The mountains of Alaska are a major attraction for visitors, photographers, scientists and adventurers alike. There are a whopping 14 mountain ranges within the borders, basically covering the state from top to bottom. No matter where you are in Alaska, a vast and wild playground lies right outside your door. So, start planning for the summer or get your gear and head out in the cold. The mountains of Alaska are our most amazing playground and you’ll find your vigour renewed after a day in the brisk mountain air!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Brooks Range
The farthest north mountain range in Alaska, the Brooks Range, stretches all the way across the state from the Chukchi Sea to the Canadian border. It is a severe and strikingly beautiful place. The Brooks Range is rugged, so visit with a knowledgeable guide, great gear, and plans for severe weather. The brief summer is ideal for a visit, so stick to June of July for the best and safest time to explore these Arctic beauties.
2. Seward Peninsula Mountains
Mount Osborn (in the distance with snow on top) stands 4,714 feet, the tallest in the Kigluaik Range and the tallest on the Seward Peninsula.
There are four distinct areas of the Seward Peninsula mountains: Kigluaik Mountains, Bendeleben Mountains, Darby Mountains, and York Mountains. They are groups of rolling hills on the southern side of the peninsula in the area surrounding Nome. Softly colored in the summer and snow-covered in winter, these mountains are mostly treeless tundra, and make for gorgeous hiking. The winds can be brutal in Western Alaska, so beware the conditions, have great gear and a survival plan, and stick to the lower hills for hiking and exploring.
3. Nulato Hills
The Nulato Hills lie on mainland Alaska, south of the Seward Peninsula. They are bordered on the east by the Yukon River and the west by Norton Sound. This area is sparsely populated and the hills are small, but if you ever have the opportunity to visit, or take a boat ride in area, you will love the beauty of these rolling hills. The tallest is Debauch Mountain, which stands at 3,411 feet.
4. Yukon-Tanana Uplands
The Yukon-Tanana Uplands include the White Mountains and the Ray Mountains. The highest mountain is Mt. Eldridge at 6,250 feet. The White Mountains in particular are accessible from the road system and a favorite for winter sports from shredding a snow machine up the powdery peaks to skiing, snowboarding and snow shoeing.
5. Ogilvie Mountains
This mountain range is almost completely in Canada, but does creep across the Alaska-Canada border. The highest peaks on the Alaska side are barely over 4,000 feet, but it still a stunning mountain range in Alaska.
6. Kuskokwim Mountains
The Kuskokwim Mountains begin in the interior, to the west of Fairbanks. They continue southwest until they stop at Bristol Bay. These rugged mountains have no road service, but are great for a day hike if you are boating in the summer in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
7. Alaska Range
Home to Denali National Park and the giant mountain itself, Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley), the Alaska Range is probably the most popular in the state. Denali is the largest mountain in North America and reigns supreme in the area, gathering visitors and adventurers from around the world. The Alaska Range starts at the eastern border with Canada, curves over Southcentral Alaska and ends at the Kenai Peninsula. Spring, summer, and fall are lovely in the Alaska Range, so visit May-September for optimal hiking.
8. Talkeetna Mountains
The Talkeetna Mountains are long-extinct volcanoes that used to line the coast, but were pushed inland through millions of years of geologic action. Connecting the Chugach Mountains to the Alaska Range, these mountains are rugged, but accessible to many Alaskans for outdoor adventure year-round.
9. Wrangell Mountains
The Wrangells are between the Chugach and St. Elias Mountains on the south and the Alaska Range's Mentasta Mountains on the north. Several active volcanoes are visible to one traveling to Glenallen. Mt. Wrangell, Alaska's largest active volcano, is 4,163 feet high. Visit the Wrangells any time of year for adventure.
10. Aleutian Range
This runs southwest along the Alaska Peninsula, eventually heading into the Pacific Ocean and forming an island chain over a thousand miles long. These islands gently curve northward toward Siberia.
11. Kenai Mountains
The Kenai Mountains are an actual wonderland, dotted with glacier-carved lakes including Kenai Lake, Upper Russian Lake, and Trail Lakes. An extensive trail system cuts through the range and most are snowy and difficult October through March.
12. Chugach Mountains
The Chuguch Range begins on the panhandle and forms the coast along much of Southcentral Alaska. They have more glacial ice than any other range in the state. Famed ski resort Alyeska is in this range, as well as the site of the Worthington Glacier, Girl's Mountain. Be prepared for rain or snow to fall anytime you explore these mountains.
13. St. Elias Mountains
These mountains are on mainland Alaska south of the Wrangell Mountains and east of the Chugach Mountains. They head towards the southeast along the coast and are cool, lush and rainy or snowy at lower elevations.
14. Coast Mountains
These coastal mountains of Southeast form the boundary between Alaska and British Columbia. The Alexander Archipelago is in this range. The mountains extend down becoming islands and protecting the inside passage from the ocean weather. Accessible year-round.
How many of Alaska’s mountain ranges have you been to? Tell us about it in the comments below!