Poll: What’s the Best American Mountain Range?

When did mountain ranges make the radical shift from something to be avoided to playgrounds in which to frolic? In the early 1800s, when Lewis and Clark made their epic journey across the western half of the continent, mountains defined them, funneled them, dogged them. For most of human history, mountain ranges have been seen as fraught with danger, capricious in weather and avalanche, perilous labyrinths filled with dead ends and catch-your-breath passes.

The topography hasn’t changed, of course, but our understanding of it has, as well as our abilities to navigate and manage risks. Humans have always respected mountain ranges, but as our perspective on them has changed, that respect can be based on familiarity and comfort rather than fear.

And that means that today when we call mountains “awesome” it can mean everything from “I am feeling awe right now” to “sick, bro.” We bring our newfound recreational viewpoint to them, as as well as local knowledge – not just our personal knowledge, but the collective knowledge of communities gathered at their bases.

So, how do we judge mountains when we want call them something as simplistic as “best”? Is it based on their majesty? Their importance to the cultural? The ease with which one can sketch their skyline in a journal?

We’ll leave that up to you. Select as many as you like.

Disclaimer: No, not all American ranges are listed, just the major ones. If we’ve left our your favorite, list it in the comments.

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This week, one poll participant will receive Smith Optic’s Lowdown sunglasses. We’ll pick the winner via random number generator (and announce it here) – all you have to do to enter is vote and leave a comment so we have your email to contact you. Must have a U.S. or Canadian address. Contest ends Sunday, September 6, at midnight PST.

Congratulations to Matt Haarman, who wins the Smiths this week!


Photo by Chris Weber




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