1. Pocono Mountains, PA
Located in northeastern Pennsylvania, the Poconos are a smaller, more hilly mountain region noted for the many recreational opportunities. No matter what you are into, you will find something you will love here. Recreation options include fishing, skiing, hiking, and racing, among many other activities. There are many cabins and chalets to rent, along with a few resorts if you are not very fond of the rustic wilderness life. A few natural places worth noting within these mountains include Dingmans Falls, Lake Ariel, Big Pocono State Park, and Camelback Mountain.
2. Sandia Mountains, NM
These mountains are found in central New Mexico near Albuquerque, so you can get a bit of the city and a bit of the mountains when visiting this region. Take a day to hike up Sandia Peak and catch beautiful sunsets, or drive to the top to experience the great view. Rock climbing, hiking, and hang gliding are popular recreational activities in these mountains, but you can also enjoy them while visiting the city if the outdoors is not really your thing. Pueblo Indians lived here for thousands of years, so there is much native history to uncover here.
3. Smoky Mountains, TN & NC
The Great Smokies, a part of the Appalachian Mountain chain in Tennessee and North Carolina were named for the thick fog that often blankets these peaks. Most of these mountains are enveloped within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which helps protect the elk and black bear inhabiting the region. There are many trails and historic sites and cities in the area, so there is plenty to do. Visit Clingmans Dome, the highest point in these mountains, and overlook the range from a tower on top. Also nearby is Cherokee, a Native American Reservation, and Gatlinburg, a fun tourist town.
4. Gallatin Mountains, MT & WY
This mountain range is a part of the Rocky Mountains and extends through parts of Montana and Wyoming. Within this range is the Gallatin Petrified Forest, well worth seeing, and part of Yellowstone National Park. Bozeman, MT, is a commonplace for visitors to this range to stay, as it is close, yet still provides the comforts of civilization. Electric Peak, the tallest peak in this range, is over two miles high, so it is probably best to just take in its beauty instead of venturing up it unless you enjoy hardcore mountain climbing.
5. San Francisco Mountains, AZ
Don’t be fooled by the name; these peaks are in Arizona, not California. Close to historic Flagstaff, these peaks are volcanic and contain Arizona’s highest point, Humphrey’s Peak. Hart Prairie and the Coconino National Forest are found among these mountains and are very popular recreational areas, skiing being and hiking being the most popular activities. These peaks are important to the religions of many local Native American Tribes, some peaks even being deemed sacred. There are all sorts of climates to experience, so you will not run short of outdoor adventure options.
6. San Juan Mountains, CO & NM
A range within the Rocky Mountains located in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, these peaks were gold and silver mining hotspots. Thus, many of the towns, like Telluride and Silverton, have roots in old mining camps. Follow old trails linking the mining towns, some now ghost towns, or ride the train from one to the next. There are many extinct volcanoes in this region, so hiking through the mountains is a good idea if you want to safely see a volcano up close. Some noteworthy natural wonders here are Bridal Veil Falls, Twilight Peak, and Red Mountain Pass.