RV parked in front of mountains
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The Most Beautiful Mountain Road Trips in America

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Time to Hit the Trails

When most people think of an RV road trip, their mind may gravitate to cross-country adventures along flat, country roads. Passing through America’s heartland and taking in the open plains can be really calming. But heading out in your RV to the mountains offers its own bit of magic that everyone should experience.  

This article originally appeared on RVshare.com.

Cascade Mountains

Something to "Peak" Your Interest

Whether you’re hiking up to the tallest peak or taking in the beauty at the base, grand landscapes have an almost sacred quality. It’s hard not to feel reverence when soaking in these formations that are (in some cases) over a billion years old. And if you’re not looking to soul-search during a moment in nature – they’re just plain pretty to look at! Did you know there are over 70,000 mountains in the U.S.? While we won’t be able to highlight quite that many in this post, we have rounded up a bunch of really breathtaking mountains to add some inspiration for your next RV trip!

Related: 18 Off-the-Radar Mountain Towns Across America

Equipment that would pack out on the trail.

What You Need to Hike in the Mountains

Before we dig into gorgeous travel inspo, let’s first make sure we’re prepared to head into the mountains. For starters, you’ll want to check out our tips on driving through the mountains. It’s important to be prepared for all kinds of climates, as the weather in the mountains can quickly change. Keeping in mind wildlife safety is also important, as many creatures all the mountains home. For a low-key hike, the basics should at least include:

If you intend on going on a more challenging hike, you will want to make sure you are prepared with additional supplies. Here you can find a more comprehensive list of our hiking gear recommendations.

Related: 14 Hiking Essentials Under $30

RV Campsite in Mountains

Must-See Mountains in the U.S.

There are three major mountain ranges in the United States: the Sierra Nevada Mountains mostly throughout California, the Rocky Mountains stretching from New Mexico into Canada, and the Appalachian Mountains extending from Alabama to Canada. Today we’re walking through must-see landscapes for planning the best mountain road trips.

Related: The Coolest Mountain Hideaways You Can Rent Across America

Sierra Nevada Mountains

Sierra Nevada Mountains

Contrary to their name, the Sierra Nevada Mountains are mostly located in California. Amongst this mountain range is Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states at more than 14,500 feet. There are also four national parks within this range.

Related: Route 66: Then and Now

See the World's Largest Tree, Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park

In addition to checking out Mount Whitney, seeing the iconic Sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park is a must-see when traveling along the Sierra Nevada Mountains. There are more than 800 miles of hiking trails, as well as plenty of other activities such as skiing and horseback riding.

Related: 19 Money-Saving Tips for Visiting National Parks

Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park

Easily hit up two national parks in one trip — if you’re visiting Sequoia National Park, make sure to travel a bit further north and see Kings Canyon National Park. Here you will also hike amongst the beautiful ancient sequoia trees, fish in Hume Lake, and more.

Yosemite National Park, California
Hiker admires view of Mount Robson Canadian Rockies Canada

Rocky Mountains

The Rocky Mountains are home to four national parks. Stretching 3,000 miles, this range is the longest in North America and is the second-longest mountain range in the world. When planning your Rocky Mountain road trip, be sure to include these stops.

Related: 50 Best Restaurants for RV Road Trips

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park

Naturally, Rocky Mountain National Park is located in the Rockies. The park is located a couple hours outside of Denver and is rich in diverse foliage and wildlife. A popular “must” for this park includes hiking Longs Peak, a mountain that is more than 14,000 feet high.

Related: 21 Epic Hiking Trails Around the World

Yellowstone National Park
Manel Vinuesa /istockphoto
Grand Teton National Park
Glacier National Park in Montana

Glacier National Park

Looking to visit the northern part of the Rocky Mountains? Glacier National Park in Montana is about as north as you can get while still being in the continental U.S. Being so far north, this park is a bit cooler year-round than most and offers many of the same opportunities for your favorite activities – hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and then some!

Related: 33 Historic National Park Photos for Vintage Views

Appalachian Trail Roan Mountains Rhododendron Bloom

Appalachian Mountains

The Appalachian Mountains are on the eastern side of the United States and include several national parks. There are also a few distinct mountains that are included in this ridge. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains are part of the Appalachian Mountains and have a national park of the same name. Great Smoky Mountains National Park encompasses over 500,000 acres, making it one of the largest protected areas in the eastern U.S. With more than 800 miles of trails, you can certainly spend a lifetime hiking, biking, and exploring this mountain range.

Related: 9 Things to Do at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Blue Ridge Mountains scenic vista view
Green valley and Polycrhrome Mountains in Denali
Denali National Park in Alaska
Mrs. Loh/shutterstock

Denali National Park

The highest mountain peak in North America, Denali, can be found at Denali National Park. This magnificent summit reaches over 20,000 feet in elevation. Within the same park is Mount Foraker, the third highest peak in the United States at over 17,000 feet. There are limited marked trails at this park, so it is recommended to consult with the park rangers when planning your excursions.

Related: The World's Most Remote Hotels

Katmai National Park & Preserve
Kennicott River in Wrangell  St Elias National Park,McCarthy,Alaska.
Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park

“Where Mountains, Ice, and Ocean Meet” … that perfectly describes what to expect at Kenai Fjords National Park. This beautiful park offers a unique experience with only one road of entry. Similarly to other Alaskan parks, there are a limited number of marked trails in an effort to preserve the natural beauty of the area.

Related: Explore the Best National Parks in Every State

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska by National Park Service, Alaska Region - Oolah Valley (None)

Gates of the Arctic National Park

Another notable mountain range in Alaska is the Brooks Range. Stretching over 700 miles, this range can be best visited in Gates of the Arctic National Park. Gates of the Arctic is the second-largest, and the northernmost, national park in the United States. Not only is it popular for its mountain beauty, but many travel to see the aurora lights here as well. 

Related: Best Vacation Rentals for Seeing the Northern Lights

Cascade Mountains

Cascade Mountains

The Cascade Range is in the northwest corner of the United States, spanning California, Oregon, Washington, and extending into Canada as well. This mountain range includes both volcanic and non-volcanic peaks.

Related: 20 Stunning RV Camping Destinations Across Canada

Mount Rainier National Park
Camila Picolli/istockphoto
Autumn Day at Sunset Rock

New York Mountain Ranges

New York might be best known for its eponymous, world-famous city, but the state is home to some beautiful mountains as well. Just outside NYC are the Catskills, making it a popular getaway for those living in the city. In northern New York, you will find the Adirondack Mountains. 

Related: The Best Cheap & Free Stuff New York State Offers

Ozark Mountains, Arkansas

Ozark Mountains

The Ozarks aren’t just the home of the popular Netflix show starring Jason Bateman. This mountain range is one of the largest in the country. The Ozarks are primarily in Missouri, as well as Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, and are especially popular for their rivers and lakes.

Related: The Most Beautiful River in Every State

Yellowstone National Park
Manel Vinuesa /istockphoto

The Importance of Mountains

Mountains aren’t just for our enjoyment – they actually are home to vital ecosystems all over the world. Due to climate change and overexploitation, the integrity of mountain life is compromised. Mountains are home to a rich variety of biodiversity, as well as 15% of the world’s population, which makes maintaining these areas so important.

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