The National Parks and Monuments of the United States of America reflect how blessed the U.S. is with a trove of natural beauty. America also has a long history of preserving lands for public use. In 1872, Yellowstone was set aside as the world’s first true national park, establishing two million acres of land I Montana and Wyoming to be “dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” The Antiquities Act of 1906, signed by Theodore Roosevelt, grew out of a movement to protect prehistoric cliff dwellings and pueblo ruins in the Southwest. It allowed for the creation of National Monuments by presidential decree.
The mountains are calling and I must go – John Muir
Since those early days, hundreds of sites have been added to the National Park System. We now have 59 National parks. In addition to National Parks and Monuments, there are other designations such as National Historic Sites, National Seashores and Rivers. All are designed for a balance of preservation and accessibility. The total land under some form of protection is nearly 500,000 square miles, or 14 percent of the United States. This is one-tenth of all the protected land in the whole world.
If you haven’t spent much time in the US national parks, then you are missing out. Plan a trip to see a few of them and you won’t be disappointed. I have had the pleasure of visiting most of the sites, many more than a few times. Below are the ones I’ve visited and had time to write about. Simply click on each picture to go to a detailed article about each.
To see more places to travel in the United States, go here.