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Where: Alaska

Why: Denali is home to Mt. McKinley, the continent’s highest mountain. At 20,320 feet, it’s small compared to Asia’s Himalayas (it doesn’t even come close to the 100 highest), but still attracts more than 1,000 climbers a year from across the globe. That’s because its flanks are pounded by fierce, unpredictable weather patterns that sweep in from both the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea. Also, its far northern latitude makes for low barometric pressure, creating the sensation that climbers are even higher than they actually are. More Info

Runner-Up: Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

This snow-covered, 14,411-foot active volcano overlooking Seattle is one of the country’s classic destinations for beginner mountaineers. More Info