The Most Photographed Mountains
If you were to Google “the most photographed mountains in the world” or “the most photographed mountains in the United States” you would see lists such as the 9 most photographed mountains. These lists of the most photographed mountains would include Denali, the highest mountain in North America, and Mt Rainier, which is a photographic icon for the state of Washington.
The eastern half of the United States would be represented on a list of most photographed mountains as it would have to include the Great Smoky Mountains which got its name from the blue-colored mist that hangs above mountains and looks like smoke.
The mountains of the western half would be included on a most beautiful mountain list. Glacier National Park is a photographer’s dream destination with its glacier-carved peaks, valleys, and turquoise lakes. One of my favorite mountain photography locations has to be the Grand Tetons with its rugged mountain range that reaches toward the skies.
It is easy to say that all Fine Art Landscape Photography has its share of Mountain Photography. Mountains have a somewhat magical attraction to us. We can see them in the distance growing larger as we drive closer and closer to them. But photographing mountains has its challenges as I note in my article Five Challenges of Mountain Photography including finding the proper foreground and hoping that the right kind of clouds will appear.
For example, weather and clouds are an important aspect of an iconic mountain photograph of Maroon Bells in southwest Colorado. Another iconic mountain photograph spot is Maroon Bells in southwest Colorado. If the weather conditions are right, you can capture the perfect photograph of Maroon Bells with its beautiful red jagged peaks reflecting in the lake.
The United States is not the only location for stunning mountain fine art photography. I was fortunate to photograph the Dolomites of Italy which are a part of the northern Alps. The red dolomite sandstone and unique rock formations make this a candidate for stunning mountain photography. (For more on photographing the Dolomites, please see my February 2020 Trip Report, The Italian Dolomites in Winter.)
My fine art mountain photography captures the various moods of the mountain landscape from reflective sunrise to the drama that storm clouds create. If you enjoy mountain fine art photography, there will be a print in this gallery that would bring life to your home or office décor.
Visiting and Photographing Mountains
Mountain Photography. For me, it’s right there with photographing coastlines, lakes, and rivers. Sometimes, it's possible to do both at the same time. That is the ultimate in Landscape and Nature Photography.
Although I prefer the steep and jagged mountains of the Western United States, I feel the beauty and coziness of the mountains in the east.
The Mountains in the Eastern U.S.
The soft, rolling mountains of the Appalachians in the east have their own charm, especially with fall colors. The mountain range runs from Alabama to Canada and includes the Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge Mountains, Alleghany Mountains, the Catskills, Poconos, and the Green and White Mountains of New England.
The Mountains in the Western U.S.
Almost every western state has mountains. Arizona has the Superstitions, California has the Sierras, Colorado has the San Juan Mountains, Wyoming has the Grand Tetons, Oregon has Mount Hood and others, Washington State has Mount Rainer, Mount St. Helens, and the Northern Cascades.
The Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rockies are an entirely different world. There is no better place to see and photograph incredible mountain scenes. The mountains run from Banff National Park to Jasper National Park.
Beginning in the south, there are the Three Sisters in Canmore, the amazing Mount Assiniboine in Kananaskis along and the scene of Mount Rundle over Vermillion Lakes.
Continuing north, there is the Valley of Ten Peaks at Moraine Lake, the mountain scene at Lake Louise and the stunning scene at Emerald Lake. The south end of the Icefields Parkways offers iconic views at Bow Lake and Peyto Lake.
Further up the road brings you to mountain views at the Athabasca River and Sunwapta Falls. As you approach Jasper, there is Mount Edith Cavell at Cavell Lake. In jasper, there are beautiful views at Pyramid Lake, Medicine Lake, and Maligne Lake.
Mountains in other countries
There are stunning mountain ranges all over the world and I know I won’t be able to photograph most of them. I was fortunate to be able to photograph mountains in Norway on the Lofoten Peninsula and in Spitsbergen.
Two other mountain ranges that should be on any mountain lover’s bucket list would be the Italian Dolomites and the mountains of Patagonia.
They are constantly on my list of where I want to return to again. If you find me in the field, it’s a good chance there are mountains nearby.
Fun Facts about Mountains
Many of the pictures in this gallery are of the Dolomites, a mountain group in the eastern section of the northern Italian Alps. They are formed of light-colored dolomitic limestone and over the years, weather and erosion has carved them into jagged and saw-ridged shapes with rocky pinnacle and deep gorges. They are now included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The main center of this area is the resort town of Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Why and when were the Winter Olympics cancelled? The 1944 Winter Games, which were to be held at the resort town of Contina d’Ampezzo, were canceled because of World War II.
If at first you don’t succeed then try, try, try again – In 1956, Cortina d’Ampezzo finally hosted the Seventh Winter Olympic Games which was attended by 800 athletes representing 32 countries.
Tunnels and World War I – in the winter of 1917, war was raging along the Italian Front, the border between Austria-Hungary and Italy. The 33rd Company of the Italian Army was tasked with the construction of a mule road to secure the ridges of the mountain front exposed to enemy fire and to provide an access road to a much-needed military camp. Armed with basically pickaxes, dynamite, and true grit, the six hundred men of the Italian 5th Engineering Regiment completed this monumental task in 11 months. The Road of 52 Tunnels, as it is known today, is considered one of the most striking feats of military engineering and is now a popular hiking trail taken by thousands of people every year.
Time for a non-Dolomite fun fact. Where and when was the first United States National Monument established? In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt chose Devils Tower in Wyoming as the first National Monument. It is also a sacred symbol to several Native American tribes.
True or False? Devils Tower is made of Styrofoam. Hmmm.. False. Devils Tower is a natural rock tower- a remnant of volcanic activity. It is important to note it is not a volcano as it was formed underground from molten rock that was then pushed up into sedimentary rock and became solid. And it is not hollow, like a Chocolate Easter Bunny, but composed of a rock that is similar to a less sparkly granite.
What movie was Devils Tower featured in? Devils Tower also played an important role in Steven Spielberg’s 1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The film tells the story of several individuals’ experiences with extra-terrestrial phenomena. One individual, Roy Neary (played by Richard Dreyfuss), has an obsession with visions of a mountain. He travels to Devils Tower as he believes it to be a contact point. While there, he witnesses the arrival of the extra-terrestrial mothership. After the aliens return previous abductees, Neary and others are chosen to go with the aliens to outer space. Filming began on May 17, 1976.
Mountains have been featured not only in movies but have been the basis for many songs. Marvin Gaye and, then later, Diana Ross singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” – the stirring words of “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music as the von Trapp Family climbed their way to freedom through the Alps – John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” – the Christmas song “Go Tell It On the Mountain” – and how we could forget the University of Tennessee’s adopted fight song - “Rocky Top”.
Last but not least, there are the famous lyrics of “The Bear Went Over the Mountain to See What He Could See.”
The beauty and strength of mountains are noted in scriptures found in the Bible. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus states “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you”. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:2: “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
In short, the majesty of mountains—whether they be in Italy or Canada or the United States—enrich our lives in multiple ways---in art, literature, music, travel—and provide us with opportunities where we can stop and take time to reflect on the beauty around us. I hope you enjoy the photographs in this gallery.