US national monuments are pretty much scattered around the county and visiting them makes for a great history class for your kids as well as yourself. If you are considering a vacation or a road trip in the near future, it might help to have an idea of what historical landmarks you can visit to tour the thrilling and vibrant history of the United States of America. Here is a list of 30 of the best monuments to visit in the United States. These are not the only monuments that you can visit, but this list covers a great deal of history and culture so that visitors can get a better understanding of what the world was like before their time.
1. Admiralty Island National Monument
Located in Southeast Alaska, this 955,747 acres of wilderness is managed and cared for by the National Park Service. It was declared a national monument on December 1, 1978.
The land is considered sacred to the Angoon Tribe of Tlingit People, who live on the western coast of the island. With more brown bears than all of the lower 48 states combined, Admiralty Island is full of wild and natural beauty, and may be one of the last true wildernesses. This tops our list of national monuments.
2. African Burial Ground National Monument
Found in Lower Manhattan, New York City, the African Burial Ground is the final resting place of 419 African Americans buried in the 17th and 18th centuries. This monument was just a part of the largest colonial era African American burial site, and it is estimated that as many as 10,000 to 20,000 African Americans, both free and enslaved at the time of their deaths, were buried here. This sacred site was one of America’s earliest African American cemeteries. No way this won’t make our list of US national monuments.
3. Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Found near Harrison, Nebraska, this may look like just a lovely valley, but just beneath the surface there are many well-preserved Miocene fossils. We’re proud to have this as a united states monument.
Some of the fossils that have been discovered there include the daeodon, menoceras, moropus, and many other fascinating mammals from long ago.
4. Bandelier National Monument
Making up around 50 square miles of the Pajarito Plateau in New Mexico, this monument preserves the ancestral home of the Puebloans people. Many of the structures found here date back to as early as 1150 to 1600 AD. President Woodrow Wilson designated the land as a national monument on February 11, 1916. It was named after Adolph Bandelier, the anthropologist that studied the area and supported its preservation and is a considered a special national monument.
5. Basin and Range National Monument
Spanning 704,000 acres, Basin and Range National Monument was made a national monument by President Barack Obama in 2015. The area contains several features, including Garden Valley and Coal Valley. If we could draw a national monument map, we will highlight this top United States monument on our map due to it’s uniqueness.
There can also be found Native American rock-art that could be as much as 4,000 years old. Found in southeastern Nevada, this national monument has been described as “one of the emptiest spaces in a state famous for its emptiness.”
6. Booker T. Washington National Monument
Booker T. Washington was born into slavery on April 5, 1856. He was born on a 207 acre tobacco farm in Virginia. He went on to become an educator, a leader to the African American community, and an advisor to multiple presidents. The Booker T. Washington Monument preserves portions of the farm he was born on in honor of his achievements. The site was designated a national monument on April 2, 1956 and if you are in that area and looking for a national monument near me to visit, this would be one to top your list of National Monuments.
7. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
The Battle of Little Bighorn took place on June 25 and 26 of 1876. The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument commemorates the location of the important battle, also known as Custer’s Last Stand. This battle was between an alliance of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes versus the 7th Cavalry Regiment.
A Marble Obelisk was placed as a marker, and the places where many U.S. soldiers and Native Americans fell are also marked. This national monument is particularly important for remembering the past, in hopes that we will not repeat the mistakes, and that we will be inspired by the courage of those that fell in this place. This is a proud American monument and one that people should plan to see especially when looking into visiting federal monuments or just looking through a list of monuments by state – add this on your list!
8. Canyon de Chelly National Monument
The Canyon de Chelly, located in Arizona, is considered to be one of the longest continuously inhabited places in the entire United States, and many structures built by native inhabitants are protected in this national monument. The Canyon de Chelly National Monument was established on April 1, 1931. Multiple Native American tribes have called the Canyon de Chelly home in the past, to include the Navajo and the Puenloans. This is a historic monument and one that belongs on our list of top USA national monuments.
9. Mount Rushmore National Monument
In the Black Hills in Keystone, North Dakota can be found one of the most famous of all National Monument, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Carved into the rock are the faces of President George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and President Abraham Lincoln.
The work was done from 1927 to 1941, and was overseen by sculptor Gutzon Borglum. Symbolizing “the triumph of modern society and democracy”, Mount Rushmore is viewed by over 2 million visitors per year and we daresay it’s one of the most popular US national monument we have.
10. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
Found on the shore of Matanzas Bay in the city of Augustine, Florida, Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the entire United States. Construction of the fort began in 1672, and was completed in 1695. The fort was built while Florida was still part of the Spanish Empire, so it is a singular structure – a national monument – full of rich and interesting history.
11. George Washington Carver National Monument
This was the first national monument dedicated to an African American, as well as the first dedicated to a non-president. It was founded on July 14, 1943 by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Roosevelt dedicated $30,000 to the monument, and it preserves Carver’s boyhood home in Missouri, as well as the home of Moses Carver, and the Carver Cemetery. This US national monument covers roughly 240 acres and attracts over 40,000 visitors per year.
12. Craters of the Moon
Found in Snake River Plain in Idaho, Craters of the Moon National USA Monument includes three major lava fields that altogether span about 400 square miles. It was established as a national monument on May 2, 1924, and the protected area was greatly expanded by President Bill Clinton in November, 2000.
13. Devils Postpile National Monument
Made mostly of columnar basalt, this strange rock formation spans about 798 acres in eastern California. Devil’s Postpile National Monument was once proposed as a spot to build a hydroelectric dam which would have meant blasting the whole formation into the river.
In order to stop this, many Californians pulled together and convinced President Howard Taft to make the site a national monument in 1911. This US national monument fit our list of national monuments that people should have on their bucket lists.
14. Dinosaur National Monument
This important monument contains over 800 paleontological sites, and has fossils from a wide variety of dinosaurs, hence the name. The monument is found on the border between Utah and Colorado. Dinosaur, Colorado and Verhal, Utah are the nearest towns. The site was made a United states national monument on October 4, 1915. This site is a great place to visit if you want to get a picture of the distant past.
15. Effigy Mounds National Monument
Preserving more than 200 mounds created by Native Americans in prehistoric times, Effigy Mounds was made a national monument on October 25. 1949.
Many of the mounds take the shape of various animals like birds and bears, which is why they are called effigies. This USA national monument is found in Allamakee County, Iowa. If you are curious about the prehistoric lives of Native Americans, this site will allow you to see what they created with their own hands.
16. Fort Frederica National Monument
Found on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, this national monument preserves the remains of a town built between 1736 and 1748. The town was built as a means of defending the southern border of the British colony of Georgia from Spanish raiders. The town was named after the son of King George II, Prince Frederick. It was made a US national monument on May 26, 1936. This is a site full of rich history, so visitors will get a fascinating view of the past.
17. Fort Matanzas National Monument
Fort Matanzas was built in 1742, and was made a US national monument on October 15, 1924. The fort was built to protect the Matanzas Inlet, which could be used as a rear entrance to the city of St. Augustine, Florida.
The U.S. Department of War restored the badly deteriorated fort in 1916, and then went on to transfer it over to the National Park Service as soon as the restoration was complete. There is a visitor center on Anastasia Island, which is only a short five-minute boat ride away from the fort.
18. Fort Ord National Monument
Built in 1917, Fort Ord was a United States Army base until it was closed in 1994. Located on Monterey Bay in California, a small portion of the base is still used for active duty army units today. Much of the fort is taken up by abandoned buildings, although many of these structures are scheduled for demolition to make room for new construction. The fort was named in honor of Union Army Maj. Gen. Edward Otho Cresap Ord, and was made a national monument on April 20, 2012 by President Barack Obama. This American national monument should be on your list of national monuments to visit.
19. Fossil Butte National Monument
Located west of Kemmerer, Wyoming, Fossil Butte National Monument is the location of an assemblage of Eocene Epoch animal and plant fossils. These fossils are associated with Fossil Lake, which is the smallest of three great lakes that were once found in the places we now call Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.
Fossil Butte was made a US national monument on October 23, 1972. The visitor center features dozens of fascinating fossils and casts so visitors can get a first-hand look at the amazing discoveries made at this site.
20. George Washington Birthplace National Monument
Found in Westmoreland, Virginia, the birthplace of the first American President, George Washington, was made a USA national monument on January 23, 1930. George Washington was born in the house, which was located on a colonial-age tobacco farm at the time, on February 22, 1782. He lived there until the age of three, then returned as a teenager to live there again. The original house was lost to a fire, but a replica and memorial house was built in its place. Visitors can tour the home during regular hours.
21. Aniakchak National Monument
Due to the remote location in Alaska, and unpredictable weather, this 601,294 acres is one of the least visited national monuments. This area, which contains the Aniakchak Volcano, was proclaimed a national monument on December 1, 1978. The national monument itself actually only covers about 137,176 acres, but the rest was declared a national reserve on December 2, 1980.
The reserve is made up of 468,118 acres, which combines with the national monument to make up the whole protected land. Although the weather makes visiting this location difficult, it is worthwhile for anyone that can make the trip, as the remote location also allows for breathtaking natural scenery and wildlife, and the area has a rich and interesting history. This makes it on our list of beautiful national monuments.
22. Washington Monument
This 555 foot obelisk is found on the National Mall in Washington DC. This popular American monument was built to commemorate the first American president, George Washington. Although construction began in 1848, it was halted for a period of 23 years due to insufficient funds and the Civil War. It was fully completed in 1888. Visitors can see the difference in the shading of the stone about 150 feet up, so the place where construction was halted is obvious. The Washington Monument gets well over 600,000 visitors each year.
23. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument covers 583,000 square miles of ocean waters, which includes ten islands and atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
The original 140,000 square mile monument was created in June 2006, but was expanded in August 2016. After the expansion, it became the world’s largest protected area. We love this place and it has a list on our top 10 US national monuments. We also think it should make your bucket list if you are planning on visiting monuments near me, if you are in Hawaii.
24. Pipestone National Monument
Pipestone, also called catlinite, is a type of stone used by Native Americans to create pipes that were very important to certain ceremonial and religious practices. The Pipestone National Monument was created on August 25, 1937 and restored quarrying right back to Native Americans so they could have access to the important stone. The three-quarter mile trail features lovely and interesting views of the pipestone quarries, as well as other natural landmarks like a waterfall. This is one US monument you want to visit when possible.
25. Oregon Caves National Monument
Found in the northern Siskiyou Mountains of southwestern Oregon, the Oregon Caves National Monument is a protected area that includes the marble cave discovered by Elijah Davidson in 1874.
While most caves are formed from dissolved limestone or dolomite, Oregon caves are particularly special because they are formed from marble. The Oregon Caves National Monument sees as much as 80,000 visitors per year making it one of the more popular yet hidden US monuments.
26. Michigan Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument
This Civil War monument is found in Downtown Detroit, Michigan. This national US monument was unveiled on April 9, 1872. Several prominent figures were in attendance at the unveiling, including George Armstrong Custer. It was made a national monument on May 31, 1984.
27. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument
This monument, found in San Antonio, Texas, was built to commemorate all the military working dogs, veterinary support, and military branches that made up the Military Working Dog program that was established during World War 2, and is still active today.
Although the monument is located on a secureAir Force installation, a base pass can be requested by visitors, and their dogs, to visit it during the day. This alone makes this one of the coolest us monuments ever.
28. Eads Bridge National Monument
Connecting St. Louis Missouri to East St. Louis Illinois over the Mississippi River, the Eads Bridge is the oldest remaining bridge on the river. Named after its designer, James Buchanan Eads, Eads Bridge was opened in 1874. The bridge is 6,442 feet long, and 88 feet above the water. It was added as a US national monument on January 29, 1964.
29. Little White Schoolhouse National Monument
Although it is not a local history museum, the Little White Schoolhouse was once an actual school, and was an important location in the founding of the Republican Party. It was built in 1853, and added to the list of national monuments on May 30, 1974.
Although the Little White Schoolhouse fell into disuse and was almost demolished at one time, local history enthusiasts managed to save the structure and restore it so it could be preserved as a museum.
30. Black Jack Battlefield National Monument
Designated as a National Monument on October 16, 2012 and added to the list of American monuments, the location of the Battle of Black Jack took place near Baldwin City, Kansas, and was considered one of the factors that led to the Civil War. The battle took place on June 2, 1856, when slavery -abolitionist forces, led by John Brown, attacked the encampment of Henry C. Pate. Several clashes of this kind took place in the area at the time, but this was particularly well-known at the time.
There are well over one hundred national monuments in the United States. The list above is just a hint of the rich and fascinating history there is to experience for anyone that has the will to get out there and see what was left to us by those that came before.