We know there are questions around travel amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Read our note here.
Majestic views of the world’s most stunning mountains are clearly not black and white. In fact, many peaks have been named after every color of the rainbow. Here are some of the most well-known mountains named for their chromatic appearance.
Hongshan (Red Mountain), China
Researchers believe that the earliest Chinese kingdom in the Neolithic Age began nearly 6,500 years ago — 2,400 years prior to the first known dynasty, Xia Dynasty. The kingdom was named Hongshan, which translates to “Red Mountain,” and is believed to refer to a red peak in the area. Pottery and artifacts from the kingdom were dug up in recent years, and geologists think the arid land used to be home to rivers and lakes, allowing the Hongshan settlement to thrive around Red Mountain.
However, very little is known about the Hongshan people themselves, who anthropologists believe were unable to survive in the region once harsh desert conditions arrived. Today, the red mountain stands in the city of Ürümqi and features a park at the top with panoramic views and a pagoda.
Červená Hora, Czechia
In the Czech Republic, Červená Hora, which also translates to “Red Mountain,” refers to a village situated 1,237 feet above sea level in the Upa River Valley on the road between the towns of Česká Skalice and Červený Kostelec, about two hours northeast of Prague near the Polish border. The red mountain was named for its crimson color caused by the high iron content in the soil. The sleepy towns are worth a stop en route to see the dramatic stone formations in Broumovsko Protected Landscape Area or Krkonoše National Park to see the ruins of the Red Mountain Castle, dating back to the mid 1200s.
Red Mountain, Washington
There is no shortage of “Red Mountains” in the United States, ranging from Colorado and Montana to New York and Wyoming. While some, like Red Mountain in Wellington, Colorado, did earn the namesake shade from the obvious crimson rocks in the region, others may bear the title for harder-to-spot reasons. Take, for instance, the Red Mountain region in south-central Washington.
The peak’s name reportedly came from the area’s native grass called drooping brome (or cheatgrass), which has reddish hue in the spring. But there’s another reason the region is associated with the color: the red grapes that grow in the area, which are known for their exceptional color and used to make wine. Certified as an American Viticultural Area in 2001, the area has quickly turned into one of the state’s premier wine-tasting regions.
Orange Mountain, New Jersey
There is a slight debacle about the name “Orange Mountain” and what exactly it refers to. The Watchung Mountains — named after the Lenape word for high hill — have three main ridges, each with a very specific type of basalt. The First Watchung Mountain, as it’s called, has a rusty color, giving it an orange sheen. There is also an Orange Trail in Watchung Reservation, a 2,000-acre preserve designed by the Olmsted brothers who designed New York City’s Central Park.
Among the preserve’s highlights is the Deserted Village of Feltville, an abandoned town from the early 1900s that's remarkably well-preserved. There are also four separate municipalities named Orange in the area: Orange, West Orange, East Orange, and South Orange; their names derived from the British ruling house, the House of Orange.
Yellow Mountain, Montana
Tucked in Glacier National Park’s northeastern corner between Many Glacier Valley and Chief Mountain is a 8,966-foot-tall peak named after its notable yellow rock. But the truth is, those who make the trek there find that it’s actually filled with more than just the one shade as red, green, grey, white, and black rocks all appear along the ridge. Since so few people come to the area, hikers will often find themselves mingling with bighorn sheep and mountain goats before running into other humans. Those who reach the peak will be treated to views of boulder fields and surrounding peaks, including Gable Mountain and Mount Merritt.
Green Mountain, Vermont
The 250-mile-long mountain range running through central Vermont is so green in appearance from its verdant forested peaks that it gave the state its name. That’s right — Vermont itself is a combination of the French words “vert,” which means green and “mont,” which means mountain.
The highest points in the system are Mount Mansfield at 4,393 feet tall and Killington Peak at 4,235 feet tall, which fall along the Appalachian Trail. They also belong to the 400,000-acre Green Mountain National Forest, which is a joint designation with the 16,212-acre Finger Lakes National Forest in upstate New York between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. With more than 900 miles of trails, eight wilderness areas, and numerous ski areas, lakes, and streams, the area is great for outdoor adventures, including hiking, fishing, camping, and biking.
Blue Mountains, Australia
Gaze upon the Blue Mountains about an hour west of Sydney and you might notice that the peaks are shrouded in a blue haze. According to the University of Sydney’s physics department, the eucalyptus oil droplets in the air mixes with dust and water, shortening the wavelengths of the light rays so they can be perceived as blue. But that’s only part of the range’s allure. The massive, 2.5-million-acre area is so variegated that it has eight different conservation reserves.
The most famous conservation site is the Three Sisters, a trio of sandstone turrets recognized as an important Aboriginal landmark. Also within the park is Scenic World, a set of rides that showcase the stunning views including the world’s steepest train, the Scenic Railway.
Blue Mountains, Pacific Northwest
Spanning 190 miles across three states in the Pacific Northwest, the Blue Mountains, known simply as “the Blues” to locals, are thought to have gotten their hue from the dense pine trees, which have a dark blue aura. Geological features in the area include canyons, gorges, woodlands, lakes, forests, and meadows, but one of the most fascinating sites is ever-evolving — a 3.5-square-mile fungi, which is believed to be roughly 8,000 years old and weighs 35,000 pounds.
Blue Ridge Mountains, Eastern U.S.
Running through much of the eastern U.S. across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia, the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are part of the Appalachian Mountains, are most often experienced via the Blue Ridge Parkway that runs through the heart of North Carolina and Virginia.
The 469-mile-long drive was the most visited area in the entire national parks system in 2020, with 14.1 million visitors, even topping Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The name “Blue Ridge” stems from the spruce and fir trees in the forests that emit a blue aura when hydrocarbons are released into the atmosphere.
Purple Mountain, Ireland
Kerry County, which is often referred to as “The Kingdom,” is known as the mountain capital of Ireland. Its standout peak is arguably Purple Mountain, which tops out at 2,723 feet tall. The mountain has a purple hue when the light hits the sandstone just right. Purple Mountain is just one of the peaks in the Purple Mountain Group, which also includes Shehy Mountain and Tomies Mountain.
The Killarney area is popular for hikers, with trails for all levels, including walking paths through the woodlands and lakes. The six-mile-long Purple Mountain Trail is for experienced hikers, but is well worth the climb for views of the dramatic Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range.
Vinicunca (Rainbow Mountain), Peru
Also known as Vinicunca, which translates to “colored mountain” in Peru’s Quechua native language, Rainbow Mountain had been covered by snow until about four years ago, revealing its true colors. With various layers of sediment settling over thousands of years, the mountain features awe-inspiring bands of 14 colors, including turquoise, gold, and even pale lavender.
While the peak is technically in the Cusco area (which also serves as the home base for trips to Machu Picchu), it’s still about three hours from the city center, but is quickly becoming another popular Peruvian trek for its spectacular range of colors.