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Auf den Bergen (1) literally means on top of/on some mountains, whereas In den Bergen   (2) is denoting a mountaneous region. Examples: (1) Auf dem Berg gibt es kein Gipfelkreuz. (1) Auf den Berg klettern. (1) Auf diesen Bergen gibt es kaum Bäume. (2) Wir verbringen unseren Urlaub in den Bergen. (2) Ich bin in den Bergen ...


I think what confuses you here is seeing the dative case as simply meaning indirect object. In Proto-Indo-European (PIE, the theoretical language which all European languages evolved from) there were eight cases, including the four which remain in modern German; one of the others was the locative case, used for marking the location where something takes ...


Canoo.net is of help here: Generally with dative in standard German of the southern part of the German-speaking area Frankfurt, as you know, is in the southern part of Germany. But they also note: This use of the dative after wegen is not accepted by everybody. Therefore it is better to avoid it in written standard German.

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