Did you know that the United States is home to more than 400 National Parks?! With so many deemed national parks, it’s understandable that there may be a few (or a lot) that you didn’t realise were actually National Parks…

California

Golden Gate Bridge

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Pic by @diegograndi

Golden Gate National Park chronicles two hundred years of history; from the Native American culture, Spanish Empire Frontier and the Mexican Republic, to maritime history, the California Gold Rush, the evolution of American coastal fortifications and the growth of urban San Francisco.

The park’s cultural resources are tremendously varied. Dramatic views of contrasting rural and urban environments lead to historic landscapes ranging from dairy ranches and seaside recreation sites, to maritime resources like lighthouses and shipwrecks. Golden Gate has been part of the homelands of Coastal Miwok and Ohlone people for thousands of years and still contains archaeological sites and landscapes influenced by native land management.

The park includes the largest and most complete collection of military installations and fortifications in the country, dating from Spanish settlement in 1776, through to the Nike missiles of the Cold War. Golden Gate contains eleven former Army posts whose military architecture and historic landscape comprise the heart of the park.

Cabrillo National Monument

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Pic by @fvllweather

On 28 September 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed at San Diego Bay. This event marked the first time that a European expedition had set foot on what later became the West Coast of the United States. His accomplishments were memorialised on 14 October 1913, with the establishment of Cabrillo National Monument.

The park offers a superb view of San Diego’s harbour and skyline. At the highest point of the park stands the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which has been a San Diego icon since 1854. A statue and museum in the Visitor Centre commemorate Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s exploration of the coast of California. In a former army building, an exhibit tells the story of the coast artillery on Point Loma. In the winter, migrating gray whales can be seen off the coast, making the sage scrub covered Bayside Trail a nice, quiet place to reflect and relax. On the west side of the park is a small, but beautiful stretch of rocky-intertidal coastline.

Idaho

Nez Perce National Historic Park

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Pic by @simplelifedefined

For thousands of years, the valleys, prairies, mountains and plateaus of the inland northwest have been home to the Nimiipuu or Nez Perce people. Explore these places, learn their stories and treat them with care.

The 38 sites of Nez Perce National Historic Park are scattered across the states of Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana and have been designated to commemorate the stories and history of the Nimiipuu and their interaction with explorers, fur traders, missionaries, soldiers, settlers, gold miners and farmers who moved through or into the area.

Arizona

Glen Canyon Dam

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Pic by @nihalceliker

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area offers unparalleled opportunities for water-based and backcountry recreation. The recreation area stretches for hundreds of miles from Lees Ferry in Arizona to the Orange Cliffs of southern Utah, encompassing scenic vistas, geologic wonders and a panorama of human history. Additionally, the controversy surrounding the construction of Glen Canyon Dam and the creation of Lake Powell contributed to the birth of the modern day environmental movement. The park offers opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming, backcountry hiking and four-wheel drive trips. Outdoor activities are what Glen Canyon is all about. Whether you’re on your own, or on a guided trip, there is something for everyone’s taste.

Wyoming

Devil’s Tower National Monument

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Pic by @ladzinski

Rising 386 metres above the Belle Fourche River, Devil’s Tower has long been a beacon, attracting people and capturing their imaginations since prehistoric times. Today, it continues to hold much meaning for people including Native Americans, local ranchers, rock climbers and thousands of visitors.

Using the authority of the newly created Antiquities Act, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devil’s Tower America’s first national monument on 24 September 1906.

Virginia

Yorktown Historical Battlefield Park

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Pic by @a_colonial_candle

Discover what it took for the United States to be independent as you explore the site of the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. Here at Yorktown, in the Autumn of 1781, General George Washington, with allied American and French forces, besieged General Charles Lord Cornwallis’ British Army. On 19 October, Cornwallis surrendered, effectively ending the war and ensuring independence.

Washington DC

Lincoln Memorial

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Pic by @ekimovegor

“In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.” Beneath these words, the 16th Presidents of the United States, the Great Emancipator and preserver of the nation during the Civil War, sits immortalized in marble. As an enduring symbol of Freedom, the Lincoln Memorial attracts anyone who seeks inspiration and hope.

The Memorial’s steps have been a stage for many significant moments in American History. On 28 August 1963, approximately 250, 000 people participated in the March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where they head Martin Luther King Jr deliver his memorable speech, “I Have a Dream.”

The Lincoln Memorial is shown on the back of both the United States one cent coin and the five dollar bill, while the front of each bears Lincoln’s portrait.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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Pic by @gordonklau

Located on the National Mall in Washington DC, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall honours the men and women who served when their nation called upon them. Deliberately setting aside the controversies of the war, the designer, Maya Lin felt that “the politics had eclipsed the veterans, their service and their lives.” In keeping with this belief, the design remains elegantly simple to “allow everyone to respond and remember.”

Korean War Veterans Memorial

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Pic by @caytonholland

From 1950 to 1953, The United States joined with the United Nations forces in Korea to take a stand against what was deemed a threat to democratic nations worldwide. At war’s end, a million and a half American veterans returned to a peacetime world of families, homes and jobs – and to a country long reluctant to view the Korean War as something to memorialise. But to the men and women who served, the Korean War could never be a forgotten war. The Korean War Veterans Memorial honours those Americans who answered the call, those who worked and fought under the trying of circumstances, and those who gave their lives for the cause of freedom.

World War II Memorial

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Pic by @darkstone2215

The World War II Memorial commemorates the sacrifice and celebrates the victory of the “greatest generation.” Friedrich St. Florianis’ winning design balances classical and modernist styles of architecture, harmonises with its natural and cultural surroundings and connects the legacy of the American Revolution and the American Civil War with a great crusade to rid the world of fascism.

Pennsylvania

Liberty Bell and Independence Hall

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Pic by @cmon.lets.explore

For Americans, there are no more potent symbols of individual freedom than Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

Since 1951, this building and this long-silent tocsin have been maintained by the American people as part of Independence National Historical Park. The park includes three square blocks in the City of Philadelphia where the dream of a free country of independent citizens became fact. Here were written the two documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, on which the foundations of the country rest. Here, from 1790 to 1800, when Philadelphia was the nation’s capital, the principle of governance based on the rights of individual citizens was first tested.

Through a series of events, which in retrospect seem almost miraculous, many of the buildings in which these events took place were preserved. With years of devotion and effort on the part of the City of Philadelphia, the National Park Service, and countless private citizens, these places have been restored for the enjoyment and enlightenment of the millions who come to Independence.

Massachusetts

Cape Cod National Seashore

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Pic by @christinak511

Writing about Cape Cod in the 1800s, Henry David Thoreau said, “A man may stand there and put all America behind him.”

Thoreau walked the length of the great Outer Beach. Present day visitors can trace Thoreau’s route along 40 miles of pristine, sandy beach protected within Cape Cod National Seashore.

Cape Cod is a large peninsula extending 60 miles into the Atlantic ocean from the coast of Massachusetts. Located on the outer portion of the Cape, Cape Cod National Seashore 44, 600 acres encompass a rich mosaic of marine, estuarine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. These systems and their associated habitats reflect the Cape is glacial in origin, dynamic natural processes and at least 9000 years of human activity.

All information provided by National Park Foundation and National Park Service.

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