass home. Kentucky has fewer mountains than most of this list, but the stunning mountains they do have only add to the incredible scenic spots around the state. Enjoy the rolling hills in horse country, dotted with stunning stallions and mares, to the highest peak of Black Mountain and the rivers and fall foliage gracing the state with incredible beauty. And don’t forget to visit Mammoth Cave, the Appalachian Mountain range, and Cumberland Falls.
Graced with only about a dozen mountains, Texas still remains on this list of states with mountains because of all the incredible scenery between the peaks. The massive state hosts Big Bend National Park and its Dark Skies. You’ll also find the gorgeous Hill Country filled with Americana and barbecue, and the exciting remnants of the Mother Road (Route 66). Visit the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and Fort Davis National Historic Site. Then head to Padres Island National Seashore, Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park for rich history and stunning beauty.
Other States with Mountains
These final four states do have a mountain or two, but the overall aesthetic, according to wide opinion of overall terrain versus mountain volume, is limited.
- New York
- North Carolina
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- South Dakota
The photo featured at the top of this post is © TripWalkers/Shutterstock.com
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