A massive natural amphitheater spanning 3 miles across, Cedar Breaks National Monument is located in Utah. The gorgeous landscape of this rugged national monument draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the country every year.
In the 1800s, Mormon settlers who came across this rugged landscape of steep canyons, cliffs, and walls referred to the wild area as “breaks” due to its difficulty to pass through. These settlers mistakenly referred to the abundance of juniper trees that grow in the area as cedars, resulting in the monument’s current name, Cedar Breaks. The amphitheater is situated on the same plateau as Zion National Park and eroded into its current form over millions of years. In 1933, Cedar Breaks was established as a national monument by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Cedar Breaks National Monument is composed of an enormous natural amphitheater of limestone and volcanic rock which yield vibrant colors and unique rock formations. The breathtaking landscape also includes juniper trees and alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers that surround the steep amphitheater.
Situated in central Idaho’s Snake River Plain, Caters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve protects a vast area of lava flows, sagebrush, and cinder cones. The rugged landscape resembles that of the moon’s surface and was visited by Apollo 14 astronauts in preparation for their trips to the moon.
In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge established Craters of the Moon as a national monument. In 2000, President Clinton expanded the monument’s area. Craters of the Moon was established over the course of 15,000 years by a series of lava eruptions, leaving behind basalt lava deposits and other volcanic features. Throughout history this region was home to varying Native American tribes who created trails through this rugged landscape. Those trails were then used by pioneers along the Oregon Trail to avoid the region’s lava flows.
A rugged, breathtaking landscape, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve boasts volcanic terrain encompassing Idaho’s Great Rift. The monument protects lava fields, sagebrush steppe grasslands, and represents one of the country’s best examples of flood basalt. The volcanic features that define the monument are similar to the moon’s surface for which it is named.
A US national monument situated in northwestern Nebraska, the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument protects a massive amount of well-preserved Miocene fossils. The area is also composed of grassy plains and a valley of the Niobrara River.
In the 1890s, scientists discovered the incredibly-well preserved bones of Miocene Epoch mammals, making the Agate Fossil Beds one of the most significant sites of its kind. The High Plains were once home to these ancient mammals and tribal nations like the Lakota Sioux before becoming inhabited by settlers moving west across America. The fossils found here date back to 20 to 16.3 million years ago, and are some of the best examples of Miocene mammals in existence today.
The site’s Agate Springs Ranch was originally owned by Captain James Cook, and is currently a working cattle ranch. The Agate Fossil Beds National Monument includes a museum that houses many artifacts from the Plains Indians. The national monument was officially established in 1997.
The main features of the park include the grassy plains, the Niobrara River valley, and the Carnegie Hill and University Hill fossils. There are a variety of plants and wildflowers found on the plains, some of which include prairie sandreed, blue grama, little bluestem, sunflowers, and western wallflowers.
Located in Lower Manhattan, New York City, the African Burial Ground National Monument protects a massive excavated grave site of both free and enslaved Africans from the 17th and 18th centuries. The historic site memorializes the role that slavery played in establishing New York.
In 1991, construction began for an office building at 190 Broadway in New York City. In accordance with Section 106 in the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, a “Stage 1A Cultural Resource Survey” was procured to establish whether or not the construction would interfere with any cultural or archeological history in the area. It was then discovered that 15,000 human skeletal remains of free and enslaved Africans were located just beneath the surface of the street dating back to the mid 1630s to 1795, making it the largest cemetery for people of African descent in the colonial era. In colonial times, the area had been known as the “Negroes Burial Ground”.
An important urban archeological project, the African Burial Ground National Monument is thought to be the earliest African American burial ground in New York. The site highlights the forgotten history of the enslaved African people who were an integral part in the building of New York City.
In 1993, the site became a National Historic Landmark and in 2006, President George W. Bush designated the site a National Monument. In 2007, the memorial was dedicated to honor the memory of the enslaved African Americans who helped establish New York City and their role in United States history. In 2010, the monument’s visitor center opened as a means to interpret the importance and history of the site.
Situated in eastern California, Devils Postpile National Monument protects a fascinating rock formation known as the Devils Postpile as well as Rainbow Falls and the surrounding natural landscape.
Devils Postpile was established as a national monument in 1911 by President Taft. The monument was originally part of Yosemite National Park, but with the discovery of gold in 1905 a boundary was created that separated Devils Postpile from the rest of the park.
Later on, the construction of a hydroelectric dam that would destroy Devils Postpile was proposed. John Muir along with other influential California natives convinced the federal government to protect this fascinating monument, resulting in its establishment as a national monument.
The Devils Postpile is a unique example of columnar basalt, with 60-foot towering pillars and striking symmetry. Situated in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, the landscape is rugged and mountainous, rife with hiking trails and campgrounds. Expect to see wildflowers in bloom during the summer and a plethora of wildlife year round.