Highpoint Geology was established to promote education, exploration, and stewardship of America’s high places. The fifty U.S. state highpoints are unique places, each with its own geologic story to tell.

On this website you will find information on the geology and physical geography of the highest point of each U.S. state. The information is intended to be useful to a variety of people, from students interested in the geology of a particular state or region, to natural history enthusiasts, to hikers and climbers who want to know the geologic stories behind the landscapes they find themselves in.

The geology and physical geography of the United States is amazingly diverse, and the state highpoints reflect that diversity. From Florida’s Britton Hill at a modest 345 feet (105 m) above sea level to Alaska’s Denali, at 20,310 feet (6,190 m) the highest point in North America, the state highpoints encompass rolling hills, steep escarpments, seemingly flat plains, glaciated mountains, and volcanic cones. Visiting state highpoints provides an opportunity to experience the results of continental collisions, continental rifting, volcanic eruptions, ground-rupturing earthquakes, and glacial advances and retreats. And the rocks of many of the state highpoints hold clues to understanding how life on Earth has changed over its history of four-and-a-half billion years.

Although one can learn a lot about geology through written descriptions and photographs, geology really needs to be experienced where it happens—outside!—to be fully appreciated. One of the attractions of the science of geology, for professionals and amateurs alike, is the opportunity for travel and exploration. Highpoint Geology will be a success if it inspires people to visit the highpoint of their own state, make a trip to visit the highpoint of a neighboring state, and at least think about traveling to a part of the country they might never have considered traveling to before.

Some of the fifty state highpoints are easily accessible, frequently visited sites close to large population centers. Others are remote sites in fragile alpine environments that are visited by relatively few people. Many highpoints are on public lands, but some are on private lands and can only be visited under guidelines established by the property owners. Wherever the location, Highpoint Geology encourages visitors to demonstrate responsible stewardship to ensure access and enjoyment by future visitors for generations to come.

Happy trails, and rock on!


Mike nearing the summit of Granite Peak, Montana. Photo courtesy Loren Tomasi.

Mike nearing the summit of Granite Peak, Montana. Photo courtesy Loren Tomasi.


Michael D. Hylland, Highpoint Geology Founder

Michael Hylland founded Highpoint Geology as an outgrowth of a lifelong passion for high places. A native of Washington State, Mike was introduced to hiking and skiing in the Cascade Range at an early age by his father, Ron. In the four-plus decades since, Mike has climbed over 70 peaks, mostly in the western U.S., including 16 state highpoints (as of 2016). He climbed his first state highpoint, Mount Rainier, in 1977 at the age of 16.

Mike’s geologic studies began with a Physical Geology course taken to fulfill a general science credit requirement at Pacific Lutheran University in 1980. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology from Western Washington University, and a Master’s Degree in Geology from Oregon State University that involved geologic mapping in the Himalayan foothills of northern Pakistan. After working as a geologist for the U.S. Forest Service and as a geotechnical consultant for GeoEngineers, Inc. in the Seattle area, Mike began his career with the Utah Geological Survey in 1994. His work has largely been in the field of geologic hazards, and his most recent research has focused on earthquakes and active faults. Mike has authored and co-authored over 90 scientific papers, maps, articles, and abstracts. Additionally, Mike has taught geology courses for Salt Lake Community College and University of Utah Lifelong Learning.

Mike currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah. When not peak bagging, Mike enjoys backpacking, mountain biking, alpine and backcountry skiing, landscape photography, music, and spending time with his family.



Mike’s Highpoint Time Line

No. Highpoint State Route Year
1 Mt Rainier WA Ingraham Glacier (direct) 1977 Washington_Mt Rainier_summit
Ingraham Glacier – Disappointment Cleaver 1982
Ingraham Glacier – Disappointment Cleaver 1991
Emmons/Winthrop Glaciers 1992
2 Mt Hood OR Mazama Couloir 1989
South Side 1991 Oregon_Mt Hood_summit
Mazama Couloir 1992
South Side 1993
3 Kings Pk UT North Ridge 1997
North Ridge 2006
North Ridge (winter) 2014 Utah_Kings Peak_summit_winter
4 Borah Pk ID Southwest Ridge 2008 Idaho_Borah Peak_summit
5 Gannett Pk WY Gooseneck Route 2009 Wyoming_Gannet Peak_summit
6 Granite Pk MT Southwest Couloir 2010 Montana_Granite Peak_summit
7 Woodall Mt MS 2011 Mississippi_Woodall Mtn_summit
8 Mt Whitney CA East Buttress 2011 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
9 Boundary Pk NV East Ridge 2011 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
10 Humphreys Pk AZ Humphreys Peak Trail 2013 Arizona_Humphreys Peak_summit
11 Wheeler Pk NM Bull-of-the-Woods Trail (North Ridge) 2013 New Mexico_Wheeler Peak_summit
12 Denali AK West Buttress 2014 Alaska_Denali_summit_small
13 Mt Elbert CO South Mt Elbert Trail 2015 DCIM100GOPRO