Archive "Mountains"

Chiricahua Mountains: Between Two Deserts

Sitting on the northwestern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, the Chiricahua Mountains mingle cataclysmic geology with a bloody history. The 150-mile-long (241 km), 9,700-foot-tall (3 km), ecologically extravagant range of tormented rock is the most extensive and varied of southeast Arizona's famed Sky Islands and serves as a vivid lesson in how geology shapes both human […]

Superstition Mountains and the Legend of the Lost Dutchman

The jagged Superstition Mountains just outside of Phoenix show another face of the Sonoran Desert, rife with alluring legends of violent death and lost gold mines. That includes one of the most famous tales of the Sonoran Desert, the lost gold mine of the mysterious, semi-mythological Jacob Waltz, better known as the “Lost Dutchman.” The […]


Making mountains

The mountain ranges we see today include some still under construction, others where the process has long ended and whose erosion reveals the innards of the mountain-making process, and yet others at every stage in between. The one thing we never see is a stable mountain range. Once it is built, a mountain is doomed […]

Atlas Mountains

Atlas Mountains

The Atlas Mountains are the principal geographic feature of the North African countries of MOROCCO, ALGERIA, and TUNISIA. They are made up of six mountain ranges—the Anti-Atlas, the High Atlas, the Middle Atlas, the Saharan Atlas, the Tell Atlas, and the Aures—with high plateaus and plains between them. The mountains run northeast from the Atlantic coast of Morocco to the […]

Zagros Mountains

Zagros Mountains

THE ZAGROS MOUNTAINS are a complex chain of mountains and ridges in the westernmost part of IRAN. The range divides the region between the fertile plains of Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf lowlands to the west, and Iran's dry inland plateau to the east. The ridges run roughly northwest to southeast, 930 mi (1,500 km) in length, from Kurdistan to the […]

Vinson Massif

Vinson Massif

VINSON MASSIF IS THE highest peak (16,077 ft or 4,901 m) on the ANTARCTICA continent. It forms the southern outlier of the Sentinel Range, the northern range of the Ellsworth Mountains. The Ellsworth Mountains, divided into the Sentinel Range and the Heritage Range by the Minnesota Glacier, lie in the eastern part of Ellsworth Land, inland from the Ronne Ice Shelf. Vinson […]

Ural Mountains

Ural Mountains

THE URALS EXTEND over 1,553 mi (2,500 km) from the ARCTIC OCEAN to the steppes of KAZAKHSTAN. The territory of nearly 318,148 square mi (824,000 square km) is subdivided in the oblasti (districts) of Perm, Cheliabinsk, Kurgansk, Orenburg, and the Autonomous Republics of Udmurtia and Bashkiria. The Ural highlands, with the highest peak of Narodnaya (6,213 ft or 1,894 m), separate the […]

Tian Shan

Tian Shan

TIAN SHAN, THE name that Chinese geographers have given to the “Heavenly Mountains,” can also be spelled T'ien-shan or Tien Shan. The Junggar Mongols who inhabit the area call this mountain range Tengri Uul or Tengri Agula. A frequent component in place names in western CHINA, tengri in Mongol has the same meaning as tian in Chinese: “sky” and “God.” The […]

Sinai, Mount

Sinai, Mount

LOCATED IN EGYPT on the SINAI PENINSULA, Mount Sinai has a height of 8,651 ft (2,640 m) and is known locally as Gebel Musa (Mountain of Moses). This granite mountain has long been associated with the area described in the Judeo-Christian Holy Scriptures as the setting where God revealed himself to Moses in a burning bush (Mount Horeb) and later provided […]



SEAMOUNTS ARE MOUNTAINS more than 3,281 ft (1,000 m) high that rise from the seafloor and do not break the water's surface. Some seamounts occur thousands of meters beneath the ocean surface, while others are only dozens of feet from the surface. Seamounts vary in form as well—seamounts whose tops have been truncated by wave action resemble volcanic cones. Some seamounts are […]

Ruwenzori Mountains

Ruwenzori Mountains

SHROUDED IN MISTS sitting under the hot sun of the equator is a mountain range believed to be the mysterious “Mountains of the Moon” spoken of by the ancient Greeks. Their discovery is actually credited to Henry Morton Stanley of Britain, who in 1888, while on expedition, glanced up one day and saw what the native porters at the time believed […]

Rocky Mountains

Rocky Mountains

THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS are a chain of mountain ranges 3,000 mi (4,800 km) long and as wide as 350 mi (563 km) running predominantly north to south in the western part of the North American continent. The Rockies run through the U.S. states of NEW MEXICO, COLORADO, UTAH, WYOMING, IDAHO, MONTANA and ALASKA, as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta and […]



THE PYRENEES MOUNTAINS form the natural border between FRANCE and SPAIN, and have been a more effective barrier between the two nations than other ranges of similar height because of their characteristic ruggedness and lack of usable passes. Even more so than the ALPS, the Pyrenees were impassable to travelers for many centuries. Today, however, […]

Pamir Knot

Pamir Knot

THE UNIQUE OROGRAPHIC feature known as the Pamir Knot takes its name from the mountains on which it is centered, the Pamir. The “knot” refers to the convergence of some of the world's major mountain ranges, including the TIAN SHAN, Karakorum, Kunlun, HINDU KUSH, and Pamir systems. The origin of the word pamir is unclear, […]

Ngorongoro Crater

LOCATED IN NORTHERN TANZANIA, 80 mi (129 km) west of the city of Arusha is the Ngorongoro Crater. This crater is a caldera formed by the collapse of a large volcano in the Great RIFT VALLEY. It is considered to be the largest subsidence crater in the world with a width of over 12.5 mi […]

McKinley, Mount

MOUNT MCKINLEY is the highest peak in North America with a summit at 20,329 ft (6,196 m). Located in the 600-mi- (965-km-) long Alaskan Mountain Range, it is approximately 150 mi (246 km) south of Fairbanks, ALASKA. Mount McKinley is home to more than 650 species of flowering plants, as well as mosses, lichens, fungi, […]

Kyushu Mountains

THE KYUSHU MOUNTAINS form the high, elevated central portion of the Japanese island of Kyushu, the southernmost of JAPAN's four main islands. Running roughly diagonally across the island, northeast to southwest, they cut Kyushu into a northern and southern sector. These sectors differ markedly from each other in many ways, from geology to economics: the […]

Kosciusko, Mount

MOUNT KOSCIUSKO (also spelled “Kosciuszko”) is the highest point (7,310 ft or 2,228 m) in mainland AUSTRALIA. Named after the Polish military leader Thaddeus Kosciuszko (1746–1817), the mountain is a core component of the Kosciuszko National Park in the state of New South Wales. One of the Australian Alps national parks, the park is a […]

Kopet Mountains

THE SMALL RANGE of mountains that forms the northern boundary of IRAN with TURKMENISTAN is known as the Kopet Dag, or Kopet Mountains (Kopetdag in Turkmen). The range stretches for 400 mi (645 km), from a point near the CASPIAN SEA to the Harirud River in the east, which flows from northwestern AFGHANISTAN to a […]

Kilimanjaro, Mount

A MAJESTIC ROCKY GIANT, Mount Kilimanjaro is crowned by an icecap, impressively dominating the scenery. Mount Kilimanjaro towers above the Masai Steppe or the Great Rift Valley, which is believed to be the site of the origin of humankind. Pictures that shaped our imagination of East Africa are firmly connected to Kilimanjaro. The highest mountain […]

Hindu Kush

HINDU KUSH (or Hindukush) is the main mountain range in the Central Asian state of AFGHANISTAN. Hindu Kush is the westernmost extension of the Pamir mountain, the Karakoram (K-2), and the western HIMALAYAS. The origin of the term Hindu Kush (which translates as “Hindu Killer” or “Killer of Hindus”) is a point of controversy among […]


THE HIMALAYAN mountain region, located between INDIA and TIBET, has the world's highest peaks. It stretches from the INDUS RIVER in the west to the Brahamaputra in the east and has a length of 1,500 mi (2,414 km) and a width from 100 to 150 mi (161 to 241 km). Northwest of the Indus, the […]

Everest, Mount

A PEAK ON THE CREST of the Great Himalayan range in Asia, Everest is the highest point on the Earth. It lies in the Central HIMALAYAS on the border between NEPAL and CHINA (Tibet). Three barren ridges, the southeast, northeast and west culminate in two summits at Everest (29,028 ft or 8,848 m) and South […]

Ethiopian Highlands

ETHIOPIA IS A LANDLOCKED nation located in northeastern Africa in an area known as the HORN OF AFRICA. While containing large stretches of plains in the east and south, the country is dominated by highlands, which rise to well over 3,000 ft (1,300 m), and the Great Rift Valley, which is several hundred meters below sea […]

Elburz Mountains

THE ELBURZ (or Alborz) Mountains are a narrow mountain range that curve along the southern shore of the Caspian Sea in the north of IRAN. From west to east, the range measures about 600 mi or 970 km long. The Elburz range forms a climatic barrier between the Caspian and the Central Iranian Plateau. The […]

Elbrus, Mount

MOUNT ELBRUS IS the highest point in Europe, at 18,513 ft (5,642 m). It is the central peak of the CAUCASUS MOUNTAINS range, located 6.8 mi (11 km) north of the main ridge that forms the boundary between GEORGIA and RUSSIA, thus placing the mountain within Europe, since the traditional dividing line between Asia and […]

Drakensberg Mountains

THE DRAKENSBERG Mountains form one of the most scenic natural areas in SOUTH AFRICA. The mountain range straddles the eastern border of LESOTHO, a LANDLOCKED nation lying within the boundaries of South Africa, located about 150 mi (250 km) northwest of Durban. The name Drakensberg means “Dragon Mountains” in Afrikaans. The range is also known […]

Caucasus Mountains

Caucasus Mountains

THE CAUCASUS MOUNTAINS are the highest mountain range in Europe, but lie at the very eastern extremity of what geographers consider to be Europe. In fact, the dividing line traditionally used to divide Europe from Asia runs directly through the center of the range. Forming both a barrier and a connector for civilizations between the […]

Atlas Mountains

THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS of northwest Africa are an elaborate assemblage of mountain ranges that trend from southern coastal MOROCCO and the CANARY ISLANDS, through ALGERIA into coastal TUNISIA. Extending more than 1,500 km (932 mi) and chiefly composed of sedimentary and igneous rocks that have been folded and faulted over the past 85 to 150 […]

Appalachian Mountains

THE APPALACHIAN Mountains of eastern North America comprise a north to south-tending range that extends for 1,600 mi (2,500 km) from the Gaspe Peninsula in Atlantic Maritime CANADA to northern ALABAMA in the UNITED STATES. Uplifted by the collision of continents ancestral to North America and Africa 270 million years ago, the Appalachian Mountains are the […]


THE ANDES IS A mountain system in South America. The mountains form the “backbone” of South America, stretching from the Caribbean coast along the western side of the continent to its southern tip. The name Andes probably derives from either Quechua or Aymara, the two principal Native American languages of South America. Plate-tectonic forces during […]

Altai Mountains

THE ALTAI MOUNTAINS are a system of remote mountains in central Asia that cover an area of 326,256 square mi (845,000 square km) bounding RUSSIA, KAZAKHSTAN, MONGOLIA, and CHINA. This system is a natural marvel that has been largely untouched by large industries and has a very sparse population. Its name is derived from the […]


THE ALPS ARE Europe's major mountain chain, occupying center stage between the  ultural and geographic regions of western, eastern, southern, and northern Europe. Stretching in an arc about 600 mi (1,000 km) from west to east, the range covers parts of FRANCE, ITALY, SWITZERLAND, LIECHTENSTEIN, AUSTRIA, and SLOVENIA, with related features extending into GERMANY, CROATIA, and […]

Ahaggar Mountains

THE AHAGGAR IS a large mountainous plateau region lying on the TROPIC OF CANCER in the north-central SAHARA DESERT. It covers an area of 210,000 square mi (543,900 square km) which is about the size of FRANCE, or of ARIZONA and NEW MEXICO combined. It is about 1,000 mi (1,609 km) east of the ATLANTIC […]

Aconcagua Mountain

ACONCAGUA MOUNTAIN LIES west of Mendoza, argentina, entirely within Argentina, and immediately east of Argentina's border with chile. The mountain is, at 22,834 ft (6,960 m), not only the tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere, but also the highest outside of Asia. Its twin peaks, the northern of which is the tallest, can be seen […]