17 of the Best Songs About Mountains

17 of the Best Songs About Mountains

Try to get ‘Country Roads’ out of your head. Go on, just try.


It seems like mountain songs come from two places: the South, the home of original mountain music, and the West, where bands are either signing about Colorado or are from Colorado. Of course, there are plenty of exceptions, but the majority of iconic songs about mountains tend to fall in one of those two categories. But, there just aren’t that many songs about mountains — unlike, say, pop songs about love, or songs about drugs, or songs about money.

In no particular order:

1. John Denver, “Rocky Mountain High”
This song needs no introduction: famous for being famous, famous for its use in a Coors commercial, and famous for being voted Colorado’s second official state song in 2007. Of course, not everyone loves it, and that’s okay, but there’s not much denying that it’s probably the first to come to a lot of people’s minds when you say “mountain song.” LINK

2. Loretta Lynn, “High On a Mountain Top”
Loretta Lynn was cool before she was friends with Jack White of the White Stripes. Go ahead and attempt to not sing along with her on this track. LINK

3. The Osborne Brothers, “Rocky Top”
FYI, “Rocky Top” is actually not the University of Tennessee’s official fight song, but was adopted by the college’s band in 1972 and might as well be the official fight song in most folks’ minds. LINK

4. Fleet Foxes, “Blue Ridge Mountains”
Not traditional mountain music in any sense, this haunting Fleet Foxes track makes a single reference to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and will make images of wood nymphs appear in your head. LINK

5. Neil Young, “Sugar Mountain”
Actually about lamenting lost youth, and a club Neil Young used to visit as a teenager. LINK

6. Dolly Parton, “Tennessee Mountain Home”
One of the most recognized Dolly Parton songs of all time, this one was actually not much of a hit for Parton. But because quite useful as a theme song at Dollywood. LINK

7. Townes Van Zandt, “Snowin on Raton”
Townes Van Zandt said he loved playing shows in Colorado, because he didn’t have to explain where Raton, New Mexico was (just across the border from Trinidad, on I-25). LINK

8. Harry McClintock, “Big Rock Candy Mountain”
Although there are a couple Big Rock Candy Mountains in the U.S. (one of which is the biggest chunk of exposed rock in Colorado’s South Platte), Harry McClintock’s song is about hobo heaven — the big rock candy mountain. LINK

9. Led Zeppelin, “Misty Mountain Hop”
OK, it’s barely about mountains. Or is it? Ask Robert Plant. LINK

10. Joe Walsh, “Rocky Mountain Way”
The words to “Rocky Mountain Way” came to Joe Walsh when he was mowing his front yard in Colorado, and he walked away from the running lawnmower to write them down. The lawnmower rolled into his neighbor’s garden and destroyed it. The song, and the album it appeared on, The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get, was Walsh’s breakthrough as a solo artist. LINK

11. Toots and the Maytals, “Country Roads” (cover)
Yes, it’s a John Denver song, and when Toots sings it, he changes “West Virginia” to “West Jamaica,” which is actually the less mountainous part of Jamaica, well, one writer for Rolling Stone said it was like John Denver wrote this song for Toots to sing. LINK

12. Flatt & Scruggs, “Blue Ridge Cabin Home”
Classic bluegrass from the legendary Earl Scruggs and the equally legendary Lester Flatt: “When I die won’t you bury me on the mountain/Far away near my Blueridge mountain home” LINK

13. Flatt & Scruggs, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”
See previous, but no singing, just masterful banjo and guitar work by Mr. Flatt and Mr. Scruggs. LINK

14. First Aid Kit, “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” (cover)
This cover of a Fleet Foxes song put sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg on the map — if you’d heard of them before they recorded it in 2008 and put it on YouTube, you probably lived in their native Sweden. LINK

15. Yonder Mountain String Band, “Half Moon Rising”
“Progressive bluegrass,” “jamgrass,” or “hippiegrass,” or bluegrass + Colorado = these guys. Is this a mountain song? They’re from Nederland, and there’s a mention of the Great Divide. We say yes. LINK

16. Phish, “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent”
Phish’s song about a mountain climb, usually lasts between five and 20 minutes when they play it at a show and is part of a larger Phish mythology/storyline, which I don’t know anything about, but Phish fans can tell you. LINK

17. Alabama, “Mountain Music”
An absolute anthem of the South. LINK

Photo by Shutterstock

Brendan Leonard is a contributing editor to Adventure Journal. Follow him at his blog, Semi-Rad.
Showing 45 comments
  • Casey
    Reply

    Dude, check out the Brandi Carlile/Emmylou Harris version of TMHCR on the new John Denver tribute album. Don’t know if it’s better then Toots, but it’s good.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEf5zGeE7xU

    • Gabe
      Reply

      That whole album is OFF THE METER! The Amos Lee rendition of Some Days are Diamonds is great.

  • Ace Kvale
    Reply

    Donovan – “First There is a Mountain”
    The Allman Brothers borrowed the melody and turned it into the iconic jam: “Mountain Jam”
    Then of course how could you forget The Marshall Tucker Band – “Fire on the Mountain”

  • Matt Minich
    Reply

    Awesome list – I would also include Van Zandt’s “Colorado Girl”

  • Logan
    Reply

    “Mountain Sound” by Of Monsters and Men clearly deserves to live on this list. :)

  • Sean
    Reply

    Agreed. Great list. Another would be Van Zandt’s “My Proud Mountains.”

  • Cozy Corzine
    Reply

    Honorable mention??

    The Cult – Aphrodisiac Jacket
    Janes Addiction – Mountain Song
    GD – Mountains of the Moon
    War – Spill the Wine
    Levon – The Mountain

    • Shon
      Reply

      the Electric album is on my ipod

  • Jay Jurkowitsch
    Reply

    What about the Classic European folk song of hiking/climbing: the “Happy Wanderer” – I think Julie Andrews did this in “The Sound of Music”, but the Muppets have a funnier version… check YouTube!!

  • Michael Pearlman
    Reply

    Add String Cheese Incident’s “Windy Mountain” to this list, a great mountain song from a true Colorado mountain band.

    “The snow blows sideways up on windy mountain,
    Blows right on by my door.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TRmAytPc80

  • Andy
    Reply

    What about the sing along, “I love the mountains?” That one is always stuck in my head on brutal skibikehikerun climbs.

  • AJ
    Reply

    Awesome list. Things like this aren’t ever complete, so I’d add to it The Flatlanders, “Keeper of the Mountains.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7P5CZAapmw

  • Trevor
    Reply

    What? No Janes Addiction? Ok, so it seemingly has little to do with mountains, but Mountain Song is a great song.

  • Kyle
    Reply

    Blitzen Trapper “Wild Mountain Nation” should be on there as well

  • Jonny
    Reply

    Spotify that list up!!

  • KT
    Reply

    Landslide…

    • Izabowdasaydat
      Reply

      There it is.

  • Hannah
    Reply

    “Railroad Earth” – by Railroad Earth

  • jake
    Reply

    Janes Addiction — Mountain Song
    Jimi Hendrix — Voodoo Child
    Grateful Dead — Fire on the Mountain
    Pink Floyd — Fearless

  • Daniel
    Reply

    Check out Takenobu’s “Limbo” song, it’s name doesn’t have “mountain” but it’s a wonderful and upbeat song:
    “Mountains know my name…”

  • Jake
    Reply

    Definitely Elephant Revival’s “Sing to the Mountain”

  • Jeremy
    Reply

    Also Baywood’s “I Can Breathe Again” – no explicit use of the word ‘mountain,’ but it captures the spirit perfectly.

  • Dave
    Reply

    Gotta go with Jake… I was listening and watching this as I read your list about mountain songs.

    Fire On The Mountain, Grateful Dead Live.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNxsL9G9r6g

  • Kevin
    Reply

    Done…

  • ADKinLA
    Reply

    I would also like to throw my hat into the ring for The Mountains of Nuevo Leon by Paul Eason. Check it out!

  • RSN
    Reply

    Gotta throw out the Ozark Mountain Daredevils – Colorado Song…

    http://youtu.be/9USx1Dpoj-8

  • Dan
    Reply

    Beatles, “Fool on the Hill”. One of the songs that went through my head climbing Mt. Russell many years ago.

  • Marco
    Reply

    How about
    Blues Traveler “the mountains win again”

    I guess I’m the only person that has lost to nature.

  • Marco
    Reply

    Blues Traveler “the mountains win again”

    Man vs Nature

    Who wins?

  • mims
    Reply

    Modest Mouse “Blame it on the Tetons” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1UzPkkuOtU
    Dolorean “These slopes give me hope” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSK3TmKTrF4

  • Andre Shoumatoff
    Reply

    Missing 1 serious contribution to Colorado mountain songs

    C.W. McCall, father of the “trucker” pop movement in the 70’s. Eventually was the mayor of

    Black Bear Road
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzWyZ-jM9Is

    Another good one… Wolf Creek Pass in big loaded up with Chickens…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6LzWZYWpOU

    then there’s about 10 more that are good but a little harder to listen to…v

  • Erik S
    Reply

    And perhaps these forgotten gems….the lyrics of these songs are incredible.

    Iron & Wine–“Upward over the mountain”
    Billy Bragg and Wilco “Remember the mountain bed”
    Midlake “Small Mountain”
    Patty Griffin “Up to the Mountain (MLK song)”
    Steve Earle and Del McCoury Band-“The Mountain”
    Midnight Oil “King of the Mountain”

  • Lew
    Reply

    I have a few more good ones, some were mentioned already, but here goes:

    Fire on the Mountain – Grateful Dead
    Fire on the Mountain – Marshall Tucker Band – completely different song from the Dead version
    The Mountains Win Again – Blues Traveler
    Black Mountain Side – Led Zeppelin – nice instrumental
    King of the Mountain – Midnight Oil
    Queen of the Mountain – Burning Spear
    Man on the Silver Mountain – Ritchie Blackmore
    Mountain Jam – Allman Brothers
    Wild Mountain Honey – Steve Miller Band
    Snake Mountain Blues – Townes Van Zandt

  • Jill
    Reply

    Blues Travelers~ The Mountains Win Again

  • Randy Waltrip
    Reply

    Just because a song has the word “mountain” in the title doesn’t make it a mountain song. Songs like Rita Cantu’s “High Country” and Denver’s “Dancing With The Mountains” are closer to the mark.

  • Larry Vanderlinden
    Reply

    “Go Down Easy” by Dan Fogelberg on his High Country Snows album keeps my mind in the mountains whenever I hear it. Didn’t hurt that the music video of the song included telemark skiing…..

  • Larry Vanderlinden
    Reply

    “Mountain Pass” off the same High Country Snows album by Dan Fogelberg is right up there too in my book for keeping my mind in the mountains….

  • Lynn
    Reply

    Think it’s called HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING by Led Zepplin! “Come from the land of the ice and snow where the midnight sun and the hard winds blow…”

  • Erik
    Reply

    Check out The Johnson Party’s “Into The Wild”. Not strictly about mountains, but getting out to where your cell phone doesn’t work.

  • Chris Pomeroy
    Reply

    That Zeppelin cut is called “Immigrant Song.” Check out Gorrilaz “Fire Coming out of the Monkey’s Head,” a great, weird song about a mountain (sort of).

  • Mark William Wales
    Reply

    Here’s a mixtape I made of songs about Mountains on Spotify:

    http://open.spotify.com/user/markida/playlist/68gIw2qTjwxji0WzsdheV6

    Be sure to check out some of my others, including a Desert Road Songs mixtape, a Hillbilly inspired one and others!

    Enjoy!

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