WE KNOW THERE ARE QUESTIONS AROUND TRAVEL AMID THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19). READ OUR NOTE TO READERS HERE.
Everyone knows about the Alps, the Rockies, and the Himalayas — but have you heard of these five lesser-known mountain ranges? While crowds descend on some of the more popular peaks of the world, keep in mind that there are plenty of places where you can get an elevated view of some stunning terrain. Here are a few underrated mountain ranges to consider for your next adventure.
Painted in vibrant shades of blue and green, the Cairngorms of northern Scotland are some of the most beautiful mountains. This stunning range became part of the Cairngorms National Park in 2003. Groups of rocks are strewn across the alpine terrain and the granite cliffs are popular among climbers in the summer. Whenwinter brings snow, the Cairngorms become popular with skiers, and snow lingers on the ground long after the weather warms, stretching the fun out. The Cairngorms are also rich with wildlife, including the only herd of reindeer found in Britain. If you visit, you’ll have the choice to either stay in a hotel or camp. And there’s something for every member of the family to do — from golf, to biking, to simply walking through the hills in search of wildlife.
Brooks Range, Alaska, USA
Alaska and Canada are both filled with breathtaking mountains, but the peaks found in the Brooks Range fly relatively under the radar — so to speak. These mountains stretch from northern Alaska into the Yukon Territory, and at their highest point, reach an elevation of 8,976 feet. This dramatic area sees hundreds of thousands of caribou migrating through each year. Many visitors to the region choose to rent a cabin and then go canoeing or rafting to view the caribou or simply explore the area; since the mountains are not typically frequented by visitors, they remain relatively untouched and wild. Wildlife enthusiasts will also love the Brooks Range because of its volume and variety of animals, including many rare birds, such as yellow-billed loons, bluethroats, and bristle-thighed curlew.
Serranía del Baudó, Panama and Colombia
Many people go to Colombia for the Andes. And there’s nothing wrong with that — the Andes have a ton to offer. But why not try the lesser-known Baudó Mountains instead? This coastal mountain range extends from the Isthmus of Panama and stretches about 233 miles into Colombia, with the highest point of elevation sitting at 5,940 feet. The Baudó Mountains are hugely unexplored, so you'll enjoy a the scenery in relative isolation. Consider visiting the Utria National Natural Park near the city of Tribuga, which peers out over the Pacific Ocean and includes beach towns and laid-back accommodation for travelers.
Tian Shan, Central Asia
Tian Shan means “Mountains of Heaven” or “Celestial Mountains,” and that’s an appropriate name for this mountain range in Central Asia — these peeks look like they touch the sky. This mountain range runs over approximately 1,500 miles from Tajikstan to the border of China and Mongolia. The highest summit in the group sits at 7,439 meters, or 24,406 feet. Throughout this mountain range, you'll find plenty of snowy peaks, calm forests, and clear lakes, with many endangered plant species (2,500 types of flora total) making their home in these mountains. Below the alpine environment of the mountains you’ll find the desert floor, making for a stark contrast. If you decide to visit, you’ll need to be prepared for lots of serious hiking, and you’ll want to hire a guide.
Aravalli Range, India
Found in India, the Aravalli Range (the name means, appropriately, “line of peaks”) runs from eastern Gujarat almost to Delhi. Most of the range lies in Rajasthan, bordering the desert. The Aravalli is 500 miles long and its highest point is 5,650 feet. The range has several historical forts that were constructed over the years, and archeologists working in the area have discovered artifacts from the Stone Age. Now, the forts and palaces are popular places for people to visit. There’s plenty for tourists to do, such as visiting the annual camel fair at Pushkar.