national parks and monuments

national parks and monuments

national parks and monuments. The National Park Service, a bureau of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, was established in 1916 to oversee the administration of 40 national parks and monuments under the charge of the department. The National Park System now comprises some 380 areas of scenic, historic, or scientific interest totaling more than 84 million acres (34 million hectares). The units are classified into natural, historical, recreational, and cultural groupings to facilitate park management and to identify areas by their prominent characteristics. The National Park Service has seven regional offices—in Anchorage, Alaska; Atlanta; Denver; Philadelphia; Omaha, Nebr.; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C. Instructed by an act of Congress to "conserve the natural and historic objects in such manner as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations," the National Park Service has varied responsibilities, directing a wide program of construction in addition to educational and protective work.

Congress laid the foundation of the National Park System in 1872 when it established Yellowstone National Park. It then accelerated expansion of the system in 1906 with the passage of the Antiquities Act, which permitted the president to proclaim national historic landmarks, structures, and "other objects of historic and scientific interest" on federal lands. The authority created by this act has been used by presidents to establish more than 100 national monuments, some of which have since been designated by Congress as national parks. Until 1925, when an act was passed authorizing acceptance of donated land, nearly all of the National Park System was carved from public lands. In 1933 the National Park Service was given trusteeship over areas previously under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture and War depts. Congress has since authorized the preservation of significant historic sites and the establishment of national memorials, national historical parks, national parkways, national lakeshores and seashores, national recreation areas, national military parks and battlefields, national rivers and wild and scenic riverways, national scenic and historic trails, and national preserves. Not all of these areas are managed by the National Park Service, however; some national monuments, for example, are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (see Interior, U.S. Department of the). See the National Parks and Monuments table. See also National Forest System; National Marine Sanctuary Program; wilderness; wildlife refuge.

See publications of the U.S. National Park Service; J. Muir, Our National Parks (1901, repr. 1988); F. E. Allen, Guide to the National Parks of America (1992).

National Parks

NameType1LocationYear authorizedSize
acres (hectares)
AcadiaNPSE Maine191948,419 (19,603)Mountain and coast scenery.
American SamoaNPAmerican Samoa19889,000 (3,645)Two rain forest preserves and a coral reef.
ArchesNPE Utah192976,519 (30,979)Giant arches formed by erosion; designated a national park in 1971.
BadlandsNPSW S.Dak.1929242,756 (98,316)Gullies, ridges, and other erosional landforms; fossils. See badlands.
Big BendNPW Tex.1935801,163 (324,471)Canyons and desert plain on the Rio Grande; Chisos Mts. Designated a national park in 1944.
BiscayneNPSE Fla.1968172,924 (70,010)Aquatic park encompassing 25 islands. Example of a living coral reef; includes part of Biscayne Bay. Enlarged and designated a national park in 1980.
Black Canyon of the GunnisonNPW Colo.193330,300 (12,272)Deep, narrow canyon of the Gunnison River, named for its dark-colored walls, which are always in shadow; designated a national park in 1999.
Bryce CanyonNPSW Utah192435,835 (14,513)Canyon with colored walls and rock formations.
CanyonlandsNPSE Utah1964337,598 (136,679)Rocks, spires, and mesas; Native American rock art and ruins.
Capitol ReefNPS Utah1937241,904 (97,971)Highly colored sandstone cliffs dissected by gorges; named for a white, dome-shaped rock.
Carlsbad CavernsNPSE N.Mex.192346,766 (18,940)Great limestone caverns. Designated a national park in 1930.
Channel IslandsNPSW Calif.1938249,354 (100,988)Part of the Santa Barbara Islands. Nesting sea birds, sea lions, and unique plants.
Crater LakeNPSW Oreg.1902183,224 (74,206)Blue lake in a volcanic crater.
CongareeNPCentral S.C.197621,888 (8,862)Last significant tract of southern bottomland hardwood forest in the United States.
Death ValleyNPSE Calif., SW Nev.19333,367,628 (1,363,412)Lowest point in Western Hemisphere; desert environment.
DenaliPPS Alaska19176,075,690 (2,459,794)Contains Mt. McKinley (Denali), North America's highest mountain; wildlife preserve.
Dry TortugasNPS Fla.193564,701 (26,195)Contains Fort Jefferson, the largest all-masonry fort in the Western Hemisphere, built 1846. See Dry Tortugas.
EvergladesPES Fla.19341,508,580 (610,761)Subtropical wilderness with prairies, mangroves, great variety of birds. See Everglades.
Gates of the ArcticPPN Alaska19788,472,527 (3,430,173)Vast wilderness within the Arctic Circle.
GlacierNPNW Mont.19101,013,572 (410,497)Glaciers, forests, and lakes; on the Continental Divide.
Glacier BayPPSE Alaska19253,283,246 (1,329,249)Glaciers, ice displays.
Grand CanyonNPNW Ariz.19081,217,403 (492,876)Great gorge of the Colorado River. See Grand Canyon.
Grand TetonNPNW Wyo.1929309,993 (125,503)Scenic portion of the Teton Range; Jackson Hole.
Great BasinNPNev.198677,180 (31,258)Features Lehman Caves, an ice field on Wheeler Peak, ancient bristlecone pines, and a limestone arch. See Great Basin.
Great Sand DunesPPS Colo.193284,670 (34,257)Large, high sand dunes in the Sangre de Cristo Mts.
Great Smoky MountainsNPN.C., Tenn.1926521,621 (211,183)Wild, beautiful area in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Guadalupe MountainsNPW Tex.196686,416 (34,998)Mountain region; contains a limestone fossil reef.
HaleakalaNPMaui Island, Hawaii191629,824 (12,074)Haleakala crater; rare and endangered species.
Hawaii VolcanoesNPHawaii Island, Hawaii1916209,695 (84,926)Volcanic region; lush vegetation.
Hot SpringsNPW central Ark.19215,549 (2,247)Mineral springs.
Isle RoyaleNPNW Mich.1931571,790 (231,575)Forested island in Lake Superior.
Joshua TreeNPS Calif.19361,022,703 (414,050)Rare Joshua trees, or "praying plants"; named by Mormons because of upstretched arms.
KatmaiPPSE Alaska19184,093,229 (1,657,178)Deep forest with lakes and active volcanoes.
Kenai FjordsNPS Alaska1978669,983 (271,248)Wilderness preserve, vast ice fields, fjords, and outflowing glaciers.
Kings CanyonNPE central Calif.1890461,901 (187,070)Canyons, peaks, sequoias.
Kobuk ValleyNPNW Alaska19781,750,737 (709,048)A wildlife preserve north of the Arctic Circle; archaeological remnants of 10,000 years of human habitation.
Lake ClarkPPS Alaska19784,030,058 (1,631,602)Waterfalls, tundra, and active volcanoes.
Lassen VolcanicNPN Calif.1907106,372 (43,081)Volcanic peaks and lava formations.
Mammoth CaveNPCentral Ky.192652,830 (21,396)Longest recorded cave system in the world.
Mesa VerdeNPSW Colo.190652,122 (21,109)Prehistoric cliff dwellings.
Mount RainierNPSW Wash.1899235,625 (95,395)Volcanic peak and glaciers; subalpine meadows.
North CascadesNPN Wash.1968504,781 (204,436)Area of noted alpine scenery in the Cascade Range; bisected by Ross Lake National Recreation Area.
OlympicNPNW Wash.1909922,651 (373,674)Rain forests and glaciers in the Olympic Mountains.
Petrified ForestNPE Ariz.190693,533 (37,881)Petrified logs; portions of the Painted Desert.
RedwoodNPNW Calif.1968112,430 (45,518)Coastal redwood forests.
Rocky MountainNPCentral Colo.1915265,723 (107,580)Scenic Rocky Mountains region on the Continental Divide; many high, snowcapped peaks.
SaguaroNPSE Ariz.193391,443 (37,021)Saguaro, other cacti, varied desert growth.
SequoiaNPE Calif.1890402,510 (162,960)Groves of giant sequoias.
ShenandoahNPN Va.1926198,081 (80,195)Forested region of the Blue Ridge Mts.
Theodore RooseveltNPW N.Dak.194770,447 (28,531)Part of Roosevelt's Elkhorn Ranch; badlands along the Little Missouri River.
Virgin IslandsNPVirgin Islands, on St. John195614,689 (5,949)Unusual scenery, marine life, coral gardens; ruins of Danish colonial sugar plantations.
VoyageursNPN Minn.1971218,200 (88,340)Scenic northern lakes region; interesting glacial features and history.
Wind CaveNPSW S.Dak.190328,295 (11,459)Limestone caverns in the Black Hills.
Wrangell-St. EliasPPSW Alaska197813,176,371 (5,334,563)Largest unit in the National Park System; numerous peaks over 16,000 ft (4,900 m), abundant wildlife.
YellowstoneNPWyo., Mont., Idaho18722,219,791 (899,015)Geysers and hot springs, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone; first national park.
YosemiteNPE Central Calif.1890761,266 (308,205)Mountain region with Yosemite Valley.
ZionNPSW Utah1909146,592 (59,349)Multicolored canyon in a desert region.

National Monuments

NameType1LocationYear authorizedSize
acres (hectares)
Agate Fossil BedsMONW Nebr.19653,055 (1,237)World-famous quarries containing numerous well-preserved Miocene mammal fossils; museum of Native American artifacts.
Agua FriaMOCentral Ariz.200071,100 (28,796)A Native American settlement system dating to A.D. 1250-1450, spread over two mesas and the Agua Fria River canyon; more than 450 sites with pueblos, stone forts, and petroglyphs.
Alibates Flint QuarriesMONW Tex.19651,371 (555)Flint quarries, first worked by Native Americans c.10,000 years ago; rich archaeological and historic area.
AniakchakMRSW Alaska1978602,779 (244,040)Volcano; wilderness and wildlife preserve.
Aztec RuinsMONW N.Mex.1923319 (129)Ruins of a Pueblo town.
BandelierMON N.Mex.191633,677 (13,634)Ruins of 13th-century Pueblo cliff dwellings.
Booker T. WashingtonMOCentral Va.1956224 (91)Birthplace and childhood home of Booker T. Washington.
Buck Island ReefMOVirgin Islands, on Buck Island1961880 (356)One of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean; bird rookeries and grottoes.
CabrilloMOSW Calif.1913137 (55)Memorial to Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo.
California Coastal Rocks and IslandsMOW Calif.2000Thousands of islands, rocks, and reefs within 12 mi (19 km) of California's 840-mi (1,350-km) coastline; includes nesting grounds of seabirds and marine mammals.
Canyon de ChellyMONE Ariz.193183,840 (33,955)Ruins of prehistoric Native American villages.
Canyons of the AncientsMOSW Colo.2000164,000 (66,420)Rugged landscape that is archaeologically rich, with some sites dating to 10,000 years ago; later pit houses, cliff dwellings, and pueblos.
Cape KrusensternMOAlaska1978649,182 (262,828)Archaeological sites of indigenous communities dating back 4,000 years.
Capulin VolcanoMONE N.Mex.1916793 (321)Huge cinder cone of inactive volcano.
Carrizo PlainMOW central Calif.2001204,000 (82,560)Grasslands and wetlands, including akali Soda Lake, in Central Valley. Home to threatened or endangered species.
Casa GrandeMOS Ariz.1892473 (191)Huge building built c.600 years ago, in the ruins of a Native American pueblo.
Cascade-SiskiyouMOS central Oregon200052,000 (21,060)A biologically diverse and ecologically unique area that also includes Soda Mountain, Pilot Rock, and Siskiyou Pass.
Castillo de San MarcosMONE Fla.192420 (8)Old Spanish masonry fort in Saint Augustine, Fla.
Castle ClintonMOSE N.Y.19461 (.4)See Battery, the.
Cedar BreaksMOSW Utah19336,155 (2,493)Amphitheater (2,000 ft/610 m deep) formed by erosion.
ChiricahuaMOSE Ariz.192411,985 (4,854)Odd-shaped rock formations.
ColoradoMOW Colo.191120,534 (8,313)Huge monoliths and other unusual erosional features.
Craters of the MoonMOS Idaho192453,440 (21,636)Volcanic cones, craters, fissures, lava flows.
Devils PostpileMOE Calif.1911798 (323)Basaltic columns, some 60 ft (18 m) high.
Devils TowerMONE Wyo.19061,347 (546)Volcanic rock tower; first national monument.
DinosaurMOColo., Utah1915210,278 (85,133)Rich quarries of well-preserved fossils.
Effigy MoundsMONE Iowa19491,481 (600)Outstanding examples of prehistoric Native American mounds.
El MalpaisMON.Mex.1987114,277 (46,282)In English, "the badlands"; volcanic area; also rich in Pueblo history.
El MorroMOW N.Mex.19061,279 (518)Sandstone monolith with inscriptions of Spanish explorers and American pioneers.
Florissant Fossil BedsMOCentral Colo.19695,998 (2,429)Well-preserved insect, seed, and leaf fossils of the Oligocene period; petrified sequoia tree stumps.
Fort FredericaMOSE Ga.1936241 (98)Ruins of a fort built by James Oglethorpe on one of the Sea Islands.
Fort McHenryMON Md.192543 (17)See Fort McHenry.
Fort MatanzasMONE Fla.1924228 (92)Spanish fort in Saint Augustine, Fla.
Fort PulaskiMOSE Ga.19245,623 (2,277)Fort on Cockspur Island. See Fort Pulaski.
Fort StanwixMOCentral N.Y.193516 (6)See Fort Stanwix.
Fort SumterMOSE S.C.1948195 (79)Scene of the engagement that opened the Civil War. See Fort Sumter.
Fort UnionMONW N.Mex.1954721 (292)Ruins of a U.S. army fort on the Santa Fe Trail.
Fossil ButteMOW Wyo.19728,198 (3,320)Area containing Paleocene-Eocene fossil fish.
George Washington BirthplaceMOE Va.1930627 (254)Estate and reconstructed mansion. See Wakefield.
George Washington CarverMOSW Mo.1943210 (85)Birthplace and boyhood home of George Washington Carver.
Giant SequoiaMOE Calif.2000328,000 (132,742)Last remaining 34 groves of ancient sequoia trees within Sequoia National Forest.
Gila Cliff DwellingsMOSW N.Mex.1907533 (216)Well-preserved dwellings built by the Pueblo into a 150-ft (46-m) cliff.
Governors IslandMOSE N.Y.200322 (9)Early 1800s fortifications in New York harbor and their surroundings.
Grand Canyon-ParashantMONW Ariz.20001,014,000 (410,670)Canyons, mountains, and buttes on the W portion of the Grand Canyon's north rim. Prehistoric and 19th-century remains; rare condors and tortoises.
Grand PortageMONE Minn.1951710 (288)9-mi (14-km) portage on the route to the Northwest used by explorers, missionaries, and fur traders.
Grand Staircase-EscalanteMOS Utah19961,700,000 (688,000)Rock formations; natural arches and bridges; prehistoric dwellings and rock art; fossil sites.
Hagerman Fossil BedsMOS Idaho19884,351 (1,762)Fossils dating from the Pliocene era.
Hanford ReachMOS central Wash.2000195,000 (78,975)Free-flowing nontidal stretch of the Columbia River with salmon spawing grounds and the shrub-steppe ecosystem originally typical of the river basin.
Hohokam PimaMOCentral Ariz.19721,690 (684)Archaeological remains of the Hohokam culture.
HomesteadMOSE Nebr.1936195 (79)Site of the first farm claimed under the Homestead Act.
HovenweepMOUtah, Colo.1923785 (318)Prehistoric Native American pueblos and cliff dwellings.
Ironwood ForestMOS Ariz.2000129,000 (52,245)Mountainous desert landscape with large stands of ironwood trees; saguaro forests and bighorn sheep; historic Hohokam sites.
Jewel CaveMOSW S.Dak.19081,274 (516)Limestone caves with chambers connected by narrow passages; in the Black Hills.
John Day Fossil BedsMON central Oregon197414,014 (5,676)Consists of Sheep Rock, Painted Hills, and Clarno locations. Its rich fossil remains extend over four prehistoric periods.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent RocksMON central N.Mex.20014,114 (1,665)Canyons, cliffs, and cone-shaped rock formations with nesting birds.
Lava BedsMON Calif.192546,560 (18,857)Examples of volcanism; scene of Modoc uprising.
Little Bighorn BattlefieldMOSE Mont.1879765 (310)Site of the battle between five companies of the Seventh Cavalry, commanded by George Armstrong Custer, and the Sioux and Cheyenne.
Minidoka InternmentMOS Idaho200173 (30)Site of a World War II internment camp for Japanese Americans. See relocation center.
Montezuma CastleMOCentral Ariz.1906858 (347)Well-preserved prehistoric cliff dwellings.
Muir WoodsMOW Calif.1908554 (224)Virgin stand of coastal redwoods.
Natural BridgesMOSE Utah19087,636 (3,093)Three huge natural sandstone bridges.
NavajoMONE Ariz.1909360 (146)Ruins of large cliff dwellings.
NewberryMOCentral Oregon199050,500 (20,453)Caldera of a 500 sq mi (1,300 sq km) volcano, with lava flows, cinder cones, and the Lava Cast Forest.
OcmulgeeMOCentral Ga.1934702 (284)Remains of prehistoric temple mounds.
Oregon CavesMOSW Oreg.1909488 (198)Limestone caverns with four levels; rock formations.
Organ Pipe CactusMOS Ariz.1937330,689 (133,929)Unique Sonoran Desert plants and animals.
PetroglyphMON.Mex.19907,232 (2,928)More than 15,000 prehistoric and historic Native American and Hispanic petroglyphs and rock art carvings.
PinnaclesMOW Calif.190824,265 (9,827)Rock spires from 500 to 1,200 ft (150 to 365 m) high; caves.
Pipe SpringMONW Ariz.192340 (16)Spring first visited by the Mormons; old fort.
PipestoneMOSW Minn.1937282 (114)Quarry that was a source for Native American peace pipes; park includes Upper Midwest Indian Cultural Center.
Pompeys PillarMOS central Mont.200151 (21)Large sandstone butte on Yellowstone River with inscription by William Clark.
Poverty PointMONE La.1988911 (369)Remains of a 2d millenium B.C. culture.
President Lincoln and Soldier's HomeMOWashington, D.C.20002.3 (.9)Historic Anderson Cottage, used as a summer retreat by Lincoln and other presidents.
Rainbow BridgeMOS Utah1910160 (65)Pink sandstone arch.
Russell CaveMONE Ala.1961310 (126)Cave containing a nearly continuous archaeological record of human habitation from about 7000 B.C. to A.D. 1650.
Salinas Pueblo MissionsMOCentral N.Mex.19091,071 (434)Four 17th-century mission churches and ruins of three Pueblo villages.
Scotts BluffMOW Nebr.19193,003 (1,216)Landmark on the Oregon Trail.
Sonoran DesertMOSW Ariz.2001486,000 (196,684)Biologically diverse desert with mountain ranges and lowland valleys. Historical and archaeological remains.
Statue of LibertyMOSE N.Y.192458 (23)See Liberty, Statue of.
Sunset Crater VolcanoMON Ariz.19303,040 (1,231)Volcanic cinder cone with multicolored crater.
Timpanogos CaveMON Utah1922250 (101)Limestone cavern on Mt. Timpanogos.
TontoMOCentral Ariz.19071,120 (454)Well-preserved 14th-century cliff dwellings built by Native Americans in the Salt River valley.
TuzigootMOCentral Ariz.1939801 (324)Excavated ruins of a large Native American pueblo.
Upper Missouri River BreaksMON central Mont.2001377,346 (152,825)Rugged, remote ecosystem paralleling the Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River; explored by Lewis and Clark.
U.S. Virgin Islands Coral ReefMOVirgin Islands, off St. John200112,000 (4,856)Mangroves, sea grass beds, and coral reefs, home to many sea animals and birds.
Vermilion CliffsMON Ariz.2000293,000 (118,577)Remote cliffs, plateaus, canyons, and desert grasslands; fossilized dinosaur footprints.
Walnut CanyonMON Ariz.19153,579 (1,449)12th-century Sinagua cliff dwellings.
White SandsMOS N.Mex.1933143,733 (58,212)Wind-drifted gypsum sands.
WupatkiMON Ariz.192435,422 (14,341)Several prehistoric pueblos.
Yucca HouseMOSW Colo.191934 (14)Unexcavated ruins of a prehistoric Native American village.

National and International Historic Sites and Historical Parks

NameType1LocationYear authorizedSize
acres (hectares)
Abraham Lincoln BirthplaceHSCentral Ky.1916117 (47)Traditional birthplace cabin in memorial building on site of Lincoln's birthplace.
AdamsHPE Mass.194614 (6)Home of Presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and other members of the family.
Allegheny Portage RailroadHSSW Pa.19641,249 (506)Inclined-plane railroad that lifted passengers and cargoes of boats on the Pennsylvania Canal over the Allegheny Mts.
AndersonvilleHSSW Ga.1970495 (200)Civil War prison camp and national prisoner of war memorial. See under Andersonville.
Andrew JohnsonHSNE Tenn.193517 (7)Home, shop, and grave of President Andrew Johnson; site includes Andrew Johnson National Cemetery.
Appomattox Court HouseHPS central Va.19301,775 (719)Site of Lee's surrender to Grant. See under Appomattox, Va.
Bent's Old FortHSSE Colo.1960799 (323)Fur-trading post and rest station on the Santa Fe Trail; built c.1830 by Charles Bent and William Bent. See Bent's Fort.
BostonHPE Mass.197441 (17)Many sites include Old South Meeting House, the home of Paul Revere, obelisk commemorating the Battle of Bunker Hill, and part of the Charlestown Navy Yard.
Boston African AmericanHSE Mass.1980.38 (.15)Site features oldest African-American church in the United States and the Black Heritage Trail.
Brown v. Board of EducationHSNE Kansas19922 (.8)See Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans.
Cane River CreoleHPSE La.1994207 (84)Plantations and other sites associated with the development of creole culture.
Carl Sandburg HomeHSSW N.C.1968264 (107)Farm home of author Carl Sandburg.
Chaco CultureHPNW N.Mex.190733,974 (13,759)13 pre-Columbian ruins of the Anasazi. Ruins representing the highest point of Pueblo prehistoric civilization (A.D. 900-1000).
Charles PinckneyHSSE S.C.198828 (11)Home and estate of American diplomat and framer of the Constitution.
Chesapeake and Ohio CanalHPD.C., Md., W.Va.193819,236 (7,791)See Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Proclaimed a national monument in 1961, a national historical park in 1971.
ChristianstedHSVirgin Islands, on St. Croix195227 (11)Commemorates the Virgin Islands' colonial development, especially under Danish rule in the 18th and 19th cent.
Clara BartonHSS Md.19749 (4)Home and offices of the founder of the American Red Cross.
ColonialHPSE Va.19309,350 (3,785)Historic Yorktown, Jamestown, and Cape Henry. Colonial Parkway connects some sites with Williamsburg.
Cumberland GapHPKy., Tenn., Va.194020,454 (8,281)Mountain pass of the Wilderness Road. See Cumberland Gap.
Dayton Aviation HeritageHPW Ohio199286 (35)Site honors life and work of the Wright brothers, as well as poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Edgar Allan PoeHSSE Pa.1978.52 (.21)In 1843, Poe lived here and wrote several of his most famous stories.
EdisonHSNE N.J.196221 (9)Buildings and equipment used by Thomas A. Edison.
EisenhowerHSS Pa.1969690 (279)Home and farm of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Eleanor RooseveltHSS N.Y.1977181 (73)Her personal retreat including two restored buildings, tennis court, rose garden, and playhouse.
Eugene O'NeillHSN Calif.197613 (5)Restored home of the playwright.
Ford's TheatreHSWashington, D.C.1970.29 (.12)Site of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination and death; includes the Lincoln Museum.
Fort BowieHSSE Ariz.19641,000 (405)Ruins of a fort (est. 1862) that was the base of military operations against Geronimo and his followers.
Fort DavisHSW Tex.1961474 (192)Key post in the defensive system of W Texas, guarding (1854-91) the San Antonio-El Paso road through the Davis Mts.
Fort LaramieHSSE Wyo.1938833 (337)Buildings of an old fort on the Oregon Trail.
Fort LarnedHSCentral Kansas1964718 (291)Protected the Santa Fe Trail; served as a military base during the Plains War (1860s) and later as an Indian Bureau administrative center.
Fort PointHSW Calif.197029 (12)Brick and granite mid-19th-century coastal fortification.
Fort RaleighHSNE N.C.1941513 (208)Site of the first attempted settlement by the English in North America. See Roanoke Island.
Fort ScottHSSE Kansas196517 (7)Commemorates historic events in Kansas prior to and during the Civil War.
Fort SmithHSNW Ark.196175 (30)One of the first U.S. military posts in the Louisiana Purchase; maintained law and order in the Oklahoma Territory. See Fort Smith, Ark.
Fort Union Trading PostHSN.Dak., Mont.1966442 (179)American Fur Company trading post during the 19th cent.
Fort VancouverHSSW Wash.1948209 (85)Site of a Hudson's Bay Company post (1825-49) and later of a U.S. army fort.
Frederick DouglassHSWashington, D.C.19629 (4)Home of the abolitionist and writer; contains original furnishings, photographs, lithographs, and his library.
Frederick Law OlmstedHSE Mass.19797 (2.8)Site of Olmsted's home and business containing lithographs and original furnishings.
Friendship HillHSSW Pa.1978675 (273)Home of Albert Gallatin, U.S. secretary of the treasury under Presidents Jefferson and Madison.
George Rogers ClarkHPSW Ind.196626 (11)Memorial near the site of old Fort Sackville, seized from the British by General G. R. Clark in 1779.
Golden SpikeHSN Utah19572,735 (1,108)Site where the Union Pacific RR and the Central Pacific RR joined to form the first transcontinental railroad.
Grant-Kohrs RanchHSW Mont.19721,618 (655)Headquarters of one of the largest 19th-century range ranches.
HamptonHSNE Md.194862 (25)Late-18th-century Georgian mansion.
Harpers FerryHPMd., W.Va.19442,343 (949)See Harpers Ferry.
Harry S. TrumanHSMo.19837 (3)Home of Harry S. Truman from 1919 until 1972.
Herbert HooverHSE Iowa1965187 (76)Birthplace, childhood home, and burial place of President Herbert Hoover.
Home of Franklin D. RooseveltHSSE N.Y.1944349 (141)Home, "Summer White House," and burial place of Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt. See Hyde Park.
Hopewell CultureHPS Ohio19231,245 (504)Prehistoric burial mounds of Hopewell people.
Hopewell FurnaceHSSE Pa.1938848 (343)19th-century iron-making site with reconstructed buildings and furnished cottages.
Hubbell Trading PostHSNE Ariz.1965160 (65)Example of a late-19th-century trading post in the Southwest.
IndependenceHPSE Pa.194845 (18)Historic points of interest and the Liberty Bell; site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. See Independence Hall.
James A. GarfieldHSNE Ohio19808 (3)Home of the 20th president and site of the first presidential memorial library.
Jean LafitteHPSE La.193920,020 (8,108)Includes New Orleans' French Quarter, the Chalmette Battlefield, and the Barataria and Acadian units.
Jimmy CarterHSSW Georgia198771 (29)Buildings and exhibits associated with the 39th president's life.
John Fitzgerald KennedyHSE Mass.1967.09 (.04)Birthplace and early boyhood home of President John F. Kennedy.
John MuirHSW Calif.1964345 (140)John Muir House and Martínez Adobe, commemorating contributions of John Muir to conservation and literature.
KalaupapaHPN Molokai Island, Hawaii198010,779 (4,365)Site of former leper colony separated from the island by 2,000-ft (610-m) cliff; there are ruins of 300 Hawaiian structures.
Kaloko-HonokohauHPHawaii Island, Hawaii19781,161 (470)Site of important pre-European settlements.
KeweenawHPNW Mich.19921,870 (757)Preserves features relevant to the first significant copper mining in the United States.
Klondike Gold RushHPSW Alaska, NW Wa.197613,191 (5,342)Sites connected with the 1898 Klondike gold rush including Seattle's Pioneer Square, the miners' point of departure.
Knife River Indian VillagesHSCentral N.Dak.19741,758 (712)Ruins of villages of Hidasta and Mandan Native Americans.
Lewis and ClarkHPNW Oreg., SW Wash.19581,481 (599)Fort Clatsop, site of the winter encampment of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and other sites associated with it. Jointly managed with nearby state historical parks.
Lincoln HomeHSCentral Ill.197112 (5)Only private home owned by Abraham Lincoln; he was living there when he was elected president.
Little Rock Central High SchoolHSCentral Ark.199818 (7)Site commemorating the "Little Rock Nine" and the fight for desegregation in the schools.
LongfellowHSE Mass.19722 (.8)Home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1837-82) in Cambridge; also George Washington's headquarters during the siege of Boston (1775-76).
LowellHPNE Mass.1978141 (57)Restored site of cotton mill traces the history of the Industrial Revolution.
Lyndon B. JohnsonHPSE Tex.19691,570 (636)Sites of the birthplace, boyhood home, and ranch of President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Maggie L. WalkerHSE Central Va.19781 (.4)Home of African-American bank president and early leader in the women's movement.
ManzanarHSE Calif.1992814 (330)Site of World War II internment of Japanese Americans. See relocation center.
Marsh-BillingsHPVt.1992643 (260)Home of pioneer conservationist George Perkins Marsh.
Martin Luther King, Jr.HSN Ga.198039 (16)Birthplace, church, and grave of the civil-rights leader.
Martin Van BurenHSSE N.Y.197440 (16)Home of the 8th president.
Mary McLeod Bethune Council HouseHSWashington, D.C.1982.07 (.03)Home and political headquarters of the educator and activist; the carriage house contains the Bethune Archives.
Minute ManHPE Mass.1959965 (391)Scene of fighting on the opening day of the Revolutionary War; includes North Bridge, Minute Man statue, Battle Road (see Lexington and Concord, battles of), and the home of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
MorristownHPN N.J.19331,698 (687)Site of military encampments during the Revolution; Washington's headquarters, 1779-80.
NatchezHPSW Miss.1988108 (44)Melrose plantation and other antebellum buildings.
New Bedford WhalingHPSE Mass.199634 (14)Commemorates the whaling heritage of New Bedford; includes a whaling museum.
New Orleans JazzHPSE La.1994Preserves and interprets jazz as it has evolved in New Orleans.
Nez PercéHPIdaho, Mont., Oreg., Wash.19652,123 (860)38 sites that preserve and commemorate the history and culture of the Nez Percé.
NicodemusHSNW Kansas1996161 (65)Site of town established by African Americans during Reconstruction.
Ninety SixHSNW S.C.1976989 (401)A frontier trading post and Revolutionary War stronghold.
Palo Alto BattlefieldHSS Tex.19783,357 (1,360)Site of the first major battle of the Mexican War.
PecosHPN N.Mex.19656,671 (2,702)15th-century ruins of Pecos Pueblo, once the largest Native American settlement in the Southwest.
Pennsylvania AvenueHSWashington, D.C.1965Portion of Pennsylvania Ave. and adjacent area between the Capitol and the White House.
Pu'uhonua o HonaunauHPSW Hawaii Island, Hawaii1955182 (74)Ancient Hawaiian sanctuary and royal residence.
Puukohola HeiauHSHawaii Island, Hawaii197286 (35)Ruins of temple built (1791) by King Kamehameha the Great.
Sagamore HillHSSE N.Y.196283 (34)Estate and Victorian-style home of President Theodore Roosevelt.
Saint Croix IslandISE Maine194945 (18)Commemorates the French settlement on the island in the Saint Croix River.
Saint-GaudensHSW N.H.1964148 (60)Memorial to the American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens; contains his home studios, gardens.
Saint Paul's ChurchHSSE N.Y.19436 (2)18th-century church associated with the events leading to the arrest of John Peter Zenger; includes Bill of Rights museum.
Salem MaritimeHSNE Mass.19389 (4)Wharves and buildings important during Salem's seafaring days.
Salt River BayHPVirgin Islands, on St. Croix1992945 (383)Fort Sale; upland watersheds, mangrove forests, estuarine and marine environments.
San Antonio MissionsHPS central Tex.1978819 (332)Four missions situated on the San Antonio River; important examples of Spanish cultural influence.
San Francisco MaritimeHPN Calif.198850 (20)Largest collection of historic ships in the United States; exhibits on maritime history.
San JuanHSNE Puerto Rico194975 (30)Oldest fortification within the limits of U.S. territory, built (16th cent.) by the Spanish to protect the harbor guarding the sea lanes to the New World.
San Juan IslandHPNW Wash.19661,752 (710)Dedicated to the peaceful relationship between the United States, Britain, and Canada since the San Juan Boundary Dispute.
SaratogaHPE N.Y.19383,392 (1,373)Scene of a famous battle in the American Revolution. See Saratoga campaign.
Saugus Iron WorksHSE Mass.19689 (4)Reconstruction of the 17th-century Colonial ironworks.
SitkaHPSE Alaska1910107 (43)Site of the Tlingit peoples' defeat by Russian settlers in 1804. See Sitka.
Springfield ArmoryHSMass.197455 (22)Large weapons museum housed in former arsenal.
SteamtownHSNE Pa.198662 (25)A railyard containing America's largest collection of steam-era locomotives and railroad cars.
Theodore Roosevelt BirthplaceHSSE N.Y.1962.11 (.04)Birthplace and boyhood home of President Theodore Roosevelt.
Theodore Roosevelt InauguralHSW N.Y.19661 (.4)Ansley Wilcox House, where Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office (1901) as president.
Thomas StoneHSS Md.1978328 (133)Georgian-style home, Habre-de-Ventre, of a signatory of the Declaration of Independence.
TumacacoriHPS Ariz.190846 (19)Mission founded by Father Eusebio F. Kino; rebuilt by the Franciscans.
Tuskegee AirmenHSSE Ala.199990 (36)Site commemorating the African-American Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.
Tuskegee InstituteHSS Ala.197458 (23)First institution of higher learning for the vocational training of African Americans; founded in 1881.
Ulysses S. GrantHSMissouri198910 (4)Pre-Civil War home of Ulysses S. Grant.
Valley ForgeHPSE Pa.19763,466 (1,404)Soldiers' huts and preserved buildings re-create the 1777-78 encampment of the Continental Army.
Vanderbilt MansionHSE N.Y.1940212 (86)19th-century palatial Victorian residence of a grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt.
War in the PacificHPCentral Guam19782,031 (822)Artifacts of World War II in the Pacific theater.
Washita BattlefieldHSOkla.1848315 (128)Site of a Southern Cheyenne village attacked by General Custer on Nov. 27, 1868.
Weir FarmHSConn.199074 (30)Home and studio of the American impressionist painter J. Alden Weir.
Whitman MissionHSSW Wash.193698 (40)Site of the mission of Dr. Marcus Whitman.
William Howard TaftHSSW Ohio19693 (1)Birthplace and early home of President William Howard Taft.
Women's RightsHPW N.Y.19806 (2)Includes Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, site of first women's rights convention (1848), and the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

National Memorials

NameType1LocationYear authorizedSize
acres (hectares)
Arkansas PostMMSE Ark.1960747 (302)Site of the first permanent French settlement in the lower Mississippi valley. See Arkansas Post.
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee MemorialMMNE Va.192528 (11)Former home of the Custis and Lee families; memorial to Robert E. Lee.
ChamizalMMW Tex.196655 (22)Memorializes the peaceful settlement of the 99-year border dispute between the United States and Mexico.
CoronadoMMSE Ariz.19524,750 (1,924)Area near Francisco Vásquez de Coronado's point of entry (1540) into the United States.
De SotoMMW Fla.194827 (11)Commemorates the landing (1539) of Hernando De Soto in Florida and his exploration of the S United States.
Federal HallMMSE N.Y.1939.45 (.18)Site of the first seat of the federal government and George Washington's inauguration (1789).
Fort CarolineMMNE Fla.1950138 (56)Area overlooking the site of Fort Caroline.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt MemorialMMWashington, D.C.19978 (3)Monument to Roosevelt on the Mall in the nation's capital.
General GrantMMSE N.Y.1958.76 (.31)Tomb of President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia.
Hamilton GrangeMMSE N.Y.1962.11 (.04)Home of Alexander Hamilton.
Jefferson National Expansion MemorialMME Mo.1935193 (78)Area commemorating westward exploration and settlement; includes Gateway Arch. See Saint Louis, Mo.
Johnstown FloodMMSE Pa.1964164 (66)Memorializes the Johnstown flood of 1889. See Johnstown, Pa.
Korean War Veterans MemorialMMWashington, D.C.19862 (.8)Grouping of 19 infantry soldiers standing before a polished granite wall.
Lincoln BoyhoodMMSW Ind.1962200 (81)Site of the farm where Abraham Lincoln was raised and the burial place of his mother, Mary Hanks Lincoln.
Lincoln MemorialMMWashington, D.C.1911107 (45)See Lincoln Memorial.
Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove on the PotomacMMNE Va.197317 (7)Grove of 500 white pines overlooking Potomac River vista of the capital.
Mount RushmoreMMSW S.Dak.19251,278 (518)Carvings of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt on the granite face of Mt. Rushmore.
Oklahoma CityMMOkla.19976 (2)Site honoring the rescuers and victims killed in the Apr. 19, 1995, bombing of the Federal Building.
Perry's Victory and International Peace MemorialMMN Ohio193625 (10)Scene of the victory near Put-in Bay of Oliver H. Perry in the War of 1812.
Roger WilliamsMME R.I.19655 (2)Memorial to Roger Williams, the founder of the Rhode Island colony and a pioneer of religious freedom.
Thaddeus KosciuszkoMMSE Pa.1972.02 (.01)Commemorates the life and work of Thaddeus Kosciusko.
Thomas JeffersonMMWashington, D.C.193418 (7)See Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
USS Arizona MemorialMMS Honolulu, Hawaii1980A memorial to American losses at Pearl Harbor.
Vietnam Veterans MemorialMMWashington, D.C.19802 (.8)See Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Washington MonumentMMWashington, D.C.1848106 (43)555-ft (169-m) high obelisk honoring Washington.
Wright BrothersMMNE N.C.1927428 (173)Scene of the first (1903) successful flight of the Wright brothers.

National Battlefields, Battlefield Parks, Battlefield Sites, and Military Parks

NameType1LocationYear authorizedSize
acres (hectares)
AntietamBFCentral Md.18903,223 (1,305)See Antietam campaign. Antietam (Sharpsburg) National Cemetery adjoins the park.
Big HoleBFSW Mont.1910656 (266)Scene of 1877 battle between U.S. troops and Nez Percé led by Chief Joseph.
Brices Cross RoadsBSNE Miss.19291 (.4)Site of a rout of Union troops by Confederate cavalry under General N. B. Forrest (June 10, 1864).
Chickamauga and ChattanoogaMPGa., Tenn.18908,129 (3,291)Civil War battle sites; first national military park.
CowpensBFNW S.C.1929932 (377)Site of an American militia victory over British infantry and cavalry forces in the Revolutionary War battle of Cowpens (Jan. 17, 1781).
Fort DonelsonBFNW Tenn.1928552 (224)Site of first Union Army victory; Civil War cemetery.
Fort NecessityBFSW Pa.1931903 (366)George Washington's troops defeated here in 1754.
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields MemorialMPNE Va.19277,924 (3,208)Contains portions of four major Civil War battlefields (see Fredericksburg, battle of) and a national cemetery.
GettysburgMPS Pa.18955,984 (2,423)Civil War battlefield and cemetery; site of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. See Gettysburg, Pa.
Guilford CourthouseMPN N.C.1917223 (90)See Guilford Courthouse, battle of.
Horseshoe BendMPE Ala.19562,040 (826)See Horseshoe Bend.
Kennesaw MountainBPNW Ga.19172,884 (1,168)Site of Sherman's attack on the Confederate forces in the Atlanta campaign.
Kings MountainMPN S.C.19313,945 (1,598)Site of a crucial American victory (Oct. 7, 1780) over the British during the Revolution.
ManassasBPNE Va.19405,072 (2,054)See Bull Run.
MonocacyBFW Md.19761,647 (667)Site commemorates the first successful defense of Washington, D.C. during the Civil War.
Moores CreekBFSE N.C.192688 (36)Site of a battle between Patriots and Loyalists.
Pea RidgeMPNW Ark.19564,300 (1,742)Site of the Civil War battle of Pea Ridge, which saved Missouri for the Union.
PetersburgBFSE Va.19262,659 (1,077)Scene of the Battle of the Crater and a 10-month Union campaign (1864-65) to seize Petersburg, Va.
RichmondBPE Va.19361,718 (696)Commemorates Civil War battles of Cold Harbor, Drewry's Bluff, Gaines Mill, Malvern Hill, and Beaver Dam Creek.
ShilohMPSW Tenn.18943,973 (1,609)Site of the Civil War battle of Shiloh. Shiloh National Cemetery is there.
Stones RiverBFCentral Tenn.1927713 (289)See Murfreesboro, Tenn. Site of Stones River National Cemetery.
TupeloBFNE Miss.19291 (.4)See Tupelo, Miss.
VicksburgMPW Miss.18991,740 (704)Site of the Vicksburg campaign of the Civil War and Vicksburg National Cemetery.
Wilson's CreekBFMissouri19601,750 (709)Site of first major Civil War engagement west of the Mississippi.

National Preserves and Reserves

NameType1LocationYear authorizedSize
acres (hectares)
Bering Land BridgePSNW Alaska19782,697,639 (1,092,162)Remnant of land bridge that connected Alaska with Asia.
Big CypressPAS Fla.1974720,570 (291,729)Subtropical plant and animal life; ancestral home of Seminole and Miccosukee peoples.
Big ThicketPSSE Tex.197497,191 (39,349)Large number of plant and animal species.
City of RocksNRIdaho198814,107 (5,711)Granite spires, sculptured rock formations.
Ebey's LandingNRWhidbey Island, Wash.197819,000 (7,695)Records exploration and settlement of Puget Sound.
Little River CanyonPSNE Ala.199213,633 (5,519)Rock expanses, benches, and bluffs; kayaking and rock climbing.
MojavePSS Calif.19941,508,045 (610,545)Dunes, cinder cones, historic mining scenes; protects fragile habitat of the desert tortoise.
NoatakPSAlaska19786,569,904 (2,660,811)Mountain-ringed river basin.
Tallgrass PrairiePSE Kansas199610,894 (4,411)Preserve protecting surviving remnant of the tallgrass ecosystem.
Timucan Ecological and Historic PreservePSFla.198846,019 (18,631)Atlantic coastal marshes, islands, tidal creeks.
Yukon-Charley RiversPSE central Alaska19782,526,512 (1,022,879)Peregrine falcons, 1898 Gold Rush relics.

National Recreation Areas

NameType1LocationYear authorizedSize
acres (hectares)
AmistadRAS Tex.196558,500 (23,693)U.S. part of Amistad Reservoir, on the Rio Grande.
Bighorn CanyonRAMont., Wyo.1966120,296 (48,720)Yellowtail Dam and spectacular Bighorn Canyon, on the Bighorn River.
Boston Harbor IslandsRAE Mass.19961,482 (600)More than 30 islands off the Greater Boston coast.
Chattahoochie RiverRAGeorgia19789,260 (3,750)Series of historic and recreational sites along the Chattahoochie River.
ChickasawRAS Okla.19769,889 (4,005)Mineral springs, streams, and lakes. Name honors Chickasaw Nation; combination of former Platt National Park and Arbuckle National Recreation Area.
CurecantiRAE Colo.196541,972 (16,993)Blue Mesa, Morrow Point, and Crystal reservoirs in the upper Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
Cuyahoga ValleyRANE Ohio197432,859 (13,303)Preserves rural character of Cuyahoga River Valley.
Delaware Water GapRAN.J., Pa.196566,756 (27,027)Scenic Delaware Water Gap.
GatewayRAN.Y., N.J.197226,610 (10,773)Beaches, marshes, islands, and waters in and around New York City. One of the first two national urban recreation areas.
Gauley RiverRAW Va.198811,342 (4,592)Passes through scenic valleys and gorges; whitewater boating.
Glen CanyonRAAriz., Utah19581,254,306 (507,816)Lake Powell, formed by the Glen Canyon Dam.
Golden GateRAW Calif.197273,688 (29,833)Beaches, forests, marshes, San Francisco's Presidio, and Alcatraz Island. One of the first two national urban recreation areas.
Lake ChelanRAN Wash.196861,958 (25,084)Located in the Stehekin Valley and in the northern part of fjordlike Lake Chelan.
Lake MeadRAAriz., Nev.19361,495,666 (605,745)Lake Mead, formed by Hoover Dam, and Lake Mohave, formed by Davis Dam; the first national recreation area established by Congress.
Lake MeredithRANW Tex.196544,978 (18,216)Includes Lake Meredith, on the Canadian River, a popular water-sports area.
Lake RooseveltRANE Wash.1946100,390 (40,658)Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake, formed by the Grand Coulee Dam in the Columbia River; interesting geology.
Ross LakeRAN Wash.1968117,575 (47,618)Extends along the Skagit River canyon; bisects North Cascades National Park.
Santa Monica MountainsRASW Calif.1978153,824 (62,277)Rugged, chaparral-covered landscape fronting on sandy beaches.
Whiskeytown-Shasta-TrinityRAN Calif.196542,503 (17,214)Reservoirs, forestland, and Whiskeytown Falls; the National Park Service runs the Whiskeytown unit, and the Forest Service administers the Shasta and Trinity units.

National Rivers

NameType1LocationYear authorizedSize
acres (hectares)
AlagnakWSSW Alaska198030,665 (12,415)White water and salmon fishing.
Big South ForkRRKy., Tenn.1976125,242 (50,705)Scenic gorges and valleys.
BluestoneWSSW W.Va.19884,310 (1,745)Fishing, hiking, boating, and scenery.
BuffaloRINW Ark.197294,292 (38,175)136-mi (219-km) stretch of the Buffalo River and its valley; the first national river.
DelawareWSN.J.-Pa.19781,973 (799)Swimming, boating, and fishing on Delaware River through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
Great Egg HarborWSSW N.J.1992129 mi (208 km) long; largest canoeing river in the Pine Barrens.
Lower St. CroixWSE Minn., NW Wis.197225,279 (10,234)First river segment added by Congress to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Program.
Mississippi RiverRRMinn.198853,775 (21,779)Cultural, historical, and industrial features of the Mississippi River.
MissouriWSS.Dak. to Neb.1978Two free-flowing portions of Missouri River with islands, bars, and chutes; native floodplain forest.
New River GorgeRIW Va.197869,834 (28,273)Rugged whitewater river flows through deep canyons.
NiobraraWSN Nebr.1991Ecological crossroads between eastern woodlands and western grasslands.
ObedWSE Tenn.19765,173 (2,094)Numerous streams and rugged scenery.
OzarkWSMo.196480,786 (32,707)Scenic parts of the Current and Jacks Fork rivers; the first national scenic river.
Rio GrandeWSS Tex.19789,600 (3,888)191-mi (307-km) strip of land on the U.S. shore of the Rio Grande in the Chihuahuan Desert.
Saint CroixWSMinn., Wis.196867,483 (27,321)200 mi (322 km) of the St. Croix River and its Namekagon tributary; trails, camping, boating.
Upper DelawareWSPa., N.Y.197875,005 (30,366)Fishing and boating.

National Lakeshores and Seashores

NameType1LocationYear authorizedSize
acres (hectares)
Apostle IslandsLSNW Wis.197069,372 (28,096)Apostle Islands and a strip of the Bayfield Peninsula, on the south shore of Lake Superior.
Assateague IslandSSMd., Va.196539,723 (16,082)37-mi (60-km) barrier island; beaches; wildlife refuge including wild ponies.
CanaveralSSE Fla.197557,662 (23,353)Barrier island dunes and marshland that includes a wildlife refuge.
Cape CodSSSE Mass.196143,685 (17,686)See Cape Cod.
Cape HatterasSSE N.C.193730,321 (12,276)The first national seashore. See under Hatteras, Cape.
Cape LookoutSSE N.C.196628,243 (11,438)Three barrier islands with beaches, sand dunes, and salt marshes; Cape Lookout Lighthouse.
Cumberland IslandSSSE Ga.197236,415 (14,748)Largest island off Georgia; beaches, sand dunes, marshes, and lakes.
Fire IslandSSSE N.Y.196419,579 (7,929)Covers section of Fire Island.
Gulf IslandsSSFla., Miss.1971137,458 (55,651)Historic forts and white sand beaches near Pensacola, Fla.; Fort Massachusetts and primitive offshore islands in S Miss.
Indiana DunesLSNW Ind.196615,138 (6,129)200-ft (60-m) sand dunes, beaches, and marshes along the south shore of Lake Michigan.
Padre IslandSSS Tex.1962130,434 (52,826)See Padre Island, Tex.
Pictured RocksLSN Mich.196673,228 (29,657)Sandstone cliffs, marshes, dunes, and waterfalls along Lake Superior; the first national lakeshore.
Point ReyesSSW Calif.196271,068 (28,772)Coastal area with beaches and steep bluffs.
Sleeping Bear DunesLSW central Mich.197071,196 (28,824)Section of the Lake Michigan shoreline and the North and South Manitoulin islands; beaches, sand dunes, forests.

Other Areas

NameType1LocationYear authorizedSize
acres (hectares)
AppalachianSTMaine, N.H., Vt., Mass., Conn., N.Y., N.J., Pa., Md., W.Va., Va., Tenn., N.C., Ga.1968214,528 (86,853)See Appalachian Trail.
Blue RidgePWVa., N.C.193688,689 (35,906)Scenic route in the Blue Ridge Mts. between Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mts. national parks; many roadside parks, lookouts, and trails; the first national parkway.
CaliforniaHTMissouri River to Calif. and Oreg.1992Former migration route extending 5,600 mi (9,010 km) from the Missouri River to California and Oregon.
Catoctin Mountain ParkPONW Md.19365,770 (2,337)Campgrounds, trails, and scenic drive located in the Catoctin Mts.; Camp David, the presidential retreat, is there.
Constitution GardensPOWashington, D.C.197852 (21)Memorial to the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Continental DivideSTMont., Idaho, Wyo., Colo., N.Mex.19783,200 (1,296)Runs the length of the Rocky Mountains.
FloridaSTS Fla.1983Subtropical plant and animal life along 1,300-mi (2,092-km) trail.
Fort Washington ParkPOWashington, D.C.1930341 (138)19th-century fort.
George Washington Memorial ParkwayPWVa., D.C., Md.19307,248 (2,935)Parkway connecting landmarks associated with the life of George Washington along both sides of the Potomac River from Mt. Vernon to Great Falls.
GreenbeltPON Md.19501,176 (476)Woodland park.
Ice AgeSTS Wis.1980100-mi (161-km) trail follows glacial moraines.
IditarodHTAlaska1978Former Alaska Gold Rush trail extending 2,350 mi (3,781 km) from Seward to Nome.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr.PWNW Wyo.197223,777 (9,622)Scenic corridor between Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks commemorating Rockefeller's role in the creation of many national parks.
Juan Bautista de AnzaHTW Calif.19901,200-mi (1,931-km) trail traces the path of Spanish colonists.
Lewis and ClarkHTMo., Neb., S.Dak., N.Dak., Mont., Idaho, Oreg.19783,700-mi (5,953-km) historic trail commemorates the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Mormon PioneerHTIll., Mo., Kans., Colo., Utah1978Historic trail follows the route taken by Brigham Young and his followers in 1847-48.
Natchez TraceSTMiss., Tenn.198310,995 (4,453)Trail extends from Nashville, Tenn., to Natchez, Miss.
Natchez TracePWMiss., Ala., Tenn.193851,748 (20,958)Parkway following the general location of the old trail known as the Natchez Trace.
National Capital ParksPOD.C., Va., Md.17906,544 (2,649)More than 300 parks, parkways, and military fortifications in and around Washington, D.C.
National MallPOWashington, D.C.1933146 (59)Landscaped park, part of the L'Enfant Plan for Washington, D.C.
Nez PercéHTOregon, Idaho, Mont., Wyo.19861,170-mi (1,883-km) trail commemorates the retreat of the Nez Percé under Chief Joseph in 1877.
North CountrySTN.Y. to N.Dak.1980Extends 3,200 mi (5,149 km), connecting seven northern tier states.
OregonHTMo. to Oreg.1978Traces the c.2,000-mi (3,200-km) route of pioneers in 1841-60.
Overmountain VictoryHTTenn., Va., N.C., S.C.1980Follows the 300-mi (483-km) path of revolutionary Patriots.
Pacific CrestSTCalif., Oreg., Wash.1968Follows the Sierra and Cascade peaks 2,638 mi (4,245 km) from Mexico to Canada; along with the Appalachian Trail one of the two initial components of the National Trails System.
Piscataway ParkPOS Md.19614,486 (1,816)Preserves the view from Mt. Vernon of the opposite shore of the Potomac River.
Pony ExpressHTMo., Kans., Colo., Utah, Nev., Calif.1992Follows the 1,966-mi (3,163-km) route of the pony express riders in 1860-61.
Potomac HeritageSTVa., D.C., Md., Pa.1983704-mi (1,133-km) trail connects the tidewater regions to the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.
Prince William Forest ParkPONE Va.193618,572 (7,522)Pine and hardwood forests of the Quantico Creek watershed.
Rock Creek ParkPOWashington, D.C.18901,754 (710)Wooded preserve, one of the largest urban parks in the nation.
Santa FeHTMo., Kans., Okla., Col., N.Mex.1987Traces the 1,203-mi (1,936-km) route of famous Santa Fe Trail.
Theodore Roosevelt IslandPOWashington, D.C., Va.193289 (36)Wilderness preserve in the Potomac River; a tribute to the "conservationist president."
Trail of TearsHTN.C., Tenn., Ga., Ala., Ark., Okla.19872,200-mi (3,540-km) trail commemorates the routes of forced migration of more than 15,000 Cherokee from their ancestral homes.
White HousePOWashington, D.C.193318 (7)See White House.
Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing ArtsPON Va.1966130 (53)Set in a rolling, wooded landscaped area to provide artistic enjoyment and recreation; the first national park for the performing arts.

BPBattlefield Park
BSBattlefield Site
HPHistorical Park
HSHistoric Site
HTHistoric Trail
ISInternational Historic Site
MPMilitary Park
MRMonument and Preserve
PAPreserve and Addition
PEPark and Expansion
POPark, other
PPPark and Preserve
RARecreation Area
RRRiver and Recreation Area
STScenic Trail
WSWild or Scenic River or Riverway

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is a national monument and national preserve located in the Snake River Plain in central Idaho, near the small town of Arco. The protected area's features are volcanic and represent one of the best preserved flood basalt areas in the continental United States.

The Monument was established on May 2, 1924. In November 2000, a Presidential proclamation greatly expanded the Monument area. The National Park Service portions of the expanded Monument were designated as Craters of the Moon National Preserve in August 2002. It lies in parts of Blaine, Butte, Lincoln, Minidoka, and Power counties. The area is managed cooperatively by the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The Monument and Preserve encompass three major lava fields and about of sagebrush steppe grasslands to cover a total area of . All three lava fields lie along the Great Rift of Idaho, with some of the best examples of open rift cracks in the world, including the deepest known on Earth at . There are excellent examples of almost every variety of basaltic lava as well as tree molds (cavities left by lava-incinerated trees), lava tubes (a type of cave), and many other volcanic features.

Geography and geologic setting

The Craters of the Moon Lava Field spreads across and is the largest mostly Holocene-aged basaltic lava field in the lower 48 U.S. states. The Monument and Preserve contain more than 25 volcanic cones including outstanding examples of spatter cones. The 60 distinct lava flows that form the Craters of the Moon Lava Field range in age from 15,000 to just 2,000 years. The Kings Bowl and Wapi lava fields, both about 2,200 years old, are part of the National Preserve.

Craters of the Moon Lava Field reaches southeastward from the Pioneer Mountains. This lava field is the largest of several large beds of lava that erupted from the south-east to north-west trending Great Rift volcanic zone—a line of weakness in the Earth's crust created by Basin and Range rifting. Together with fields from other fissures they make up the Lava Beds of Idaho, which in turn are located within the much larger Snake River Plain volcanic province. The Great Rift almost extends across the entire Snake River Plain.

The rugged landscape remains remote and undeveloped with only one paved road across the northern end. Craters of the Moon is located in south-central Idaho midway between Boise and Yellowstone National Park and its elevation at the visitor center is above sea level. Combined U.S. Highway 20-26-93 cuts through the north-western part of the monument and provides access to it.

Total average precipitation in the Craters of the Moon area is between 15 to 20 inches (400 to 500 mm) per year. Most of this is lost in cracks in the basalt, only to emerge later in springs and seeps in the walls of the Snake River Canyon. Older lava fields on the plain have been invaded by drought-resistant plants such as sagebrush, while younger fields, such as Craters of the Moon, only have a seasonal and very sparse cover of vegetation. In fact, from a distance this cover disappears almost entirely, giving an impression of utter black desolation. Repeated lava flows over the last 15,000 years have raised the land surface enough to expose it to the prevailing southwesterly winds, which help to keep the area dry. Together these conditions make life on the lava field difficult.


Native American history

Paleo-Indians visited the area about 12,000 years ago but did not leave much archaeological evidence. Northern Shoshone created trails through the Craters of the Moon Lava Field during their Summer migrations from the Snake River to the Camas Prairie, west of the lava field. Stone windbreaks at Indian Tunnel were used to protect campsites from the dry summer wind. No evidence exists for permanent habitation by any Native American group. A hunting and gathering culture, the Northern Shoshone pursued Elk, bears, American Bison, Cougars, and Bighorn Sheep—all large game who no longer range the area. The most recent volcanic eruptions ended about 2,100 years ago and were likely witnessed by the Shoshone people. Shoshone legend speaks of a serpent on a mountain who, angered by lightning, coiled around and squeezed the mountain until liquid rock flowed, fire shot from cracks, and the mountain exploded.

Goodale's Cutoff

European fur trappers avoided the lava field area below the Pioneer Mountains by following Indian trails. Early white pioneers who sought gold, affordable farm land to raise crops, or cheap ranch land to range cattle also avoided the lava fields and considered them useless.

Pioneers traveling in wagon trains on the Oregon Trail in the 1850s and 1860s followed an alternate route in the area that used old Indian trails that skirted the lava flows. This alternate route was later named Goodale's Cutoff and part of it is located in the northern part of the monument. The cutoff was created to reduce the possibility of ambush by Shoshone warriors along the Snake River such as the one that occurred at Massacre Rocks, which today is memorialized in Idaho's Massacre Rocks State Park.

After gold was discovered in the Salmon River area of Idaho a group of emigrants persuaded an Illinois-born trapper and trader named Tim Goodale to lead them through the cutoff. A large wagon train left in July 1862 and met up with more wagons at Craters of the Moon Lava Field. Numbering 795 men and 300 women and children, the unusually large group was relatively unmolested during its journey and named the cutoff for their guide. Improvements to the cutoff such as adding a ferry to cross the Snake River made it into a popular alternate route of the Oregon Trail.

Exploration and early study

In 1879, two Arco cattlemen named Arthur Ferris and J.W. Powell became the first known people to explore the lava fields. They were investigating its possible use for grazing and watering cattle but found the area to be unsuitable and left.

United States Army Captain and western explorer B.L.E. Bonneville visited the lava fields and other places in the West in the 19th century and wrote about his experiences in his diaries. Washington Irving later used Bonneville's diaries to write the Adventures of Captain Bonneville, saying this unnamed lava field is a place "where nothing meets the eye but a desolate and awful waste, where no grass grows nor water runs, and where nothing is to be seen but lava.

In 1901 and 1903, Israel Russell became the first geologist to study this area while surveying it for the United States Geological Survey (USGS). In 1910, Samuel Paisley continued Russell's work and later became the monument's first custodian. Others followed and in time much of the mystery surrounding this and the other Lava Beds of Idaho was lifted.

The few Caucasians who visited the area in the 19th century created local legends that it looked like the surface of the Moon. Geologists Harold T. Stearns coined the name "Craters of the Moon" in 1923 while trying to convince the National Park Service to recommend protection of the area in a national monument.

Limbert's expedition

Robert Limbert, a sometime taxidermist, tanner and furrier from Boise, Idaho, explored the area, which he described as "practically unknown and unexplored ..." in the 1920s after hearing stories from fur trappers about "strange things they had seen while ranging the region".

Limbert set out on his third and most ambitious foray to the area in 1924, this time with W.C. Cole and an Airedale Terrier to accompany him. Starting from Minidoka, Idaho, they explored what is now the monument area from south to north passing Two Point Butte, Echo Crater, Big Craters, North Crater Flow, and out of the lava field through the Yellowstone Park and Lincoln Highway (now known as the Old Arco-Carey Road). Taking the dog along was a mistake, Limbert wrote, "for after three days' travel his feet were worn and bleeding".

A series of newspaper and magazine articles authored by Limbert were later published about this and previous treks, which increased public awareness of the area. The most famous of these was an article that appeared in a 1924 issue of National Geographic where he called the area "Craters of the Moon," helping to solidify the use of that name. In the article he had this to say about the cobalt blue of the Blue Dragon Flows:

"It is the play of light at sunset across this lava that charms the spectator. It becomes a twisted, wavy sea. In the moonlight its glazed surface has a silvery sheen. With changing conditions of light and air, it varies also, even while one stands and watches. It is a place of color and silence ..."

Protection and later history

In large part due to Limbert's work, Craters of the Moon National Monument was proclaimed on May 2, 1924 by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge to "preserve the unusual and weird volcanic formations". The Craters Inn and several cabins were built in 1927 for the convenience of visitors. The Mission 66 Program initiated construction of today's road system, visitor center, shop, campground and comfort station in 1956 and in 1959 the Craters of the Moon Natural History Association was formed to assist the monument in educational activities. The addition of an island of vegetation completely surrounded by lava known as Carey Kipuka (Carey Kipuka.jpg) increased the size of the monument by in 1962.

Since then the monument has been enlarged. On October 23, 1970 the United States Congress set aside a large part of it——as Craters of the Moon National Wilderness, protecting that part under the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Much later NASA visited the real Moon through the Apollo program and found that its surface does not closely resemble this part of Idaho. NASA astronauts discovered that real Moon craters were almost all created by impacting meteorites while their namesakes on Earth were created by volcanic eruptions; both are desolate. Apollo astronauts performed part of their training at Craters of the Moon Lava Field by learning to look for and collect good rock specimens in an unfamiliar and harsh environment.

For many years, geologists, biologists and environmentalists have advocated for expansion of the monument and its transformation into a national park. Part of that goal was reached in 2000 when the monument was expanded 13-fold from to its current size in order to encompass the entire Great Rift zone and its three lava fields. The entire addition is called the Backcountry Area while the two older parts are called the Developed Area and Wilderness Area. Opposition by cattle interests and hunters to a simple expansion plan led to a compromise of having the addition become a national preserve in 2002 (which allows hunting, not ordinarily permitted in national parks and monuments in the U.S.). Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is co-managed by the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management.


The Snake River Plain is a volcanic province that was created by a series of cataclysmic caldera-forming super-eruptions which started about 15 million years ago. A migrating hotspot thought to now exist under Yellowstone Caldera in Yellowstone National Park has been implicated. This hot spot was under the Craters of the Moon area some 10 to 11 million years ago but 'moved' as the North American Plate migrated southwestward. Pressure from the hot spot heaves the land surface up, creating fault-block mountains. After the hot spot passes the pressure is released and the land subsides.

Leftover heat from this hot spot was later liberated by Basin and Range-associated rifting and created the many overlapping lava flows that make up the Lava Beds of Idaho. The largest rift zone is the Great Rift; it is from this fissure system that Craters of the Moon, Kings Bowl, and Wapi lava fields were created.

In spite of their fresh appearance, the oldest flows in the Craters of the Moon Lava Field are 15,000 years old and the youngest erupted about 2000 years ago, according to Mel Kuntz and other USGS geologists. Nevertheless the volcanic fissures at Craters of the Moon are considered to be dormant, not extinct and are expected to erupt sometime during the next thousand years. There are eight major eruptive periods recognized in the Craters of the Moon Lava Field. Each period lasted about 1000 years or less and were separated by relatively quiet periods that lasted between a 500 to as long as 3000 years.

Kings Bowl Lava Field erupted during a single fissure eruption on the southern part of the Great Rift about 2,250 years ago. This eruption probably lasted only a few hours to a few days. The field preserves explosion pits, lava lakes, squeeze-ups, basalt mounds, and an ash blanket. The Wapi Lava Field probably formed from a fissure eruption at the same time as the Kings Bowl eruption. More prolonged activity over a period of months to a few years led to the formation of low shield volcano in the Wapi field. The Bear Trap lava tube, located between the Craters of the Moon and the Wapi lava fields, is a cave system more than long. The lava tube is remarkable for its length and for the number of well-preserved lava cave features, such as lava stalactites and curbs, the latter marking high stands of the flowing lava forever frozen on the lava tube walls. The lava tubes and pit craters of the monument are known for their unusual preservation of winter ice and snow into the hot summer months, due to shielding from the sun and the insulating properties of basalt.

A typical eruption along the Great Rift and similar basaltic rift systems in starts with a curtain of very fluid lava shooting up to high along a segment of the rift up to long. As the eruption continues pressure and heat decrease and the chemistry of the lava becomes slightly more silica rich. The curtain of lava responds by breaking apart into separate vents. Various types of volcanos may form at these vents; gas-rich pulverized lava creates cinder cones (such as Inferno Cone – stop 4) and pasty lava blobs form spatter cones (such as Spatter Cones – stop 5). Later stages of an eruption push lava streams out through the side or bottom of cinder cones, which usually ends the life of the cinder cone (North Crater, Watchmen, and Sheep Trail Butte are notable exceptions). This will sometimes breach part of the cone and carry it away as large and craggy blocks of cinder (as seen at North Crater Flow – stop 2 – and Devils Orchard – stop 3). Solid crust forms over lava streams and lava tubes (a type of cave) are created when lava vacates its course (examples can be seen at the Cave Area – stop 7).

Geologists feared that a large earthquake that shook Borah Peak, Idaho's tallest mountain, in 1983 would restart volcanic activity at Craters of the Moon, though this proved not to be the case. Geologists predict that the area will experience its next eruption some time in the next 900 years with the most likely period in the next 100 years.



All plants and animals that live in and around Craters of the Moon are under great environmental stress due to constant dry winds and heat-absorbing black lavas that tend to quickly sap water from living things. Summer soil temperatures often exceed 150 °F (65 °C) and plant cover is generally less than 5% on cinder cones and about 15% over the entire monument. Adaptation is therefore necessary for survival in this semi-arid harsh climate.

Water is usually only found deep inside holes at the bottom of blow-out craters. Animals therefore get the moisture they need directly from their food. The black soil on and around cinder cones does not hold moisture for long, making it difficult for plants to establish themselves. Soil particles first develop from direct rock decomposition by lichens and typically collect in crevices in lava flows. Successively more complex plants then colonize the microhabitat created by the increasingly-productive soil.

The shaded north slopes of cinder cones provide more protection from direct sunlight and prevailing southwesterly winds and also have a more persistent snow cover (an important water source in early spring). These parts of cinder cones are therefore colonized by plants first.

Gaps between lava flows were sometimes cut-off from surrounding vegetation. These literal islands of habitat are called kipukas, a Hawaiian name used for older land surrounded by younger lava. Carey Kipuka is one such area in the southernmost part of the monument and is used as a benchmark to measure how plant cover has changed in less pristine parts of southern Idaho.


There are 375 species of plant known to grow in the monument. When wildflowers are not in bloom, most of the vegetation is found in semi-hidden pockets and consists of pine trees, cedars, junipers, and sagebrush. Strategies used by plants to cope with the adverse conditions include:

A common plant seen on the lava field is the Dwarf Buckwheat (Drawf Buckweat at Craters of the Moon National Monument.jpeg), a flowering plant tall with a root system wide. The root system monopolizes soil moisture in its immediate area, resulting in individual plants that are evenly spaced. Consequently, many visitors have asked park rangers if the buckwheat were systematically planted.

Wildflowers bloom from early May to late September but most are gone by late August. Moisture from snow-melt along with some rainfall in late spring kick-starts the germination of annual plants, including wildflowers. Most of these plants complete their entire life cycle in the few months each year that moisture levels are good. The onset of summer decreases the number of wildflowers and by autumn only the tiny yellow flowers of sagebrush and rabbitbrush remain. Some wildflowers that grow in the area are the Arrow-leaved Balsamroot, Bitterroot, Blazing Star, Desert Parsley, Dwarf Monkeyflower, Paintbrush, Scorpionweed, Scabland Penstemon] and the Wild Onion.


Years of cataloging by biologists and park rangers have recorded 2000 species of insect, 8 reptiles, 169 birds, 48 mammals, and even one amphibian (the Western Toad). Birds and some rodents are seen most frequently in the Craters of the Moon area. Brown Bears once roamed this area but have long ago become locally extinct. Traditional livestock grazing continues within the grass/shrublands administered by the BLM.

Most desert animals are nocturnal, or mainly active at night. Nocturnal behavior is an adaptation to both predation and hot summer daytime temperatures. Nocturnal animals at Craters of the Moon include woodrats (also called packrats), skunks, foxes, bobcats, mountain lions, bats, nighthawks, owls, and most other small desert rodents.

Animals that are most active at dawn and dusk, when temperatures are cooler than mid-day, are called crepuscular. The subdued morning and evening light helps make them less visible to predators, but is bright enough to allow them to locate food. Some animals are crepuscular mainly because their prey is. Crepuscular animals in the area include mule deer, coyotes, porcupines, Mountain Cottontails, jackrabbits, and many songbirds.

Some desert animals are diurnal, or primarily active during the day. These include ground squirrels, marmots, chipmunks, lizards, snakes, hawks, and eagles.

Many animals have a specific temperature range where they are active, meaning the times they are active vary with the seasons. Snakes and lizards hibernate during the winter months, are diurnal during the late spring and early fall, and become crepuscular during the heat of summer. Many insects and some birds also alter their times of activity. Some animals, like ground squirrels and marmots, have one or more periods of estivation, a summer hibernation that allows them to avoid the hottest and driest periods.

Several animals are unique to Craters of the Moon and the surrounding area. Subspecies of Great Basin Pocket Mouse, pika, Yellow-pine Chipmunk, and Yellow-bellied Marmot are found nowhere else. Lava tube beetles and many other cave animals are found only in the lava tubes of eastern Idaho.

Mule Deer

In May 1980 wildlife researcher Brad Griffith of the University of Idaho started a three year study to mark and count the Mule Deer in the monument. The National Park Service was concerned that the local herd might grow so large that it would damage its habitat. Griffith found that this group of Mule Deer has developed a totally unique drought evasion strategy for its species.

The deer arrive in the southern part of the pre-2000 extent of the monument mid-April each year once winter snows have melted away enough to allow for foraging. Griffith found that by late summer plants in the area have already matured and dried to the point that they can no longer provide enough moisture to sustain the deer. In late July after about 12 days above and warm nights above the herd migrates 5 to 10 miles (8 to 16 km) north to the Pioneer Mountains to obtain water from free-flowing streams and shade themselves in aspen and Douglas-fir groves. Rain in late September prompts the herd to return to the monument to feed on bitterbrush until snow in November triggers them to migrate back to their winter range. This herd, therefore, has a dual summer range. It is also very productive with one of the highest fawn survival rates of any herd in the species.

Afternoon winds usually die down in the evening, prompting behavioral modifications in the herd. The deer avoid the dry wind by being more active at night when the wind is not blowing. In 1991 there was a three-year average of 420 Mule Deer.

Recreational activities

A series of fissure vents, cinder cones, spatter cones, rafted blocks, and overlapping lava flows are accessible from the Loop Drive, long. Wildflowers, shrubs, trees, and wild animals can be seen by hiking on one of the many trails in the monument or by just pulling over into one of the turn-offs. More rugged hiking opportunities are available in the Craters of the Moon Wilderness Area and Backcountry Area, the roadless southern and major part of the monument.

  1. The Visitor Center is located near the monument's only entrance. Various displays and publications along with a short film about the geology of the area help to orient visitors. Ranger-led walks are available in summer and cover topics such as wildlife, flowers, plants, or geology. Self-guiding tours and displays are available year-round and are easily accessible from the Loop Drive.
  2. A paved trail less than 1/4 mile (400 m) long at North Crater Flow (North Crater cinder cone and flow-1200px.jpeg) goes through the Blue Dragon Lava Flow, which formed about 2200 years ago, making it one of the youngest lava flows on the Craters of the Moon Lava Field. This lava is named for the purplish-blue tint that tiny pieces of obsidian (volcanic glass) on its surface exhibit. Good examples of pahoehoe (roppy), aa (jagged), and some block lava are readily visible along with large rafted crater wall fragments. The rafted crater wall fragments seen on the flow were once part of this cinder cone but were torn away when the volcano's lava-filled crater was breached. A 1.8-mile-long trail (2.9 km) includes the 1/2 mile (800 m) overlook trail but continues on through the crater and to the Big Craters/Spatter Cones parking lot.
  3. Devils Orchard (Devils Orchard at Craters of the Moon National Monument.jpeg) is a group of lava-transported cinder cone fragments (also called monoliths or cinder crags) that stand in cinders. Like the blocks at stop 2 they were once part of the North Crater cinder cone but broke off during an eruption of lava. A 1/2 mile-long (800 m) paved loop trial through the formations and trees of the "orchard" is available. The interpretive displays on the trail emphasize human impacts to the area.
  4. Inferno Cone Viewpoint (Craters of the Moon National Monument from Inferno Cone-2000px.jpg) is located on top of Inferno Cone cinder cone. A short but steep trail up the cinder cone leads to an overlook of the entire monument. From there the Spatter Cones can be seen just to the south along with a large part of the Great Rift. In the distance is the over 700-foot-tall (>200 m) Big Cinder Butte, one of the world's largest, purely basaltic, cinder cones. Further away are the Pioneer Mountains (behind the Visitor Center) and beyond the monument are the White Knob Mountains, the Lost River Range, and the Lemhi Range.
  5. Big Craters and Spatter Cones (Spatter Cones at Craters of the Moon National Monument.jpeg) sit directly along the local part of the Great Rift fissure. Spatter cones are created by accumulations of pasty gas-poor lava as they erupt from a vent. Big Craters is a cinder cone complex located less than 300 feet (90 m) up a steep foot trail.
  6. Tree Molds (Tree mold at Craters of the Moon National Monument.jpeg) is an area within the Craters of the Moon Wilderness where lava flows overran part of a forest. The trees were incinerated but as some of them burned they released enough water to cool the lava to form a cast. Some of these casts survived the eruption and mark the exact location and shape of the burning trees in the lava. Both holes and horizontal molds were left, some still showing shapes indicative of bark. The actual Tree Molds area is located a mile (1.6 km) from the Tree Molds parking lot and picnic area off a moderately difficult wilderness trail. This trail continues past the Tree Molds and 3 miles (5 km) further into the wilderness area before gradually disappearing near Echo Crater. A pull off on the spur road leading to the Tree Molds area presents the Lava Cascades, a frozen river of Blue Dragon Flow lava that temporarily pooled in the Big Sink.
  7. Cave Area is the final stop on Loop Drive and, as the name indicates, has a collection of lava tube caves. Formed from the Blue Dragon Flow, the caves are located a half-mile (800 m) from the parking lot and include,

*Dewdrop Cave,
*Boy Scout Cave,
*Beauty Cave,
*Surprise Cave, and
*Indian Tunnel.
The caves are open to visitors but flashlights are needed except in Indian Tunnel and some form of head protection is highly recommended when exploring any of the caves. Lava tubes are created when the sides and surface of a lava flow hardens. If the fluid interior flows away a cave is left behind.

Craters of the Moon Campground has 51 sites – none of which can be reserved in advance. Camping facilities are basic but do include water, restrooms, charcoal grills, and trash containers. National Park Service rangers present evening programs at the campground amphitheater in the summer.

Backcountry hiking is available in the Craters of the Moon Wilderness and the much larger Backcountry Area beyond (added in 2000). Only two trails enter the wilderness area and even those stop after a few miles or kilometers. From there most hikers follow the Great Rift and explore its series of seldom-visited volcanic features. All overnight backcountry hikes require registration with a ranger. No drinking water is available in the backcountry and the dry climate quickly dehydrates hikers. Avoiding summer heat and winter cold are therefore recommended by rangers. Pets, camp fires, and all mechanized vehicles, including bicycles, are not allowed in the wilderness area.

Skiing is allowed on the Loop Drive after it is closed to traffic in late November due to snow drifts. Typically there are 20 inches (50 cm) of snow by January and 25 in (60 cm) by February. Cross-country skiing off of Loop Drive is allowed but may be dangerous due to sharp lava and hidden holes under the snow. Blizzards and other inclement weather may occur.

Nearby protected areas




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