We’ve all heard of Mount Rushmore, the Washington Monument and other big-name tourist attractions. But if you want to hit the road this summer and get away from huge crowds, there are some monuments off the beaten path you might want to look into. The L.A. Times highlights 20 such places for the adventurous traveler into a new experience.
Capulin Volcano, New Mexico: Oh MAN! Everyone knows volcanoes are cool, even if they’re extinct. The Capulin Volcano rises more than 1,000 feet above the surrounding plains, and you can walk to the top and check the sights from the rim. And the best part is it won’t start exploding and mess up travel plans for millions! (Yeah, we’re talking to you, EyjafjallajÃ¶kull)
Visitors in 2009: 50,935
Gila Cliff Dwellings, New Mexico: Ancient caves that used to house Mongollans more than 700 years ago. Sounds awesome, right?
Visitors in 2009: 43,016
George Washington Carver, Missouri: He invented peanut butter, and visitors to George Washington Carver’s monument can find out even more about him, while learning how to live like he did in the 19th century.
Visitors in 2009: 38,899
Hovenweep, Utah/Colorado:One of the country’s original ghost towns, with the remains of six prehistoric villages built between 1200 and 1300.
Visitors in 2009: 27,855
Russell Cave, Alabama: More cool caves where people found shelter over 10,000 years, with plenty of hiking around the area as well.
Visitors in 2009: 24 087
Fossil Butte, Wyoming:Who doesn’t love fossils? This one is one of the richest deposits of fossils in the world, with specimens ranging from plants, alligators, crocodiles, insects, turtles and fish from what used to be a lake 52 million years ago. If you arrive during summer, you might be able to help on a real archaeological dig. Squee!
Visitors in 2009: 18,693
Aniakchak, Alaska: There are no roads to Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, on the Alaskan peninsula 450 miles southwest of Anchorage. VIsitors have to hire an air taxi or power boat to get to the 6-mile-wide, 2,000-foot-deep caldera formed by the collapse of a 7,000-foot mountain. Pack your warmest clothes: “Even in the summer the average temperature is only in the high 40s to 50s, and hypothermia is always a threat.”
Visitors in 2009: 14
Check out the rest of the list below:
Visitors in 2009: 60,851
Visitors in 2009: 60,534
Pipe Spring, Arizona
Visitors in 2009: 49,433
El Morro, New Mexico
Visitors in 2009: 48,245
Buck Island Reef, U.S. Virgin Islands
Visitors in 2009: 47,341
Aztec Ruins, New Mexico
Visitors in 2009: 38,234
Ft. Union, New Mexico
Visitors in 2009: 11,070
Alibates Flint Quarries, Texas
Visitors in 2009: 2,981
Cape Krusenstern, Alaska
Visitors in 2009: 1,810
Hidden gems: America’s 20 least-visited National Monuments [The L.A. Times]