Last Updated on March 18, 2023
New statistical analysis has determined Mount Rainer to be America’s best mountain climbing destination. Not exactly “mountain climbing, with ropes and chalk and harness, more tops of the best places to hike in United States.
A study by family vacation experts Family Destinations Guide analyzed Instagram hashtag data, TripAdvisor ratings, and TripAdvisor reviews of 600 mountainous destinations in America to assign every mountain a ‘Peak Score’ to reveal the best mountain climbing destinations in the country. These are all popular tourist destinations requiring no specialized skills or equipment.
They’re safe and “doable” for most healthy, active people; hundreds of visitors every day can be found on them when weather conditions allow. A note about that: any time you’re visiting the mountains, check weather predictions in advance because dramatic changes can occur rapidly leaving you exposed in dangerous situations of wind, cold, snow or rain if unawares and unprepared.
These best places to hike in United States are strenuous in most cases, don’t overestimate your fitness level and risk injury.
Mount Rainer in Washington tops the best places to hike in United States ranking with a peak score of 22 out of 30. It has 439,039 Instagram posts with the hashtag #mountrainier and a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor. The 14,410-foot elevation has 1,796 reviews on TripAdvisor, with visitors describing their mountain climbing experience as “a must-do”.
Visitors can tuck into meals at the Summit House Restaurant and the National Park Inn Dining Room and spend the night in the Ata Crystal Resort or the National Park Inn after the trek.
Haleakala Crater in Maui, Hawaii is the second-best destination for mountain climbing, scoring 19 out of 30 points. The 10,023-foot mountain has 8,071 reviews on TripAdvisor and is rated 4.5 by visitors on the platform. There are 22,580 Instagram posts associated with the hashtag #haleakalacrater. Visitors tagged their visit as “incredible views” and “something you must see in person.” Waking up well before dawn to see sunrise here is a favorite of many visitors.
Coming third is Lookout Mountain, Georgia earning a peak score of 18.7 out of 30 points. Overlooking Chattanooga, TN 4,328 visitors have recorded their reviews of the 2,392-foot phenomenon on TripAdvisor and have rated it 4.5 stars. The mountain ridge has three scenic attractions: Ruby Falls, Rock City, and the Incline Railway, and it has pulled in 190,778 Instagram posts with the hashtag #lookoutmountain.
Lookout Mountain was the site of a major Civil War battle and that history is interpreted here as well. When skies are clear, thanks to its elevation and quirky geography, you can see seven states: Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.
Grand Teton ranks as the fourth best mountain climbing destination in the US with 18.4 out of 30 points. Situated in Wyoming, the hashtag #grandteton has 221,091 posts featuring icy peaks, wildlife, and sunsetting views of the 13,775-foot beauty. A visit to the 5-starred pinnacle left one of the 2,784 reviewed climbers describing it as ‘beautiful awesome mountains.’
Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park a few short miles away bring millions to the area each year.
Rounding out the top five is Arizona’s Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, with a peak score of 17.2 points, garnering 2,548 reviews and a 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor, together with 221,091 Instagram posts under the hashtag #camelbackmountain.
Camelback Mountain may be within eyeshot of Phoenix, but don’t underestimate this steep, rocky climb because of its urban setting. With heat indexes soaring to 120-plus degrees in the summer and a challenging route, avoid midday and give yourself at least 2-hours to get up and back at a rigorous, steady pace – even if you’re in shape.
Following behind is Mount Washington, Pennsylvania, in sixth place with a 17.1 peak score. The 4.5-rated mountain has 3,029 reviews on TripAdvisor and 192,533 Instagram posts with the hashtag #mountwashington.
In seventh place is Colorado’s Maroon Bells near Aspen, scoring 16.9 points with 165,220 Instagram posts and 2,609 reviews for the 5-star mountain on TripAdvisor. A lake near the parking lot and aspens glowing yellow in the fall make this among the most scenic hikes in the U.S.
Cadillac Mountain in Maine is eighth with 16.2 points, Mauna Kea Summit in Hawaii places ninth with 14.8 points, and Tennessee’s Clingmans Dome is tenth with a peak score of 14.2 points.
For our money here at TravelByVacationRental, we think Breckenridge, Colorado is tops the best places to hike in United States. While we’ve visited most of those listed here, we continue returning to Breckenridge for the variety of hiking trails from easy to strenuous, the scenery, as well as all the activities and restaurants in town to enjoy after a day on the trails.
How did nowhere in California make this list? Hmm… questionable suggestions, but a good place to start.