In 2003, the U.N. designated Dec. 11 as International Mountain Day to highlight the importance of sustainable mountain development and conservation.

Sunrise at Mt. Cammerer in the Great Smoky Mountains

Photo: mikerhicks/Flickr

Mount Cammerer, Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

 

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Sunrise at Fitz Roy in Patagonia

Photo: Stuck in Customs/Flickr

Mount Fitz Roy, Patagonia, Argentina

 

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Sunrise over Mt. Rainier and Seattle, Washington

Photo: Dave Morrow/Flickr

Mount Rainier and Seattle, Wash.

 

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Sunrise cloud cap over Mt. St. Helen's in Washington

Photo: telafree/Flickr

Another view of Mount Rainier in Washington state.

 

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Sunrise over Picture Lake near Mt. Baker in Washington

Photo: Dave Morrow/Flickr

Mount Baker, Wash.

 

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Sunrise in the Alps

Photo: Robert Voors/Flickr

European Alps

 

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Sunrise over Mt. Vesuvius in Italy

Photo: Stuck in Customs/Flickr

Mount Vesuvius, Italy

 

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Sunrise over mountains in Wales, U.K.

Photo: midlander1231/Flickr

Wales, England

 

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Hallett's Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado

Photo: 12SonOfLama/Flickr

Hallett Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

 

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Sunrise in Yosemite Valley

Photo: kern.justin/Flickr

Yosemite National Park, California

 

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Sunrise at Mt. Edith Cavell, Jasper National Park in Canada

Photo: Babu Juliet-India-Mike Golf/Flickr

Mount Edith Cavell, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

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Sunrise at Snowdon Mountain in Wales, U.K.

Photo: Eifion/Flickr

Snowdon Mountain, Wales, England

 

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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.

12 breathtaking photos to celebrate International Mountain Day
Constituting one quarter of the Earth's surface, mountains are called home by 12 percent of the human population.