As a Coloradan, I spend a lot of time exploring the Rocky Mountains in my state. With eight major sub-ranges to choose from, I could spend a lifetime here backpacking and climbing them. However, there are many other mountain ranges you should visit beyond Colorado’s great peaks, many still part of the Rocky Mountains. Here are five mountain ranges you should visit.
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Five Great Options for Mountain Adventures
Before I go through each range, you might be wondering – how did you pick them? I picked these mountain ranges you should visit to provide a diversity of American mountain ranges: big and small, volcanic and non-volcanic, busy and far from civilization, to give you options. However I guarantee that all five are really mountain ranges you should visit. Here they each are in turn.
1) The Sierra Nevada in California
The Sierra Nevada forms the spine of California, running nearly 400 miles north to south. It’s home to three national parks, twenty wilderness areas, and the tallest peak in the lower 48 states, Mt. Whitney, at 14,505 feet in the southern part of the range. The Sierra Nevada mountains has something for everyone. Be warned, if you are used to Colorado peaks – California route ratings are harder. What would be considered Class 4 in Colorado is often listed as Class 3 in California. The peaks are more rugged and harder to reach. Here’s my full blog comparing the California and Colorado 14ers. For more info about visiting these peaks, click here for trip ideas and information.
2) The Teton Range in Wyoming
The Teton Range, located in Grand Teton National Park is a much smaller mountain range than the Sierra Nevada, running 40 miles just south of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Overlooking Jackson Hole, the small range features some big peaks, the tallest being the Grand Teton at 13,775ft. These peaks are tough climbs, but the national park includes great hikes and camping for families and those of all experience levels. Numerous outfitters provide guided treks to the top of these famous mountains summits as well. They’re worth a visit from any mountaineer. Plan a trip on the National Park Website here.
3) The Uinta Range in Utah
The Uinta Mountains are a much quieter range compared to the first two on the list. Around 100 miles east of Salt Lake City, they’re the only Rocky Mountain sub-range that runs east to west. The range features forests, alpine slopes and dramatic cliffs, the result of many years of glaciation long past. The range includes Utah’s tallest peak, Kings Peak, at 13,528 feet. While it’s a class 1 hike, it’s an exhausting 23 miles round-trip, so expect a few nights of backpacking. There are also many lower peaks for those looking for day trips. Expect solitude on these treks, as you’re far from any major population centers. Plan a visit here.
4) The Cascade Range in the Northwest
The Cascade Range lies in the American northwest of California, Oregon and Washington, running into southern Canada. This is a volcanic range, with thousands of lower peaks and ten major volcanic summits over 10,000 feet, including several fourteeners, including Mount Shasta and Mount Rainier, two mountaineering classic destinations. Other famous peaks include Lassen Peak, which erupted in 1914, and Mount Saint Helens, which just erupted in the 1980’s. The lower peaks offer world class opportunities for hiking, skiing and camping year-round. Plan a trip to the Cascade Range here.
5) The Wind River Range in Wyoming
The Wind River Range run 100 miles northwest to southeast in Wyoming. Originally believed to be the highest range in the Rockies, it actually reaches a height of 13,804 feet with Gannett Peak. Climbing this summit, Wyoming’s tallest, is a tall task with a backpacking trip in, followed by a glacier travel climb to the peak. The Winds are very sparsely travelled, far from major cities and metro areas. Enjoy the peace and solitude you’ll find there, though it may be a better destination for more experienced mountaineers. There is great information on the wind River Range here on summitpost.
Five Great Mountain Ranges to Explore.
As a Coloradan, I know how easy it is to get complacent with the amazing mountains in our backyards. I hope these five ideas help inspire you to add a few more mountain ranges to your travel itinerary. Each range has its own history, weather, geology, and climbing to create a unique experience. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next mountain adventure with these mountain ranges you should visit.