11 Incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites Right Here in the U.S.

By Nick Wharton on 20 October 2017 0 comments

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, more widely known as UNESCO, has been shining the spotlight on unique and outstanding locations across the world for nearly four decades now. Sites recognized as being on the UNESCO World Heritage List are going to be either stunningly beautiful, historically significant, culturally important, or all of the above. There’s no need to travel halfway around the world to catch a glimpse of one, though, as we have 23 of them here in our backyard. And although the Trump administration has announced plans to withdraw from UNESCO, it remains unclear if these world heritage sites will be impacted. Here are 11 incredible Unesco World Heritage sites you can visit right here in the U.S. (See also: How to Build Your Best Travel Budget)

1. Independence Hall

Nicknamed the birthplace of the United States, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall is the site where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S Constitution were debated and formally signed. As a result, it is rightly considered one of the most important buildings in the U.S., thanks to the hugely significant part it played in the formation of the unified country we know today. Soak up the history with an entertaining, informative, and free tour around its hallowed grounds.

2. Everglades National Park

This 1.5 million acre site in southern Florida is made up primarily of wetland, making it one of the most diverse habitats in the U.S. The protected wildlife found here includes crocodiles, caimans and alligators, herons, ibis, and flamingoes, as well as whales and dolphins, making it a nature lover’s paradise. There are plenty of options for exploring the wilderness of the Everglades, from cycling and kayaking to hiking and camping, and you can also sign up for various Ranger-led programs.

3. Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Deep in the Chihuahuan Desert in southeast New Mexico is where you’ll find Carlsbad Caverns National Park. It’s home to a network of 300 limestone caves, the most famous being Carlsbad Cavern from which the park takes its name. Various tours are available through the caves, allowing you to explore at your own pace or with Ranger guides. The park is also famous for its 17 different species of bats, some of which perform spectacular outflights that visitors can witness through the nightly bat flight program running between May and October. (See also: How to Use Travel Rewards to Get Free Trips)

4. San Antonio Missions

Not to be confused with the local baseball team of the same name, San Antonio Missions are the latest U.S. addition to the UNESCO World Heritage list. Included in 2015, these walled communities grew out of the desire of the Spanish colonists to spread Catholicism among the native population. The four well preserved missions are like mini villages, encompassing churches, houses, and farmlands. They’re the perfect place to learn about this period in history. (See also: 6 Outdoor Adventures That Don’t Cost a Dime)

5. Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular and awe-inspiring natural landscapes anywhere in the whole of the U.S, largely thanks to its immense size. At 277 river miles in length, over 18 miles across at its widest point, and a mile deep, it cuts an imposing path through the Arizona landscape. There are endless ways to witness the Grand Canyon, including various trekking routes, on horseback, via train ride, rafting down the river, or from the knee knocking Skywalk. (See also: 5 Affordable Countries Every Outdoor Explorer Can Afford to Visit)

6. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Located on the Big Island of Hawaii are the two volcanoes that make up this phenomenal national park. Kīlauea and Mauna Loa are two of the world’s most active volcanoes and regularly erupt to spew molten lava across the surrounding landscape. Experience incredible crater drives, cycle routes to astounding viewpoints, or even explore the park by foot. If you’re lucky, you can also catch the lava spilling over into the sea in freshly created red hot “waterfalls.” (See also: 6 Ways My Family Scores Free Travel With Credit Cards)

7. Kluane / Wrangell-St. Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek

Along the U.S.-Canada border is a series of parks that cross into, and are jointly protected by both countries, made up of Kluane, Wrangell-St. Elias, Glacier Bay, and Tatshenshini-Alsek. The vast ice empire that lies within them boasts some of the most stunning glacial landscapes in the world, much of it permanently crowned in snow. Not only do these parks contain the largest icefield anywhere outside of the polar regions, but they also have a sizeable population of grizzly bears and other threatened species.

8. Yellowstone National Park

The historical Yellowstone was designated as a national park in 1872, making it the world’s first National Park, a formula that would go on to become widely copied. Beyond this, it’s also famous for its tremendous diversity of wildlife and the many thousands of hydrothermal features spread throughout the park. These include various colorful hot springs, spurting geysers, bubbling mud pots, steaming fumaroles, and limestone travertine terraces, which attract more than 4 million visitors each year.

9. Mesa Verde National Park

Created in 1906, Mesa Verde National Park was created with the aim of preserving the history of the ancestral Pueblo people who made their home here 700 years ago. The park, located in Colorado, holds almost 5,000 known architectural sites with many more believed to lie still undiscovered within its boundaries. Of these, undoubtedly the best loved are the remarkable dwellings built into the shallow overhangs of the cliffs above, including Cliff Palace, which is the largest and best preserved.

10. Statue of Liberty

Possibly the most iconic emblem of the United States, the Statue of Liberty was actually a gift donated by the people of France. With her outstretched, torch-bearing arm and broken chains lying at her feet, she has come to represent the institutions of liberty and democracy that the U.S. upholds. No visit to New York would be complete without a trip up to the crown to appreciate the panoramic views back across the city.

11. Redwood National and State Parks

The trees that grow within the four parks that make up Redwood National and State Parks are renowned for being some of the very tallest and oldest on the planet. Reaching up to 367 feet, or about the size of a 35-story skyscraper, the Redwoods here can live up to 2,000 years old. But the trees aren’t the only points of interest. The parks also cover around 40 miles of the California coastline, meaning there’s lots of ocean wildlife on display including whales, sea lions, and dolphins.

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11 Incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites Right Here in the U.S.

11 Incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites Right Here in the U.S.

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