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7 Monumental Places to Visit

In 1906, the U.S. Congress passed the Antiquities Act which gave the President of the United States the power to protect “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures and other objects of historic or scientific interest” by designating them as national monuments. Since that time, 122 of these national treasures have been named national monuments. Here is a sampling of them.

 

Giant Sequoia National Monument | Porterville, California sequoia

Known as “nature’s skyscrapers,” Giant Sequoias can measure over 250 feet tall, span 30 feet in diameter and live to be more than 3,000 years old. Giant Sequoia National Monument is home to 33 groves of these magnificent trees and is divided into two sections that are separated by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The monument also includes mountain meadows, limestone caverns, granite domes and spires, plunging gorges, archaeological sites and a diverse array of plants and wildlife.

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Montezuma Castle National Monument | Camp Verde, Arizona Montezuma

You’ve probably never seen a high-rise apartment that looked quite like this. The 20-room Montezuma Castle, which overlooks Beaver Creek, is one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in North America. It is estimated that it was built by the Sinagua Indian people between the years 1100 and 1425 AD. A museum located onsite includes exhibits and artifacts depicting the lifestyle, history and culture of the ancient people who built Montezuma Castle and lived in this riparian oasis for over 400 years.

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Bandelier National Monument | Los Alamos, New Mexico Bandelier

This national monument was designated to protect over 33,000 acres of ruggedly beautiful canyon lands and mesas. It also includes petroglyphs and dwellings created by Ancestral Pueblo (Anasazi) people whose history in the area dates back over 10,000 years. Bandelier National Monument hosts annual events such as the Opera On The Rocks concert which will take place on September 24th this year, and the Fall Fiesta on October 8th which will feature arts and crafts, raptor demonstrations and Pueblo dancers.

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Canyons of the Ancients National Monument | Dolores, Colorado

Located in southwestern Colorado, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument contains more than 6,000 archaeological sites representing Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) and other Native American cultures. Most of the Monument is open for exploration on foot, and park management recommends that visitors stop first at the Anasazi Heritage Center to learn more about the Monument and the Anasazi and other Native cultures of the Four Corners region and to view the Center’s special exhibits.

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Castillo de San Marcos National Monument | St. Augustine, Floridacastillo

The Castillo de San Marcos, built in the 17th century, is the oldest masonry fortress in the U.S. It is a prime example of what is known as the “bastion system” of fortification, a star-shaped design that originated in Italy in the 15th century. It is one of only two fortifications in the world built out of a form of limestone known as coquina that is made of ancient shells. Although this type of limestone is soft and porous, the walls of the fortress are so thick that cannon balls fired at them would simply get embedded rather than making their way through.

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Fort McHenry National Monument | Baltimore, Maryland

This is the very fort that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem, the immortal “Star-Spangled Banner.” The Monument includes a Visitor Center with an educational video and exhibits, and, weather permitting, visitors can participate in one of the flag change programs that are presented twice a day when a ranger raises/lowers a reproduction of the Star-Spangled Banner flag.

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George Washington Birthplace National Monument | Colonial Beach, Virginia

While many people naturally think of Mount Vernon as being George Washington’s home, this location in the heart of the Northern Neck of Virginia is where he was born and lived until he was three-and-a-half years old. The original home burned down in 1779, but a memorial house was built on the site in 1930 and the Monument offers a glimpse into what plantation life was like in the 18th century. Tours of the home and grounds are offered, and the colonial garden next to the home contains plants, herbs and flowers that would have been used in Washington’s time.

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