Mountain Ranges of the American West

Mountain Ranges of the American West: A Great Infographic

While you’ve probably heard of the Rocky Mountains before, America is home to many different individual ranges, each with their own geology and charm. Some are volcanic, like the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest, while others were created through uplift over time, like the Sierra Nevada in California. This infographic highlights some of the most popular and well-known mountain ranges of the American West. They all have great opportunities for hiking, camping and other outdoor recreation.

Here's Some Info on Each of These Mountain Ranges of the American West

Olympic Range: This small Washington Range on the Olympic Peninsula includes temperate tropical rain forests. Its highest summit is Mount Olympus, a glaciated peak at 7,980 feet.

Cascade Range: The Cascades are a large range that’s volcanic in origin, spreading from Canada, through Washington, Oregon and northern California. It’s home to 14ers: Mount Shasta in the south, and its tallest peak, Mount Rainier, in the north.

Ruby Mountains: This range in Nevada is far from population centers, offering great wilderness opportunities. The tallest summit, Ruby Dome, maxes out at a 11,387 feet.

North Coastal Range: Following the Pacific mountain coast north of San Fransisco Bay, this range is lower in elevation, but includes some amazing seaviews. Mount Linn is the tallest point, around 8,098 feet.

Sierra Nevada: California’s mightiest range, home to the tallest summit in all of the mountain ranges of the American West, is the Sierra Nevada. Home to multiple national parks and forests, you could spend a lifetime exploring this massive range.

South Coastal Range: This rage is similar to its northern equivalent, but is drier in nature with a lower elevation. Junipero Serra Peak is the tallest peak at 5,857 feet.

Wasatch Range: The Wasatch peaks frame Salt Lake City, and include great ski resorts, hiking trails and more. It is capped by Mount Nebo at 11,928 feet.

San Fransisco Peaks: This tiny range is volcanic, the remains of a single large volcano from long ago, now heavily eroded away. The tallest remaining summit is Humphreys Peak at 12,633 feet, also the tallest point in Arizona.

Bitterroot Range: This sub-range of the Rocky Mountains forms the border of Idaho and Montana. It’s not as tall as the southern Rockies, but it’s tallest peaks are alpine, including the highest mountain, Scott Peak, at 11,393 feet.

Crazy Mountains: This isolated mountain range, another Rockies sub-range, is further east than most of Montana’s mountains. Its tallest mountain, Crazy Peak, is a fun climb, ranking in at 11,214 feet.

Wind River Range: The Winds are a mountaineering paradise in Wyoming. It’s easy to find solitude among the granite peaks and icy glaciers. Wyoming’s tallest summit also the tallest point in the range, Gannett Peak, at 13,804 feet.

Uinta Mountains: The Uintas have the distinction of being one of the few Rocky mountain sub-ranges that trend from east to west, rather than north to south. The tallest point is Kings Peak, 13,528 feet, also Utah’s tallest mountain.

Front Range: Visible clearly from Denver, the Front Range is the most well known sub-range of America’s rocky mountain, home to famous peaks and 14ers like Longs Peak and Pikes Peak.

San Juans: The San Juans are Colorado’s largest and most diverse mountain range, with peaks of numerous geologic backgrounds and more than a dozen fourteeners you can climb. It’s one of my favorite mountain ranges of the American West.

Sangre de Cristo Range: Stretching from Colorado south into New Mexico, the Sangres are home to many rugged peaks, including the famous Crestone Needle. The southern part of the range is lower in altitude, but home to many great hiking areas too.

Taos Range: The Taos range is home to Philmont Scout Ranch, one of my favorite places in the mountain ranges of the American west.

Sacramento Mountains: One of the smaller ranges on this list, the Sacramento Mountains tops out just below 10,000 feet, and is a dry, desert range in southern New Mexico.

Now you know more about the mountain ranges of the American West. I hope you found this infographic helpful and informative. Safe travels on the trail!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Rocky Mountains: Stretching from northern British Columbia, Canada, to the southwestern United States, the Rocky Mountains are the largest and most significant mountain range in North America. They span over 3,000 miles and traverse multiple states, including Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico.

  2. Sierra Nevada: Located primarily in eastern California, the Sierra Nevada mountain range is known for its stunning beauty and granite peaks, including the famous Yosemite National Park. The range extends over 400 miles from north to south, and also includes the highest peak in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney, standing at 14,505 feet.

  3. Cascade Range: This volcanic mountain range stretches from northern California to British Columbia, Canada. It’s part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a zone of volcanic activity encircling the Pacific Ocean. The Cascade Range includes famous peaks such as Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Hood, and is known for its diverse ecosystems and picturesque landscapes.

In the western side of North America, several notable mountain ranges span across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Some of the most prominent mountain ranges include:

  1. Rocky Mountains: The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, extend from northern British Columbia in Canada down to the southwestern United States. They cover multiple U.S. states, such as Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico.

  2. Cascade Range: This volcanic mountain range stretches from northern California in the United States to British Columbia in Canada. It is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and includes well-known peaks like Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Hood.

  3. Sierra Nevada: Located mainly in eastern California, the Sierra Nevada mountain range is known for its granite peaks and stunning landscapes, such as Yosemite National Park. It also features the highest peak in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney.

  4. Coast Mountains: Situated along the western coast of British Columbia, Canada, and extending into southeastern Alaska, the Coast Mountains form part of the Pacific Coast Ranges. These mountains include the highest peak in the range, Mount Waddington, and the notable Whistler Blackcomb ski resort.

  5. Pacific Coast Ranges: This extensive system of mountain ranges runs along the western coast of North America, from Alaska in the United States to Baja California in Mexico. It includes several subranges, such as the Coast Mountains, the Alaska Range, the Olympic Mountains, and the Sierra Madre Occidental.

  6. Sierra Madre Occidental: This mountain range is located in western Mexico and stretches from the U.S.-Mexico border in the north to the Mexican states of Jalisco and Zacatecas in the south. It forms part of the larger American Cordillera, which encompasses all the mountain ranges in the Americas.

These mountain ranges are essential for their geographical, ecological, and cultural contributions to the region.

Alex Derr, Creator of The Next Summit

Alex is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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