National Monuments are a source of pride for Americans. Many people go to these monuments to see what they represent and admire them for their design. This literary expedition will illustrate each national monument and the best ones to visit at least once in your lifetime.
Before illustrating a list of all US National Monuments, let’s get into the management and history of these federally governed monuments.
Management of National Monuments by Federal Agencies
Eight federal agencies in five departments manage the 129 current U.S. National Monuments. A single agency manages 115 monuments, while 14 are co-managed by two.
One of the NPS’s national monuments, Grand Canyon-Parashant, is not an official unit because it overlaps with Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Management practices vary across agencies and sites according to their missions, the size or type of protected place, and legal authorization. Generally, hunting, fishing, and extraction of resources are prohibited.
National monuments are a source of pride for Americans. Different federal agencies with regulations and procedures manage them. The National Park Service is one such agency, and they manage the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument.
This monument is located on the border of Arizona and Nevada, and it is co-managed by the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The monument is open to hunting, fishing, and resource extraction, but these activities are heavily regulated.
Difference between National Parks and Monuments
The most significant distinction between National Monuments and National Parks is when they were established. With the help of the president, national monuments may also be formed. The United States Constitution must be followed by virtually every other categorization.
The two distinctions are that National Monument Management is managed by a variety of agencies, each of which operates in collaboration with the National Park Service, while National Parks are managed by the National Park Service alone.
National monuments can be designated in two ways—presidential proclamation under the Antiquities Act or legislation from Congress. The first monument was declared in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt, Devils Tower in Wyoming. The Antiquities Act was passed in 1906, allowing the president to declare a national monument on federal land.
See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November
Best National Monuments in the United States to Visit
There are many beautiful and awe-inspiring national monuments in the United States, but here are five of my favorites. The following is a list of national monuments by state, with the best ones to visit highlighted.
1. Statue of Liberty National Monument
The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in the middle of New York Harbor in Manhattan, New York City.
The statue, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law).
It is one of the most recognizable symbols of the United States and the most well-known US National Monument. The Statue of Liberty was designated a National Monument on October 15, 1924. if you want to see the monument up close, book the Statue of Liberty Express Skip-the-Box-Office Cruise.
2. Grand Canyon Parashant
Grand Canyon Parashant is in northwest Arizona and is part of the Grand Canyon National Park. The Monument was designated in 2000 and covers 1,014,000 acres. Grand Canyon Parashant is unique because it is the only National Monument and National Park.
The National Monument was created to protect the vast and remote area home to many plants and animals, including the endangered California condor.
See Related: Grand Canyon Packing List
3. Grand Staircase-Escalante
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) is a United States National Monument managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Monument was established by presidential proclamation on September 18, 1996.
Grand Staircase-Escalante encompasses 1,880,461 acres (7,617 km2) of land, including the Kaiparowits Plateau, the longest continuous stretch of unspoiled land in the lower 48 United States. GSENM is the largest national monument in the United States.
GSENM has been the focus of much controversy since its inception. The Monument was established over the objection of Utah’s Congressional delegation, who felt that the state of Utah should manage the land. Many residents also oppose the Monument, fearing it will result in lost jobs and economic opportunities.
Sadly, the National Monument has been a target for energy exploration and development, with over 200,000 acres (810 km2) leased for oil and gas extraction.
4. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument is located in Maryland and commemorates the life of Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist who helped hundreds of slaves escape to freedom.
The park features a visitor center with fascinating exhibits on Tubman’s life and the Underground Railroad, as well as hiking trails and a picnic area.
See related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Williamstown, Kentucky
5. George Washington Birthplace
This one is a doozy; it is where America’s first president was born and serves as a poignant reminder of slavery in America. George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on February 22, 1732. The former colonel would become the first U.S. president and is arguably the most important founding father of the United States.
Washington’s father, Augustine Washington, was a successful tobacco plantation owner, and George Washington inherited his wealth, 64 slaves, and this land after his father’s death. It’s now home to the Washington Family Burial Ground and the Memorial House, a charming brick house constructed in 1931.
See Related: Best Washington D.C. Walking Tours
6. Devils Tower
Devils Tower National Monument is a United States National Monument in Crook County, Wyoming. It is the first national monument designated by the United States Congress and also the first to be managed by the National Park Service.
The monument is on land annexed from the Crow Indian Reservation in 1906. Devils Tower was declared a national monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. The monument is located on the eastern edge of the Black Hills, about 6 miles (9.7 km) west of Hulett and 10 miles (16 km) north of Sundance in Crook County, Wyoming.
Devils Tower rises 1,267 feet (386 m) from its base to 5,112 feet (1,559 m) above sea level. The tower is 857 feet (261 m) wide at its base.
See Related: Best Christmas Vacations in the United States
7. Giant Sequoia National Monument
The giant sequoias are a sight to behold in Giant Sequoia National Monument. They are the largest trees in the world and can grow up to 300 feet tall.
They are located in the Sierra Nevada region of California and are a National Monument. The giant sequoias offer an outdoor opportunity like no other, with more than 30 squaw forests over 325,000 acres. The Sequoias National Park and Kings Canyon are open to visitors except when the weather is dangerous.
Prices for each vehicle range from $30 to $30 per car and are available for prepayment. This cost includes access to both parks. If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, be sure to visit the giant sequoias.
8. Pipestone National Monument
Pipestone National Monument is located in southwestern Minnesota, near the cities of Pipestone and Worth. The monument was established in 1937 to protect the pipestone quarries, which Native Americans have used for centuries to make ceremonial pipes.
The park includes about 500 acres of land and a visitor center with exhibits on the pipestone quarries and the area’s Native American history. This is one of two Minnesota national monuments. The other is Grand Portage National Monument.
If you plan on making the trip, check out these other best things to do in Pipestone, Minnesota.
See Related: Best Road Trips in the U.S.
9. Governors Island National Monument
Governors Island is a 172-acre island located in Manhattan Harbor, New York. The island has been inhabited by the U.S. Army and Coast Guard for nearly 200 years, from 1794 to 1966, and provides spectacular views of America’s most famous skyline.
The park offers several historic buildings to visit, as well as bicycle paths, guided tours, and a ferry service to the island. The islands are open from late spring to late October, and visiting the island is free, but ferry trips cost about $3 a person.
See Related: Best Tours in Washington D.C.
10. Muir Woods
Muir Woods is a beautiful and popular destination for both travelers and inhabitants. The redwood forest is stunning, and the various trails cater to multiple tastes.
Muir Woods is well-maintained and a great place to spend a day outdoors. To get to Muir Woods, take Highway 1 North from San Francisco.
There are a few options for places to stay near Muir Woods. The closest town is Mill Valley, which has a few hotels and B&Bs. If you’re looking for something more rustic, there are also a few campgrounds in the area.
11. Canyon de Chelly
The Canyon de Chelly is one of the most popular national monuments in the United States. It is known for its stunning views and rich history. The monument is located on the Colorado Plateau, consisting of a beautiful canyon that has seen human activity for over 5,000 years.
There are also a variety of hiking trails and campgrounds available at the monument. Admission is free, and the monument is open every day of the year.
12. Admiralty Island
Alaska’s Admiralty Island is one of a kind in Alaska, if not the United States. This region has an outstanding example of a North Pacific temperate rainforest and features many brown bears.
Visitors may see these bear species in the wild by traveling by floatplane and then walking to the lookout tower, where they may witness salmon spawning during the summer. Wolves, deer, and moose may be seen in the region, making Admiralty Island a top destination for those interested in wildlife viewing.
See Related: Best Places to Visit in Alaska
13. Fort McHenry National Monument
The Battle of Baltimore inspired Francis Scott Key to write the United States national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” in Fort McHenry in Maryland. Visitors may learn about the area’s rich historical past at this national monument, visit the Star Fort, and see the officer’s residences.
The National Historic Sites are open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, and the park grounds are open from 6 am to 10 pm. The monument is also wheelchair accessible, allowing visitors to enjoy Fort McHenry National Monument activities.
See related: The German National Anthem: Das Deutschlandlied
14. Fort Sumter National Monument
Fort Sumter is located in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. It is a national monument that is rich in American history. The fort was critical during the Civil War, as Confederate troops fired upon Union troops there in April 1865.
Visitors can access Fort Sumter via authorized boat concessions. Ticket prices are $12 for kids ages 4-11 years and $30 for children and teens.
It’s also worth hanging out in Charleston if you have the time. Not only is this terrific town rich in history and incredible cuisine, but the weather here is also typically glorious.
See Related: Best Sabbatical Destination
15. Natural Bridges National Monument
National Natural Bridges was first recognized as a National Monument in 1908 and spanned over two counties in southern Utah. The Monument offers visitors a look at the beautiful landscape of Utah and allows for up to close inspection of the natural bridges.
The Monument contains a scenic loop, accessible from the main road, and also provides short walks for visitors to get closer to the bridges. The Monument is open year-round, though the access roads may close during winter storms.
List of National Monuments in the United States
|National Monument||Agency||Location||Year Established|
|African Burial Ground||NPS||New York||2006|
|Agate Fossil Beds||NPS||Nebraska||1997|
|Aleutian Islands World War 2||FWS||Alaska||2008|
|Alibates Flint Quarries||NPS||Texas||1965|
|Aztec Ruins||NPS||New Mexico||1923|
|Basin and Range||BLM||Nevada||2015|
|Bears Ears||BLM, USFS||Utah||2016|
|Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality||NPS||District of Columbia||2016|
|Berryessa Snow Mountain||USFS, BLM||California||2015|
|Birmingham Civil Rights||NPS||Alabama||2017|
|Booker T. Washington||NPS||Virginia||1956|
|Browns Canyon||BLM, USFS||Colorado||2015|
|Buck Island Reef||NPS||US Virgin Islands||1961|
|Camp Nelson Heritage||NPS||Kentucky||2018|
|Canyon de Chelly||NPS||Arizona||1931|
|Canyons of the Ancients||BLM||Colorado||2000|
|Capulin Volcano||NPS||New Mexico||1916|
|Casa Grande Ruins||NPS||Arizona||1918|
|Castillo de San Marcos||NPS||Florida||1924|
|Castle Clinton||NPS||New York||1946|
|Cesar E. Chaves||NPS||California||2012|
|Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers||NPS||Ohio||2013|
|Craters of the Moon||NPS, BLM||Idaho||1924|
|El Malpais||NPS||New Mexico||1987|
|El Morro||NPS||New Mexico||1906|
|Florissant Fossil Beds||NPS||Colorado||1969|
|Fort Stanwix||NPS||New York||1935|
|Fort Union||NPS||New Mexico||1956|
|George Washington Birthplace||NPS||Virginia||1930|
|George Washington Carver||NPS||Missouri||1943|
|Gila Cliff Dwellings||NPS||New Mexico||1907|
|Governors Island||NPS||New York||2001|
|Grand Canyon Parashant||BLM, NPS||Arizona||2000|
|Hagerman Fossil Beds||NPS||Idaho||1988|
|Hanford Reach||FWS, DOE||Washington||2000|
|Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad||FWS||Maryland||2013|
|Jewel Cave||NPS||South Dakota||1908|
|John Day Fossil Beds||NPS||Oregon||1974|
|Kasha-Katuwe Ten Rocks||BLM||New Mexico||2001|
|Katahdin Woods and Waters||NPS||Maine||2016|
|Little Bighorn Battlefield||NPS||Montana||1940|
|Marianas Trench Marine||NOAA, FWS||Guam||2009|
|Medgar and Myrlie Evans Home||NPS||Mississippi||2020|
|Military Working Dog Teams||DOD||Texas||2013|
|Mill Springs Battlefield||NPS||Kentucky||2020|
|Mount St. Helens Volcanic||USFS||Washington||1982|
|Northeast Canyons and Seamonts Marine||NOAA, FWS||Atlantic Ocean||2016|
|Organ Pipe Cactus||NPS||Arizona||1937|
|Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks||BLM||New Mexico||2014|
|Pacific Remote Islands Marine||NOAA, FWS||US Minor Outlying Islands||2009|
|Papahānaumokuākea Marine||NOAA, FWS||Hawaii, US Minor Outlying Islands||2006|
|Prehistoric Trackways||BLM||New Mexico||2009|
|President Lincoln and Soldiers’ Home||AFRH||District of Columbia||2000|
|Rio Grande del Norte||BLM||New Mexico||2013|
|Rose Atoll Marine||NOAA, FWS||American Samoa||2009|
|Saint Francis Dam Disaster||USFS||California||2019|
|Salinas Pueblo Missions||NPS||New Mexico||1909|
|San Gabriel Mountains||USFS||California||2014|
|San Juan Islands||BLM||Washington||2013|
|Sand to Snow||BLM, USFS||California||2016|
|Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains||BLM, USFS||California||2000|
|Statue of Liberty||NPS||New York, New Jersey||1924|
|Sunset Crater Volcano||NPS||Arizona||1930|
|Tule Lake||NPS, FWS||California||2008|
|Tule Springs Fossil Beds||NPS||Nevada||2014|
|Upper Missouri River Breaks||BLM||Montana||2001|
|Virgin Islands Coral Reef||NPS||US Virgin Islands||2001|
How many national monuments are there?
There are 129 national monuments in the United States.
What state has the most national monuments?
California and Arizona have the most national monuments; both of these states have 18 national monuments.
Why are national monuments important?
The national monuments in the United States are designed to safeguard important cultural assets, history, and legacies.
What is the first national monument?
It was on September 24, 1906, that Devils Tower was proclaimed a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt, making it the first of its kind.
- Best Vacation for a Group of Friends
- Best National Parks in the USA
- Best Spring Break Destinations for Families
- Best Travel Credit Cards
Lock In Your Travel Now
Find Cheap Flights
Use Skyscanner to find flight deals. As my personal favorite flight search engine, Skyscanner scours websites and airlines across the globe, leaving no stone unturned to help you find the best deal possible. And if you really want to take your savings to new heights, pair Skyscanner with Going (Formerly Scott's Cheap Flights). With access to exclusive mistake fares delivered straight to your inbox, you'll be packing your bags and jetting off on your next adventure before you know it.
Travel insurance is a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Cover yourself against illness, injury and theft, and protect the arrangements you've made with our flexible travel cancellation insurance. My favorite options for travel insurance are:
Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use Booking.com as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.
Want More Destination Ideas Direct to Your Inbox?
Be sure to join the ViaTravelers Newsletter for expert tips, tricks and inspiration for your next travel journey!
Discover the Best Travel Tools
Be sure to visit our page on our favorite travel resources to learn how you too can visit over 10 countries in year.