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Denali (Mount McKinley), Alaska, USA

U.S. National Park Service photo (fair use policy)

Denali is officially known as Mount McKinley, a name given this awesome peak to honor a second-rank American president. Denali is the native name. It's the highest point on the North American continent and a world-class mountaineering destination. In Coming Into the Country, John McPhee called it "a sky of rock." No mere Web image could do it justice.

The forces that lifted Denali—subduction, the passage of the Pacific crustal plate beneath the North American plate—also raised great ranges across southern Alaska. As that huge sheet of ocean-floor rock plunges downward into the mantle, it shoves and crumples the continent into soaring mountains. These include the most active volcanoes on the continent, too. Look for some of their pictures in the Gallery of Peaks.

Denali collects snow, which feeds several large glaciers. The one in the foreground here is Muldrow Glacier, on the mountain's northeast flank.

Back to the Gallery of Peaks

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