Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.
America is home to some beautiful sights and landscapes, and the country’s National Monuments are no exception. From stunning red rock canyons to towering sequoia trees and snow-capped mountains, the US has one of the most diverse ranges of natural wonders.
With 130 National Monuments spread out over the country, where do you even begin? Well, these 13 jaw-dropping choices are a good place to start.
Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota is Mount Rushmore—one of America’s most iconic symbols. Standing as a testament to the contributions four presidents made to America, Mount Rushmore, which is carved into the granite face of the mountain, is a sight not to be missed.
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln stand tall on the mountain as a reminder of their leadership and the incredible mark they left on America’s history. And although the colossal sculpture is the main attraction at Mount Rushmore, there are hiking trails that take you through the surrounding natural beauty to see some of the memorial’s most popular viewpoints.
Devil’s Tower in northeastern Wyoming is an awe-inspiring geological formation that rises abruptly from its surrounding landscape. The monolithic butte that reaches a height of 867 feet is composed of igneous rock and features vertical columns, which form a mesmerizing pattern.
Understandably, Devil’s Tower has captivated visitors for centuries while holding a great cultural and spiritual significance for Native American tribes who see the rock as a sacred site.
With hiking trails, climbing opportunities, and an abundance of wildlife, Devil’s Tower is a natural—and almost unbelievable—wonder.
Muir Woods National Monument
Have you ever wanted to walk amongst giants? Because in the Muir Woods National Monument, your dreams will come true.
The Muir Woods National Monument, just north of San Francisco, California, is home to the world’s tallest trees, which can reach heights of up to 250 feet. The coastal redwoods, which have been in the National Monument for centuries, create a majestic canopy with rays of sunlight filtering through onto the forest floor.
Thanks to the monument and its conservation efforts, the trees have been preserved and protected in a way that still allows the public to marvel over the incredible forest and the wildlife that calls it home.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spanning over 1.9 million acres in southern Utah is the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is a geological masterpiece worthy of a visit. Characterized by its rugged canyons, towering cliffs, and magnificent rock formations, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
In the monument, you’ll come across staircase-like rock layers that reveal and showcase millions of years of the Earth’s history as well as slot canyons and rivers with a rich biodiversity of animal and plant life. Acting as a sanctuary for endangered species like the California condor, the monument is a vital habitat for its resident wildlife while also delivering immense scientific value with insights into our planet’s past.
Mount St. Helens Volcanic National Monument
In 1980, Mount St.Helens erupted, killing 57 people who were in close proximity to the crater and destroying the nearby forests. However, in recent years, nature has made a comeback, and resilient plant life has emerged throughout the Mount St. Helens Volcanic National Monument, restoring the ecosystem that was lost over 40 years ago.
Located in the state of Washington, the Mount St. Helens Volcanic National Monument has panoramic vistas, mountain views, and hiking trails that take you through the monument revealing sights of the park’s altered landscape.
Dinosaur National Monument
Nestled between Utah and Colorado is the Dinosaur National Monument, with rich paleontological treasures and unforgettable landscapes. Encompassing an expansive area of rugged canyons, the Green and Yampa Rivers, and dramatic cliffs, the Dinosaur National Monument is a must-visit for adventurers, hikers, and dinosaur lovers.
Down in the Dinosaur Quarry Exhibit Hall, visitors to the monument can witness hundreds of dinosaur bones and fossils, which provide a glimpse into the prehistoric world.
Whether you enjoy hiking, camping, or river rafting, the Dinosaur National Monument bridges the gap between the past and present, getting you out in the great outdoors and walking the same paths that 92-foot dinosaurs once did.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Continuing on with giants, the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is home to a different kind of giant. One with spikes that can grow up to 8 meters tall—the Stenocereus thurberi
The remarkable desert landscape inside the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is the perfect habitat for one of the world’s largest cactus species as well as a diverse range of animal species and other plant life that have managed to thrive in unfavorable conditions.
With 330,000 acres of land and, of course, the unique organ pipe cacti, the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is a magnificent destination for those who enjoy hiking and unparalleled landscapes.
Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument
Everyone has heard of the Grand Canyon National Park, but the lesser-known Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument offers sights that are equally as beautiful. The protected piece of land in northern Arizona encompasses over one million acres of rugged wilderness that extends from the Grand Canyon itself.
Showcasing breathtaking panoramic views of towering cliffs, deep gorges, and sprawling canyons, the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument is home to a wide array of plant and animal species—some of which are rare and endangered.
Whether you prefer hiking solo or heading out on a guided tour, immersing yourself in the beauty of the National Monument and its dramatic scenery is like no other and an adventure that no one should miss.
Colorado National Monument
In western Colorado lies the Colorado National Monument—a breathtaking natural wonder with canyons, rock formations, and awe-inspiring vistas. The monument’s red sandstone cliffs, which have been sculpted over millions of years, create a dramatic backdrop for visitors working their way down hiking trails and the area’s scenic roads.
With popular and iconic monoliths like Independence Monument and Kissing Couple and winding roads that take you along the canyon’s rim, the Colorado National Monument is a place for explorers who enjoy a sense of tranquility.
Natural Bridges National Monument
Some of the coolest rock formations in the country can be seen at the Natural Bridges National Monument in southeastern Utah. Renowned for its natural bridges, which have formed over millions of years by erosive wind and water, the Natural Bridges National Monument, with its three main bridges—Sipapu, Kachina, and Owachomo—stands out as an example of nature’s artistry.
With each bridge having its own unique patterns and surfaces, no two areas of the National Monument are the same, leaving you with an incredible appreciation for the power and beauty of the Earth’s geological processes.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
In the deserts of northern New Mexico are striking towering cone-shaped rock formations, which have given the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument its name. Resembling tents rising dramatically from the earth, the volcanic ash and pumice formations—which have been sculpted from millions of years of volcanic eruptions and erosion—are one of the most remarkable sights in the whole of New Mexico, and definitely not one to be missed.
With beautiful hiking experiences through winding trails and narrow slot canyons, and spectacular vistas that you won’t even believe are real, the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is an example of a geological wonder and an ideal outdoor adventure for those in search of something different.
Gold Butte National Monument
The culturally significant landscape in the Gold Butte National Monument has enticed visitors with a love of human history for centuries. Spanning over 300,000 acres, the National Monument and its majestic landscape feature petroglyphs and artifacts that reveal a deep connection between indigenous cultures and the land they once called home.
And if learning about the history of those who came before us wasn’t enough, the Gold Butte National Monument will also satisfy hikers, explorers, and wildlife lovers with its striking red sandstone cliffs and the vibrant flora and fauna spread throughout the monument.
Newberry Volcanic National Monument
The captivating monument that is the Newberry Volcanic National Monument is nestled in the heart of central Oregon and sprawls for over 54,000 acres. With a diverse landscape shaped by ancient volcanic activity and the 17-mile Newberry Caldera volcanic crater, the Newberry Volcanic National Monument almost makes you feel like you’re on another planet.
Towering volcanic peaks, lava flows, lava tubes, and cinder stones can be found all over the monument, which inevitably draws in hikers, campers, and wildlife watchers.
Deck the Stalls: A Guide to the World’s Best Christmas Markets
Step into a winter wonderland as we journey around the globe in search of the most enchanting Christmas markets. From Vienna’s grandeur beneath the Rathaus to Bath’s cozy charm adorned with over 200 wooden chalets and even Vancouver’s North American slice of European tradition, our guide is tailor-made for travel enthusiasts eager to explore this festive season.
Flying Cheap? Beware of These Hidden Costs
While we appreciate a good deal, it’s essential to remember that the cheapest air travel option isn’t necessarily the most economical. Budget airlines may entice you with low initial fares, but hidden fees can escalate your costs significantly. To keep you informed and prepared, we’ve gathered a list of these concealed expenses. Be cautious, as the last one on our list is an absurd method to drain your wallet.