World's Tallest Mountains
Sure, you can look at a photo of a mountain online. You can even make it fullscreen if you’ve got an especially bad case of mountain envy. But nothing compares to standing in front of the tallest mountains in the world and gazing at their sheer size with your own eyes.
If adventure and jaw-dropping views is what you seek, then keep reading: We’ve rounded up the 15 tallest mountain ranges in the world, according to the highest peaks that they hold. We’ll give you the full details on what you need to know to visit — whether you’re a hardcore mountaineer or a casual day hiker who’d rather enjoy the gorgeous mountain views from afar.
#15. Great Dividing Range — 7,310 feet (tallest peak)
Hot, dusty Australia might not be your first thought when it comes to tall mountains. But believe it or not, the Great Dividing Range — which meanders along the country’s eastern coast — does indeed contain one of the highest peaks in the world: Mount Kosciuszko.
Because of the mountain range’s vast expanse, there’s no shortage of tours, excursions or accommodations. If you’re a wine lover, we recommend visiting Hunter Valley, full of vineyards boasting stellar views of the Great Dividing Range. If communing with nature is more your style, check out Spicers Peak Lodge; perched atop a Great Dividing Range peak on 9,000 acres of land, it’s the perfect romantic mountain getaway.
Want to get active? Set aside 6-8 hours to scale the summit of glorious Mount Kosciuszko itself.
#14. Rocky Mountains — 14,440 feet
For many people, the Rocky Mountains are the most familiar of the world’s tall peaks. This ultra-long range stretches 3,000 miles from New Mexico all the way north to British Columbia. Along the way, some of its highest peaks are in Colorado, including Mount Elbert, at 14,440 feet. In fact, there’s an entire culture around climbing “14ers” — mountains over 14,000 feet tall — in the state.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can climb a 14er for yourself. The easiest one for most folks is Mount Bierstadt, outside of Idaho Springs, since it “only” has an elevation gain of 2,850 feet. Just because it’s the easiest mountain to climb doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy though: Reaching the top is still a toast-worthy feat, even if you don’t need technical climbing gear to get there.
Also in Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is an ideal place to take in staggering peaks. The town of Estes Park is a great base camp for all your adventures here.
#13. Transantarctic Mountains — 14,856 feet
You’ll need a whole new level of commitment to visit these mountains, which form the backbone of the Antarctic continent. Most of the mountain range lies in the inaccessible inland, but the tail of the range sweeps down to the world-famous McMurdo Station. It’s here where you can glimpse just a peek of these shy mountains that few people will ever get to see.
McMurdo Station isn’t exactly what you’d call a picturesque town. It’s a place with a purpose — scientific research — and thus traveler services aren’t exactly the priority. In fact, there aren’t any publicly-offered tours to the station, meaning that your best option to visit this town is by getting a job working in the station (hey — we did say you’d need to be committed to reach these mountains).
#12. Alps — 15,777 feet
No list of the world’s highest peaks is complete without the beloved Alps (cue “The Sound of Music”). While they’re not necessarily the highest in the entire world, they’re still some of the highest peaks in Europe, and among the most picturesque.
Adventurers to the Alps can refuel between long alpine treks in the region’s many backcountry accommodations. Wander through wildflower-strewn grassy meadows during the day and then, at night, retreat to a simple wooden shack or charming Bavarian cottage with full-fledged gourmet dinners and warm, comfy beds.
While you’re in the area, a must-see is France’s Mont Blanc, the highest point in the range. Also check out the Matterhorn, the spindly-tall mountain that straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy; it served as the inspiration for the famous Disneyland ride of the same name.
#11. Caucasus Mountains — 18,510 feet
The Alps might get all the glory due to their proximity to large population centers, but the claim of Europe’s highest mountain actually goes to Mount Elbrus, part of the Caucasus Mountains range, which lies mostly within Russia and the former Soviet-controlled country of Georgia.
In days of yore, the Caucasus Mountains saw many Silk Road traders pass by. If you feel like channeling your inner trader, the range offers several popular treks, especially in Georgia. For those more interested in relaxing, there are several resort spa towns throughout the Georgia Caucasus Mountains, such as the mineral spring village of Borjomi and the picturesque seaside resort town of Batumi.
#10. Alaska Range — 20,310 feet
There’s no shortage of ways to see Alaska’s most famous mountain range: the aptly named Alaska Range mountains. You’ve probably heard of the range’s most famous resident, Denali (also known as Mount McKinley), the tallest mountain in North America. Because the Alaska Range is situated like a net to catch humid air rising out of the Gulf of Alaska, it has some of the wildest weather — and snowiest peaks — of any range in the world.
The best way to see Denali is by riding a National Park Service bus into Denali National Park. Stop for a photo-op at the world-renowned Wonder Lake, where you can set up camp, or continue on to Kantishna, the literal end of the road. Several lodges surrounded by wilderness operate here.
#9. Andes Mountains — 22,838 feet
The Andes is one of the highest and longest mountain ranges in the world. Its peaks form a formidable barrier across the entire eastern edge of South America, stretching from Venezuela to Argentina — a whopping 4,350 miles.
There are literally thousands of places you can visit along the Andes Mountains. But, if you’re heading here for the crisp mountain views, point yourself towards Mount Aconcagua, the range’s highest peak, located entirely within Argentina. There are numerous options for guided expeditions to the summit if you’re an extreme adventurer.
If you’d rather enjoy a bit of relaxation, there are plenty of luxury lodges with views of the Andes. Argentina is also famous for its wine, so why not sip a glass of local Chardonnay while gazing in wonder from afar?
#8. Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains — 23,497 feet
The Nyenchen Tanglha mountains fall entirely within Tibet. While there are many peaks to explore here, one of the best photo-ops is at Namtso Lake, with the range’s namesake Mount Nyenchen Tanglha in the background. This is one of the holiest mountains in Tibet. If you see a satin-robed figure ride by on a white horse, look twice: You may have just seen what the locals believe is the human embodiment of the mountain.
There are many trekking guides that offer trips to Nyenchen Tanglha and Namtso Lake. For example, Tibet Vista offers 12-day treks for all skill levels (including kids). If you’re feeling a bit more spritely, Tibet Tour offers more rigorous 10-day treks in the same area. This tour is probably better for adults, since you may get to view sensitive places like monasteries and the somber “sky burials” that take place in the region.
#7. Kunlun Mountains — 23,514 feet
Visiting the Kunlun Mountains is an otherworldly experience. You might think you’ve stepped foot on an alien planet, since it’s about as arid and dry here as mountain ranges come (indeed, some parts get just a scant two inches of rain per year). It’s also one of the longest mountain ranges in the world, traversing 1,500 miles across central Asia as it borders the northern part of the Tibetan Plateau.
Tours and services for travelers in the Kunlun Mountains are sparse (especially for such a long mountain range), but there are a few guides that offer mountain-climbing expeditions on the mountain Yuzhu Feng.
#6. Tian Shan Mountains — 24,406 feet
“Tian Shan” translates into “Mountains of Heaven,” and we couldn’t agree more. These peaks, perched on the borders of China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, are shrouded in religious myths and stories from people who practice Daoism and the shamanistic Tengrism.
Sadly, this mountain range’s glaciers are some of the fastest-disappearing in the world, melting at four times the average rate of glaciers in other mountain ranges. If you want to capture photos of glaciated peaks, now’s the time to go.
Make sure to stop and see the mountain Khan Tengri, an important mountain in Tengrism mythology. The range is also dotted with numerous pristine high-altitude lakes that are definitely worth scouting out, such as Lake Issyk Kul (the second-largest alpine lake in the entire world), and the turquoise-blue Lake Ala Kul.
#5. Hengduan Mountains — 24,790 feet
If diversity is what you’re after, try heading to China’s Hengduan Mountains. These peaks form a bridge between the high Himalayas in the west and the Chinese lowlands in the east, thus encompassing a range of different habitat types, from high alpine summits to subtropical forests. Because of the region’s high-to-low topography, several rivers drain from the Himalayas through here, including the Three Parallel Rivers (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
You can relax and enjoy views of the region’s prolific tea farms, verdant mountains and yak herds at lodges throughout the area. The Songtsam lodges are particular gems, spaced throughout the region and nestled right in with local villages while still offering jaw-dropping views.
#4. Pamir Mountains — 25,095 feet
The Pamir Mountains lie mostly within western Tajikistan. If you’re an Asian history buff, you’ll love these mountains: Before they were a part of the now-dissolved Soviet Union, they were one of the major hurdles for travelers like Marco Polo traversing along the Silk Road.
Today, there are still several Soviet legacies left in the area, the most significant of which is the Pamir Highway, an old military supply route. Driving this highway is also one of the best ways to see these mountains.
This part of the world is sparsely populated, however, so if you’re waiting for a ride while hitchhiking, you could be there a while. Instead, a better option is to book a tour with one of the many outfitters in the region, such as Pamir Central Asia or Wild Frontiers.
#3. Hindu Kush — 25,289 feet
No, we’re not talking about the special potted plants growing on your neighbor’s back patio; Hindu Kush is also the name of the third-tallest mountain range in the world.
Unfortunately, these peaks stretch from northern Afghanistan to northern Pakistan, two countries with travel advisories — so it may be a better idea to admire them from afar for now.
The best vantage point outside of the Hindu Kush’s two native countries is from Tajikistan in the north. There are several operators that offer tours in this area, such as Wild Frontier’s South Tajikistan trip that touts views of the Hindu Kush mountains from a safe distance. Even better, there are other mountain ranges to explore in this area as well, such as India’s Karakoram Mountains and Tajikistan’s Pamir Mountains.
#2. Karakoram Mountains — 28,251 feet
If an adventurous road trip is more your style, try riding along the Karakoram Highway between Pakistan and China for jaw-dropping views of the Karakoram mountain range (however, you may want to limit yourself to the Chinese side of the road, due to a travel advisory on the Pakistani side of the highway). This is the highest paved road in the world, and is popular with tourists itching for a glance at these gorgeous mountains.
The range itself claims the famous mountain K2 (as in, “Karakoram 2”) among its many residents. If you’re looking for pristine glaciated mountains, the Karakorams might be your best bet, since they’re the most heavily glaciated in the world outside of the chilly polar regions (although we bet you’ll still need a jacket here too).
#1. Mahalangur Himal — 29,029 feet
When it comes to big mountains, the Mahalangur Himal range — a specific part of the Himalayan mega-complex — takes the cake. Four out of six of the world’s tallest peaks, including Mount Everest, are located within this range on the border between Nepal and the Tibet Autonomous Region in China.
One of the best places to head in this remote corner of the world is the Khumbu region in Nepal. This is the area most likely to have tourist services, since it’s the most populated within the Mahalangur Himals. But don’t let that fool you: You’ll still be able to see the stars at night.
If you’re not braving the peaks of Mount Everest (and we don’t blame you, over 375 people have died trying to climb it), the Hotel Everest View offers amazing accommodations. You’ll need to trek in (or take a helicopter), but once there, you can bask in panoramic views of the Himalayas. In addition, each room is set up to offer views of Mount Everest itself.