8 Spectacular Mountain Ranges You Need to Put on Your Bucket List
There are a lot of ways to travel, like living and working abroad, putting aside time to travel intentionally, or hitting the closest national parks whenever you get a spare weekend. However you prioritize your vacation plans, making a bucket list is key. You probably already have countless cities and monuments you want to visit, but we have another suggestion to add to your growing list: mountain ranges. Often spanning several states (or countries!), mountain ranges give you the benefit of spending time in nature and getting to see parts of the world you may not have otherwise considered. Here are the peaks you'll definitely want to see.
Himalayas, Nepal: Known for being home to some of the world’s tallest mountains, like Mount Everest and K2, the Himalayas span five countries and include more than 50 mountains that exceed 23,600 feet in height. If you’re not a mountaineer, don’t worry: There are plenty of shorter hikes in the area, like the five-day (that’s short in Himalayan terms!) Ghorepani trek, that still let you experience the majesty of the mountains.
Rocky Mountains, Canada: Did you think the Rockies were just limited to Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park? Nope. The range extends through eight states and all the way into Canada, where some of the most spectacular views can be seen. Take a trip to Banff National Park and explore the Columbia Icefield after taking in the stunning scenery at Lake Louise or trekking on a short hike to Hoodoos, both of which offer iconic views of the range.
Swiss Alps, Switzerland: If you're more of a skier than a hiker, the Swiss Alps offer plenty of powder. One of the most recognizable peaks in the Alps is the Matterhorn, but you don't have to be an adrenaline junkie to ski in the area. Multiple beginner-level courses are also available and can be found in places like the mountain village of Andermatt, which is home to several resorts.
Northern Japanese Alps, Japan: The Japanese Alps are three separate mountain ranges, the Hida Mountains (Northern Alps), Kiso Mountains (Central Alps), and Akaishi Mountains (Southern Alps). All are worth seeing, but if you want this view of Mount Tateyama in the Northern Alps, all it takes is a ride up in a Tateyama Ropeway cable car. You can also take the Kurobe Gorge Railway through the Hida Mountains and stop off at one of several hot springs.
Andes, Patagonia: The Andes are the dividing line between Chile and Argentina at the southern tip of South America, and the range bisects an area known as Patagonia. Glaciers and icebergs are par for the course in this area, and the terrain is undoubtedly rugged and remote. Los Glaciares National Park and Torres del Paine National Park are popular destinations. Unless you're especially outdoorsy, you may be happier — and safer — as part of a guided tour, like ones offered by REI Adventures.
Dolomites, Italy: Italy is good for more than just delicious wine and pasta. The northeastern part of the country is home to the Dolomites, a breathtaking mountain range that was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. In the wintertime, skiing is a popular sport, but during warmer weather, biking and hiking take over. Hike up to Lago di Braies, a gorgeous blue-green lake nestled among peaks, and bask in the unbelievable scenery.
Southern Alps, New Zealand: A range that runs much of the length of New Zealand's South Island, these are not small mountains — the highest peak, Aoraki (also known as Mount Cook), is a whopping 12,218 feet high. Take a road trip to the small town of Lake Takapo or walk the popular Hooker Valley track along the Hooker River — and don't forget to snap some pictures!
Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda: The third highest peak in Africa, Mount Stanley, lies within the Rwenzori Mountains. This mountain range runs along the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and their snowmelt is a main contributor to the water of the Nile River. Everything from a short day hike to a multi-day trek is available in the area, and the Rwenzori Mountains National Park is home to forest elephants, chimpanzees, monkeys, and a host of other plant and animal biodiversity.
(Photos via Getty)