It’s no surprise to anyone that the U.S. has some really spectacular public land set aside for conservation and recreation, but with so many land distinctions it can get a little confusing determining what exactly is a park versus a wilderness area versus a landmark. A landmark can be on federal, state, county, municipal, tribal, or private land, and it has been designated to preserve it’s unique biologic, geologic, historic, or cultural significance.
Some of the most incredible places across the country are designated as national landmarks. These are the features of the natural world that leave you with your jaw hanging open and your head shaking in wonder. They are a less common tourist attraction when you compare them with our national parks, but even the lands that are not open to the public are still worth having on your radar if you support conservation and biodiversity in America.
National landmarks are managed by the National Park Service and include both National Historic Landmarks (things like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island) and National Natural Landmarks. Established in 1962 by “administrative action relying on authority provided by the Historic Sites Act of 1935,” the first National Natural Landmarks were designated in 1962. The National Natural Landmarks program includes 599 places in the U.S. and its territories.
National Natural Landmarks are by definition sites that contain outstanding biological and geological resources. They are designated by the Secretary of the Interior for their value to science and education. These places represent the “best” examples of species diversity or geological formations in the country.
The U.S. has an incredible natural heritage, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts are it’s primary stewards. If you want to have National Natural Landmarks near you on your radar, visit the online directory where you can search by state. Get to know these places, cherish them, and if you are so compelled, speak up on their behalf.
National Natural Landmarks:
With almost 600 National Natural Landmarks to choose from, there's no way we can list them all here. Get out there and discover these rare and wonderful places for yourself.
We believe good things come from people spending time outside. We strive to provide inspiration and supporting information on incredible adventures to make it easy for you to get outdoors and explore new places. We understand that life is busy, but we strongly encourage you to make time for outdoor recreation on a weekly, if not daily, basis. To keep you inspired all year, we've put together a list of 52 geologic features and adventure themes. Check them out and join us in our #52AdventureChallenge!