Guidebook

Highpointing the Rockies—From Montana to New Mexico

Climb the highest peak in each of the Rocky Mountain states.

Greg Heil

Description

"Highpointing" is the pursuit of climbing to the top of the highest point above sea level in each of the 50 United States of America. In many ways, this is an entirely arbitrary goal, since many of the flat eastern states' highpoints consist of little more than low hills or elevated sections of prairie. But in some parts of the nation, to reign as a state's high point requires a vaulted summit soaring high into the sky, and it is precisely these lofty mountain peaks that inspire the imagination and encourage climbers to set their sights upon these distinguished summits.

This guidebook skips the ho-hum hills of the Midwest and instead shares the renowned and challenging summits of the Rocky Mountain States. Interestingly, determining which states qualify as "Rocky Mountain States" is unclear and up to individual interpretation, so for this guidebook, I've included Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. Some other lists leave off New Mexico, and even others include Nevada and even Arizona. If you're interested in a list of all the highpoints in the Western USA, search for a separate guidebook on that theme here on FATMAP.

Moving from North to South, Montana starts this list off strong with one of the most technical and demanding highpoints in the United States. Granite Peak soars to a height of 12,807 feet and requires a multi-day backpacking excursion to reach the summit, complete with a highly technical pitch of rock climbing to reach the very top. Unlike some state highpoints, Granite Peak is visually stunning and a worthy objective regardless of its highpoint status.

Next, Borah Peak reaches 12,662 feet above sea level, and while it's not the most visually-impressive mountain in Idaho, it still receives plenty of traffic due to its highpoint status. While there are a few challenging moves, it's an eminently approachable climb.

Gannett Peak in Wyoming is regarded as the most remote highpoint in the lower 48. The round-trip excursion to the 13,809-foot summit of Gannett measures over 40 miles!

13,534-foot King's Peak in Utah is also very remote, tucked away in the little-visited Uintah mountain range.

The highest summit in the US Rockies, venerable Mount Elbert soars to 14,433 feet above sea level! While Elbert shouldn't be underestimated, this summit is actually one of the least-technical climbs on this list, especially when compared to the likes of Granite and Gannett. Even for Colorado 14ers, it doesn't nearly rank among the most technical.

Finally, New Mexico's Wheeler Peak tops out at 13,167 feet above sea level and is hidden deep in one of New Mexico's most remote mountain ranges.

Granite Peak: Huckleberry Creek Route
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Granite Peak: Huckleberry Creek Route

33.4 km
2,389 m
One of the most technical state high points in the USA.
Difficult
Private
Borah Peak
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Borah Peak

Sun Valley
12.2 km
1,607 m
At 12,662 feet ASL, Borah Peak reigns as Idaho's high point
Easy
Private
Pinedale, WY: Gannett Peak

Pinedale, WY: Gannett Peak

Wind River Range
1 day +
32.9 km
2,185 m
886 m
Climb Wyoming's highest peak on this 41-mile out-and-back in the Wind River Range.
Difficult
Private
Henry's Fork to Kings Peak

Henry's Fork to Kings Peak

5 - 6 hrs
21.9 km
1,447 m
205 m
A popular route to the highest peak in Utah
Difficult
Private
Mt. Elbert - Southeast Ridge
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mt. Elbert - Southeast Ridge

Salida
7 - 8 hrs
17.0 km
1,591 m
1,591 m
At 14,433', Mt. Elbert is the tallest mountain in Colorado, and second tallest in the lower 48 states, making its summit a much sought-after destination.
Severe
Private
Wheeler Peak via the Bull of the Woods trail

Wheeler Peak via the Bull of the Woods trail

Taos
6 - 7 hrs
23.1 km
1,417 m
1,418 m
The best way to the highest point in New Mexico
Severe
Private