When it comes to mountains, no other state contains as many of the highest peaks as Alaska. Due to their remote setting in the Last Frontier, some of these mountains are rarely visited but maintain their daunting status as iconic features of Alaska’s geography. Of the top 5 highest mountains in the United States, all are located in Alaska.
1. Denali- Alaska – The Highest Mountain in the United States
Rising 20,310 feet (6,190 meters) , Denali is the United States’ highest mountain. Denali is also the highest mountain in North America and is the third highest mountain of the Seven Summits (a hiking term for the tallest mountain on each continent) after Mount Everest and Aconcagua.
Located in the Alaska Range, Denali and the mountains around it were formed from dramatic tectonic activity that continues to increase the mountain’s elevation little by little every year.
A view of Denali from Wonder Lake.
Denali is the Koyukon Athabaskan word meaning ‘the tall one,’ and the mountain holds great significance for indigenous Alaskans who have resided around it since time immemorial.
Additionally, Denali National Park and Preserve is one of the most visited locations in Alaska, bringing tourists in from around the world during the summer months. Many animals including wolves, moose, caribou, black bear and grizzly bear can be seen from the park’s singular road.
Caribou in Denali National Park.
2. Mount Saint Elias – Alaska Yukon
Mount Saint Elias straddles the Alaska/Canadian border in the Saint Elias Mountain Range in northern southeast Alaska. At 18,009 feet (5,489 meters), it is the second highest mountain in the United States and in Canada behind Mount Logan.
A snow-covered Mt. St. Elias towers over the Icy Bay.
Mount Saint Elias, on the US side is part of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the largest National Park in the United States. Nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States are found in this National Park.
This mountain range is located near Glacier Bay, which has a high density of glaciers and icefields as well as tectonic and volcanic activity that has helped make this mountain range popular for modern and past exploration.
St Elias Mountains, Agassiz Lakes, Libby Glacier and Agassiz Glacier Confluence.
Mount Saint Elias is called Yasʼéitʼaa Shaa or Shaa Tlein by the indigenous Yakutat Tlingit people who have lived in the area for thousands of years. Mount Saint Elias saw its first recorded summit in 1897 by an Italian expedition.
3. Mount Foraker – Alaska
On a clear day, Mount Foraker can be seen in tandem with Denali in the Alaska Range.Mount Foraker is the third highest peak in the United States with an elevation of 17,400 feet (5304 meters).
View down the Kahiltna Glacier, witih Mount Crosson and Mount Foraker to the right. In the center of the image is the confluence of the main Kahiltna and the Northeast Fork, which is the more crevassed leg on the bottom left.
The indigenous Dena’ina names for Mount Foraker are Sultana, meaning ‘the woman,’ or Menlale, meaning ‘Denali’s wife’ due to its close proximity to Denali. The first recorded successful summiting of the north and south peaks occurred in 1934. The mountain is located on a fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, the longest glacier in the Alaska Range, across from Denali and Mount Hunter.
4. Mount Bona – Alaska
Mount Bona is a dormant stratovolcano located in the Saint Elias Mountains in eastern Alaska. At 16,550 feet (5,040 meters), Mount Bona is the highest volcano in the United States as well as the fourth highest mountain in the US. Mount Bona is also the fifth-highest independent peak in the United States.
Mount Bona, Alaska.
Covered by glaciers and ice fields, the Klutlan Glacier flows into the Yukon Territory of Canada and is an important contributor to the Russell Glacier complex.
5. Mount Blackburn – Alaska
Mount Blackburn is an old, eroded shield volcano that tops out at 16,390 feet (4996 meters). Located in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, it is the second highest volcano in the United States as well as the fifth highest mountain in the country.
Nabesna Glacier in Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve with Mt. Blackburn in the background.
Mount Blackburn is the main source of ice that flows into the Kennicott Glacier, which is a draw for visitors seeking out the mining ghost town of Kennecott and the jumping off point of McCarthy. The mountain also contributes ice to the Nabesna Glacier and the Kuskulana Glacier.
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