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Jill Sanford | 09.19.2017

It’s hard to find evidence of previous civilizations. Lucky for us as outdoor enthusiasts, however, the places where ancient artifacts are most easily found these days are in remote areas that often require a little hiking or exploring to get to. They are often incredibly scenic and make for great outdoor recreation destinations as well as places of historic interest.

From the fascinating ancient Polynesian canoes to the iconic to the castles and homes built right into the red rocks of the American Southwest, here is a roundup of some of the most fascinating and awe-inspiring places where you can experience the ancient world.

While sightseeing or hiking the featured destinations listed below, you’ll have the opportunity to walk on the same paths and take in the same views as ancient people. You’ll learn about how they lived their lives and often connected to the land surrounding the remnants of their civilization.

Following Leave No Trace guidelines is extremely important when visiting these fragile ruins and artifacts, even if they are located in a popular or crowded interpretive trail or park.

Perhaps one of the most controversial and historically rich sites to have on your radar is Bears Ears National Monument. As the outdoor community waits in trepidation for the official reveal of Interior Secretary Zinke’s final recommendation to the President regarding the future of this national monument, let’s take a moment to acknowledge what we have to lose. Bears Ears, placed first on this list, is not only an outdoor destination for climbers and hikers, but it's also an archeological wonder and sacred area in risk of damage and even destruction. 

Bears Ears National Monument

Other Destinations in the American Southwest

Latin America and South America


The American Southeast


The most important "Leave No Trace" principles when visiting rock art sites are ones not listed in the 7 linked to above, and those are:

1) DO NOT sit on or walk on any ruin walls; and

2) DO NOT touch any rock art panels. Skin oil can eventually alter and damage rock art panels.
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