America’s Top 4 Natural Landmarks

Landmarks are points of interest that include tourist attractions, well-known places, unusual landforms, monuments, memorials, and odd and unusual structures. And they can be man-made or natural.

In today’s post we detail America’s top four natural landmarks.

Carlsbad Cavern National Park, New Mexico

You will be rewarded with spectacular views, cave formations of all shapes and sizes. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You will be rewarded with spectacular views, cave formations of all shapes and sizes. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Go underground at Carlsbad Cavern, a magical world of mysterious passageways, colossal rock formations, crystal-clear pools of water, and giant subterranean chambers. Every visitor wants to see the Big Room, a chamber so large you could fit the U.S. Capitol into just one corner.

Most of the formations—or speleothems—found inside Carlsbad Cavern today were active and growing during the last ice age when instead of having a desert above the cave, there were pine forests.

Take your time to explore on a self-guided tour; be sure to look for the large colony of cave swallows that reside near the cave’s entrance.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

"Grand" doesn't begin to do this canyon justice. Measuring approximately 277 miles in length, up to 18 miles in width and a mile deep, this massive chasm in northern Arizona is truly a natural wonder. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Grand” doesn’t begin to do this canyon justice. Measuring approximately 277 miles in length, up to 18 miles in width and a mile deep, this massive chasm in northern Arizona is truly a natural wonder. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Admire the grandeur and wonders of the Grand Canyon, a powerful and inspiring landscape that overpowers our senses through its immense size.

A universally recognizable iconic destination, Grand Canyon National Park is a true marvel of nature. A deep gorge carved by the Colorado River about seventeen million year ago, the Grand Canyon stretches for more than 250 miles and is up to 18 miles in width and more than a mile deep in some areas. Just about everywhere you look the views are amazing and the sheer size of it can be overwhelming.

One of the world’s premier natural attractions, the Grand Canyon attracts over five million visitors per year.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

The breathtaking three-mile-wide amphitheater is especially colorful at sunrise and sunset from Bryce and Inspiration points. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The breathtaking three-mile-wide amphitheater is especially colorful at sunrise and sunset from Bryce and Inspiration points. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fairyland really does exist—it’s smack dab in south central Utah, where a maze of totem pole-like rock formations called hoodoos grace Bryce Canyon National Park. Hoodoos are unusual landforms in which a hard caprock slows the erosion of the softer mineral beneath it. The result is a variety of fantastical shapes.

These tall, irregular spires of rock created through erosion usually protrude upward from dry bottomland, and Bryce Canyon National Park offers the most abundant concentration of them in the U.S.

Hoodoos range in stature from 6 feet to as tall as a 10-story building, but Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos are being slowly worn away by the same forces of erosion that formed them.

Mormon pioneer Ebenezer Bryce who ranched in the area described the canyon that bears his name as “a hell of a place to lose a cow”.

But the rest of the world knows the canyon as a vast wonderland of brilliant-colored spires, rising like sentinels into the clear sky above.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Huge, rounded boulders pile up on top of each other and rectangular blocks thrust up from the ground at sloping angles, forming steep precipices. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Huge, rounded boulders pile up on top of each other and rectangular blocks thrust up from the ground at sloping angles, forming steep precipices. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Joshua Tree National Park is an amazingly diverse area of sand dunes, dry lakes, flat valleys, extraordinarily rugged mountains, granitic monoliths, and oases.

Explore the desert scenery, granite monoliths (popular with rock climbers), petroglyphs from early Native Americans, old mines, and ranches.

The park provides an introduction to the variety and complexity of the desert environment and a vivid contrast between the higher Mojave and lower Sonoran deserts that range in elevation from 900 feet to 5,185 feet at Keys View. This outstanding scenic point overlooks a breathtaking expanse of valley, mountain, and desert.

The slow-growing Joshua tree, which graces much of the park’s desert ecosystem, is probably the most famous resident of the park. Named by Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-1800s, the tree’s unusual shape reminded them of the Bible story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer.

Worth Pondering…

In the words of Willie Nelson, “goin’ places I have never been, seein’ things that I may never see again”, exploring our magnificent country, its natural beauty, historic sites, and treasured landmarks.

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