Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, rises like the phoenix from the western rim of the Great Basin Desert of California. At an elevation of 14, 495 feet, Whitney looms high above Death Valley, the lowest point in North America at 262 feet below sea level, less than 100 miles to the east.
Located within the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range of Sequoia National Park, Mt. Whitney is situated on the east side of the Great Western Divide, a chain of mountains that runs north/south through the center of the park, and is therefore not visible from any of the roads to the west.
But Mt. Whitney can easily be viewed from nearby Lone Pine, California (hotels) on U.S. Highway 395, which runs north/south along the eastern foot of the Sierras. Highway 395 can be reached via Interstate 15 near Victorville, California, over Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park (summer only) or by coming south from Reno, Nevada. There are no roads across the Sierras in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
Mt. Whitney is the most frequently climbed peak in the Sierra Nevada, and perhaps the entire U.S. The summit can be reached most directly via a 10.7-mile trail from Whitney Portal, 13 miles west of Lone Pine. Ice axes and crampons are needed in spring and early summer, but technical climbing equipment is not usually necessary between mid-July and early October. During snow-free summer months, some individuals in excellent physical condition can climb to the summit and return the same day.