Is there a good resource for quickly identifying peaks that are visible on the summit of a north-american peak?

Currently I use a topographical map and painstakingly identify each individual peak. I was hoping someone knew about a resource where there is a panoramic picture taken from the summit with all named peaks identified.

If this question is too broad, I especially care about the Sierra Nevada.

  • I don't know of any peak-finder, especially one you can take into the backcountry with you. However, I don't see why using a topo map needs to be "painstaking". I have used them often for this purpose and never considered it particularly difficult or burdensome. Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 23:11
  • question - if there was a product like Google Image Search that could identify peaks, is it something you could rely on when you're in the backcountry, without a reliable wireless data connection, or the ability to recharge a device?
    – DavidR
    Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 14:09
  • @DavidR, printed (and possibly laminated) material answers your question. Of course, this should be prepared in advance (but planning your backcountry trip in advance is always a good idea).
    – Steed
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 6:00
  • @OlinLathrop: Using a topo is fine when trying to figure out the names of a hand-full of nearby peaks, but is not a very efficient method for identifying bumps at the horizon (I would have to cary maps for areas I am not hiking in,) or for tagging the names of peaks visible in pictures taken from the top.
    – DudeOnRock
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 1:33

3 Answers 3


Maybe you will find the PeakFinder applications for iOS helpful. There is another app that works with augmented reality. Check peaks-app.ch. Let us now if one of the apps helped. I recently used the SwissPeaks application and found it helpful. But without internet connection you're lost.


Identifying peaks using a topo map may be difficult, because you need to reconstruct the 3D landscape in your head and decide which mountains are hidden behind others.

So you can fly to the top of your mountain in Google Earth and adjust the tilt to see the panoramic view. This way you get a view, which is very similar to what you'll see in person. Than (or before) you can just identify all visible peaks by using Google Earth labels or a topo map (FYI, if your topo is accurate, you can stretch it over the GE landscape and see it in 3D this way).

Also, sometimes you can find Panoramio photos with labels, or they might just be named like "view of peak X from peak Y".

The next option is to try to find alpinist trip reports, which often have labeled photos. Report sources are usually country-specific, but there are some worldwide catalogues like summit.org.

  • Google earth is a great idea for this. Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 17:27

One approach is to use a GPS device that has a map database and an electronic compass. You can sight on the distant mountain, and the device will draw a line on the map along that bearing. Then you just have to look at the map and see where the line crosses a prominent mountain.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.