The Rock is more myth than reality. Still, the former federal penitentiary attracts more than 1 million visitors annually as a museum. Some of the country’s most notorious criminals were incarcerated on The Rock at one time or another. Several tried to escape, but none were successful. Or, were they? Even though the prison closed in the 1960s, its stories about remain legendary to this day.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, located about 30 minutes southwest of Rapid City, features portraits of four presidents carved into granite — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. Measuring 60-feet-tall, the portraits are perhaps the definitive American attraction. Crews completed Mount Rushmore between Oct. 4, 1927, and Oct. 31, 1941. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum selected the four presidents to memorialize on Mount Rushmore. More than two million people visit Mount Rushmore, sometimes called the “Shrine of Democracy.”
Recent news releases from Mount Rushmore National Memorial:
- Sculpture Preservation Continues with Annual Rock Block Monitor Calibration October 12 - 13
- Public input needed on potential alternatives for the draft air tour management plan for Mount Rushmore National Memorial
- Independence Day 2022 Celebrations at Mount Rushmore
- National Park Tourism in the Black Hills Area Creates $301.4 Million in Economic Benefit
- Winter Prescribed Burn To Reduce Slash Piles
James Oglethorpe established Fort Frederica on what is today St. Simons Island in 1736, just three years after he founded Georgia.. The goal of the settlement was to to protect the southern boundary of the British colony of Georgia from the Spanish. At times, more than 600 British troops were stationed at the fort. A visitor to the fort in 1745 described it as “a pretty strong fort of tabby,” noting the structure was “surrounded by a quadrangular rampart, with four bastions of earth well stocked and turned, and a palisade ditch.” During the battles of Bloody Marsh and Gully Hole Creek in 1742, Oglethorpe’s successfully repulsed Spanish attempts to invade St. Simons Island.
Haleakalā National Park is perhaps the crown jewel of Maui. The 33,265-acre national park is a popular destination for tourists wanting to watch the sunrise on the island, even though clouds often obscure the view. At the center of the park is the dormant Haleakalā (East Maui) Volcano. The volcano last erupted more than 400 years ago, likely between 1480 and 1600 AD.
Christoffelpark is the largest national park on Curaçao and features a variety of local flora and fauna, including wild orchids, the Palabrua, the rare native barn owl and the Curaçao White Tailed deer. The park, which was officially handed made a national park in 1978, is home to eight hiking trails.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park offers the opportunity to connect with an important time in American history and a free outdoor experience. Located between Marietta and Kennesaw, the 2,923-acre national park offers visitors the chance to learn about an important time in history and also enjoy the great outdoors. The national park features 18 miles of walking trails, some rather steep as they approach the top of the mountain. The park features three battlefield areas: one located in front of the Visitor Center, another off Burnt Hickory Road and the main site at Cheatham Hill, which during the Civil War was called the Dead Angle. The visitor center is a logical place to start because it provides an abundance of information about what happened during the battle.
President Richard Nixon authorized the Lincoln Home National Historic Site Aug. 18, 1971. The park was formally established on Oct. 9, 1972, to preserve and protect the only home ever owned by President Abraham Lincoln. In total, the park’s buildings make up four-and-a-half square blocks on 12 acres. Among the buildings is the home where the 16th president of the United States lived from 1844 to 1861.
The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site includes three sites along a fifteen-mile stretch of Interstate 90 in Western South Dakota. Congress authorized the park in 1999 to preserve components of the Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile system. The site includes the Delta-01 Launch Control Facility, the missile silo at Delta-09 and the visitors center. “The Delta-01 Launch Control Facility provides a remarkable opportunity to view the front line of the Cold War,” Superintendent Eric Leonard said in a 2020 news release.
Since 1994, Shete Boka Nationa Park park has protected 200 hectares of land along the northern coast of Curaçao. The coast sees some of the roughest seas on the island. The park is home to more than 10 inlets (bokas), including Boka Kortalein, Boka Plate, Boka Mans Alina, Boka Djegu, Dos Boka and Boka Wandomi, which features a natural bridge. Boka Tabla is perhaps most famous inlet and features a cave that is accessible during lower tides. The inlets are also protected nesting areas for sea turtles. The park makes for a great place to watch the massive waves crash against the coastline.
The General Grant National Memorial is the final resting place of President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia. The memorial is the largest mausoleum in North America and honors the man who credited with ending the bloodiest conflict in American history as Commanding General of the Union Army. After his Presidency, Grant settled in New York City and died of throat cancer on July 23, 1885. He was laid to rest in New York City on Aug. 8, 1885. More than a million people attended the parade and dedication ceremony of Grant’s Tomb on April 27, 1897.
Dry Tortugas National Park, situated about 68 miles west of Key West, preserves Fort Jefferson and the seven Dry Tortugas islands, the westernmost and most isolated Florida Keys. Fort Jefferson, a massive but unfinished coastal fortress, is the largest brick masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere and includes more than 16 million bricks. The park, accessible by seaplane and boat, is popular for its abundant sea life, tropical bird breeding grounds and colorful coral reefs. Dry Tortugas National Park is part of the Everglades & Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve, which UNESCO established in 1976 under its Man and the Biosphere Programme.
The Lincoln Memorial is Washington is perhaps the most recognizable of all American monuments. This shrine to the nation’s 16th president, situated on the western end of the National Mall, was built between 1914 and 1922; it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on Oct. 15, 1966. Demands for a tribute to the murdered president date to the years just after his assassination, and the first monument in Washington, D.C., to Lincoln was erected in 1868. Over the years, the Lincoln Memorial has been the site a number of major speeches, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963.
The Ocmulgee National Monument preserves traces of over ten millennia of Southeastern Native American culture. Natives first came to the area during the Paleo-Indian period hunting Ice Age mammals. While many different cultures occupied this land for thousands of years, the centerpiece of the monument is a series of earthworks built before 1000 CE by the South Appalachian Mississippian culture, a regional variation of the Mississippian culture.
Independence Hall, the centerpiece of Independence National Historical Park, is where the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Inside the building nearly a dozen years later, in 1787, they laid the framework for the U.S. Constitution. Today, the historic edifice is the centerpiece of Independence National Historical Park. A guided tour of the building brings to life the many events that happened inside the building’s four walls that shaped the country’s early history.
Of all the nation’s symbols, none may be as enduring as the Liberty Bell. A Philadelphia institution for two-and-a-half centuries, the bell’s story is as much fiction and folklore as it is a fact. Initially cast in 1752 by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, a British foundry still in operation today, the bell arrived in Philadelphia in August 1752, cracked on its first use. A pair of founders, John Pass and John Stow, offered to recast the bell. Even though neither was an expert in bell casting, the two broke up the bell, melted it down and recast it after adding copper to the mix to strengthen the metal. What emerged was the Liberty Bell.
Death Valley National Park straddles the California-Nevada border. Located east of the Sierra Nevada, the 3.3 million-acre national park occupies an interface zone between the arid Great Basin and Mojave deserts in the United States.
The Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, Ga., includes sites related to President Jimmy Carter. The site includes his boyhood farm, his former school and the town railroad depot, which served as his campaign headquarters during the 1976 election. Carter, the 39th President of the United States, was born in 1924 in Plains and still lives in the small town.
British Army and Canadian militia troops built Fort York during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Their goal was to defend what was then the settlement of York from a potential military attack from their southern neighbors. Despite the military presence, we attacked in 1813 and burned part of York, including the Parliament Building. The British retaliated the following year and burned the White House. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1923, and Toronto designated it a Heritage Conservation District in 1985.
President George W. Bush, using the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906, created the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument on Dec. 5, 2008. The centerpiece of the monument is Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. The monument is also home to the Battleship Missouri, the last battleship commissioned by the United States and was the site of the Japanese surrender on Sept 2, 1945, marking the end of World War II.
The Bunker Hill Monument was constructed to memorialize the June 17, 1775, Battle of Bunker Hill, one of the first major battles between British and Patriot forces during the American Revolution. The 221-foot-tall obelisk was erected between 1825 and 1843 in Charlestown, using granite from nearby Quincy. The Bunker Hill Museum, dedicated in June 2007, features exhibits about the battle.
President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 created Wind Cave National Park. It was the seventh national park and the first cave worldwide designated as a national park. While the park is known as the home of one of the longest caves globally, measuring more than 149 miles, it is home to the largest remaining natural mixed-grass prairie in the country. The park, which covers 33,847 acres, is home to an array of animals, including bison and prairie dogs. Access to the caves has been closed since 2019 because of a broken elevator.
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park preserves the sites of two major battles of the American Civil War: the Battle of Chickamauga and the Chattanooga Campaign.
Castle Clinton, also known as Fort Clinton and previously Castle Garden, is a circular sandstone fort located in what is today Battery Park. The structure sits roughly two blocks west of where Fort Amsterdam was built in 1626. At the time, New York City was still named New Amsterdam. Construction on Castle Clinton started in 1808 and finished in 1811; it was built on a small artificial island just offshore. The structure was America’s first immigration station and predates Ellis Island. More than 8 million immigrants passed through Castle Clinton while entering the United States between 1855 and 1890.
Construction on the Ohio Statehouse started in 1839, and the structure was completed in 1861 and is considered to be a significant architectural accomplishment. The edifice, the seat of Ohio’s government, has been restored to its 1861 appearance. To learn more about the Buckeye State can venture to the Ohio Statehouse Museum Education Center on the ground floor of the statehouse. Visitors can participate in a tour or wander the museum at their own pace. A monument to President William McKinley, a native of Niles, Ohio, stands in front of the statehouse.
There is no more well-known symbol of New York City or the country, for that matter than Lady Liberty herself. French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi designed colossal neoclassical sculpture, while Gustave Eiffel oversaw its construction. The Statue of Liberty, which sits on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, was dedicated on Oct. 28, 1886. For anyone who doesn’t want to take the boat to the island should consider the Staten Island Ferry for great views. It won’t cost a dime.
The Saguaro cactus is perhaps the most endearing symbol of the Sonoran Desert and the American southwest. Among the best places to see these marvels of nature up close is the 92,000-acre Saguaro National Park. There are two sections of the park: east (the Rincon Mountain District) and west (the Tucson Mountain District). President Herbert Hoover in 1933 used the Antiquities Act to establish the Saguaro National Monument, and President John. F. Kennedy added the Tucson Mountain District in 1961. In 1994, Congress combined the two districts to form the national park. Today, in addition to the stunning views, there are 165 miles of trails for visitors to explore.
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site consists of several buildings and sites connected to King. They include his boyhood home, the original Ebenezer Baptist Church and Fire Station No. 6. The area includes a total of 35 acres and was designated as a National Historic Site on Oct. 10, 1980. The King Birth Home, located at 501 Auburn Avenue in the Sweet Auburn historic district, was built in 1895 and is located about a block east of Ebenezer Baptist Church. King was born here in 1929, and the King family lived in the house until 1941. Its was later converted into a two-family dwelling. The Rev. A.D. Williams King, the brother of King Jr., lived on the second floor in the 1950s and early 1960s. The visitor center offers free tours of the house led by National Park Service rangers. Fire Station No. 6 was built in 1894 and served the Sweet Auburn community until 1991. The fire station was an important community meeting place. A 1927 American LaFrance fire engine is on display at the museum.