Alterac Mountains is the location of the former nation of Alterac and the city-state of Dalaran, and its chief settlements included the City of Alterac, Dalaran and Strahnbrad. The central mountains have been overrun by ogres, while the organization called the Syndicate controls Strahnbrad and other areas. Dalaran was enclosed within an impregnable magic shell before the city was lifted in the air and moved to Northrend. A high, wooded region, the Alterac Mountains see much rainfall and its skies are constantly overcast. Crushridge ogres and the Syndicate, a wicked group of rogues led by fallen human nobles, clash repeatedly for control of this land.
Alterac Mountains is fairly unique in World of Warcraft as it is one of only two zones (Deadwind Pass being the other) that does not have a flight path. However in Cataclysm, the Horde gained a flight path at Strahnbrad.
The Alterac Mountains have traditionally been a home for the humans of Dalaran and Alterac, members of the Alliance. Once the smallest nation in the Lordaeron Alliance, Alterac’s ruler, Lord Perenolde, betrayed the Alliance in the Second War. Alterac's honor has been blemished ever since. The rogue faction known as the Syndicate struggles to regain control of a wild land, while ruins dot the mountainsides and ogres patrol their territory.
The three settlements were all bases of peaceful activity, and were in the beginning at peace with each other. Then, during the second war, Alterac betrayed the Alliance and sided with the Horde. Enraged, the Alliance exiled the lord of Alterac and destroyed his capital, sending its people fleeing in all directions. Some of these people nurtured a hatred for the Alliance and formed a new band of rogues and assassins dedicated to overthrowing the other human nations and reclaiming their home. They call themselves the Syndicate.
The ruins of the city of Alterac has since been claimed by a tribe of ogres, and the majestic city of Dalaran was annihilated by the demon lord Archimonde during the third war. The Dalaran mages warred against the Forsaken while they rebuilt their city, only to move the city to Northrend via powerful magic. What little Alliance activity is left in the region is centered around Dalaran Crater and the entrances to Alterac Valley, where the Stormpike and Frostwolf factions vie for supremacy.
The Alterac Mountains are high peaks rising up north of the Hillsbrad Foothills, and spreading to the border of the Western Plaguelands in the north and The Hinterlands in the east. Covered with snow at their highest point, these mountains were once the location of three major human settlements. Now two of these settlements, the City of Alterac and Strahnbrad, lie in ruins and are controlled by hostile forces. What remains of the third settlement, the city of Dalaran, is now a crater. The mountains themselves are home to several kinds of high-altitude flora and fauna, such as yeti, mountain lions and the rare herb Wintersbite.
There are no flight paths, dungeons or raid dungeons in the Alterac Mountains. However, the Alterac Valley, a high level PvP battleground, lies within these mountains. In addition, the Ruins of Alterac are home to many ogres.
The layout of the Alterac Mountains zone may be confusing. It is effectively divided into two subregions. Apart from the mountain pass leading to Chillwind Point in the Western Plaguelands at the north, the "outer" green zone encircling the actual mountains has no clear-cut borders, instead smoothly transiting into Silverpine Forest and Hillsbrad Foothills. It is the outer zone that contains Dalaran (or, in WotLK, the place where it stood), Chillwind Point, the Uplands, and the southern coast of Lordamere Lake.
The "inner" zone, containing the Ruins of Alterac and Strahnbrad, looks very different. It is a snowy highland region surrounded by mountains, sharply transiting into the outer zone outside Stratholme. A traveler entering the inner area by road from Hillsbrad Foothills may mistake it for the entire Alterac Mountains zone, making it seem much smaller than it actually is.
Both Alliance and Horde quests in the Alterac Mountains begin in the low 30s and continue into the low 40s. The quests, for the most part, come from Southshore and Tarren Mill, respectively, in the Hillsbrad Foothills which border the mountains. For some reason, most of the Horde's Alterac Mountains quests are categorized as Hillsbrad Foothills, though the Alliance quests seem to be more properly categorized. Alterac is unique in the game in having no proper quest hub for either faction. For this reason, many of the quests obtained in Hillsbrad Foothills send players north into Alterac.
Alliance: From Southshore in the Hillsbrad Foothills, follow the road north out of the town, and then turn east at the junction. Follow the road east until just past a tower, where the road splits again. Take the north fork and continue straight past the next crossroads. When the terrain rises up beneath, you'll have reached Alterac.
Horde: From Tarren Mill in the Hillsbrad Foothills, follow the road west out of the town, and then turn north at the junction. Follow the road north for a short while. Or start in Silverpine or the Undercity and swim southeast through Lordamere Lake.