Must See National Monuments To Add To Your Bucket List

Nationally Designated Places For You To Take A Hike

You've heard of national parks, but have you explored any national monuments yet? If not, you're missing out. Often, national monuments are less crowded than national parks, making for a more intimate experience with the special land. 

Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah // Photo courtesy @emjso5

What Is A National Monument?

A national monument is a protected place that holds historic, scientific or geological significance. Preserved by a government entity and maintained for public use, national monuments are truly hidden gems sprinkled throughout the country. 

There are a total of 128 national monuments in the United States alone.

Curious what they are?

Below you’ll find our top picks for must-see national monuments that you can hike in -- and they all count for your #52HikeChallengeNationalParksSeries!

Read on and start adding to your bucket list right now. 

Chiricahua National Monument - Arizona

Known as a “Wonderland of Rocks,” this national monument features 17 miles of hiking trails through towering rhyolite rock pinnacles. It is said that these mystifying structures developed millions of years ago after an ancient volcanic eruption. Experience the geological wonder of Chiricahua on a day trip or an overnight camping adventure. 

"Chiricahua National Monument is a hidden gem. I was surprised at how beautiful the campground was. The hiking and rock formations were breath-taking! I will be back for sure."

- Karla Amador, 52 Hike Challenge Co-Founder & Chief Hiking Officer 

Photo courtesy @lovekarlaamador

Sunset Crater Volcano & Wupatki National Monuments - Arizona

When you visit this area, located north of Flagstaff, you get not one national monument but two - and for one entry fee! While hiking is a little limited at Wupatki, you'll still end up walking a few miles if you see all the sites. Then, wander over to Sunset Crater to hike through lava beds and up to see the oldest crater in the area. 

More info:

Muir Woods National Monument - California

Located in Northern California, Muir Woods is a lush forest made up of giant redwood trees. Explore the old-growth redwoods by foot on 6 miles of trails. If you keep hiking past the bounds of the national monument and into Mount Tamalpais State Park, some trails will lead you to the Pacific Ocean with amazing views of Coastal California. 

"I love Muir Woods because in all my travels, I’ve never seen another place like it before. The gigantic redwoods are something so surreal for a Minnesota girl to see. I instantly had a sense of peacefulness hiking within those trees."

- @skc_11

Dinosaur National Monument - Colorado/Utah

Roam where the dinosaurs once roamed at this incredible national monument! Explore the surrounding canyons and discover dinosaur fossils embedded in rock walls. This national monument delivers it all: science, history, scenery, and of course hiking! 

"Dinosaur National Monument is every Dinosaur lovers dream! You are in such a remote and beautiful location and the collection of fossils you get to see is very impressive!"
- @ash_tree_albertson

Photo courtesy @ash_tree_albertson

Gold Butte National Monument - Nevada

Located in the remote desert of Nevada, this national monument consists of red sandstone canyons. Drive the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway to see the landscape in its purest form and also travel through the historic Gold Butte mining ghost town. During this 62-mile scenic drive, there are plenty of opportunities for you to get out and take a hike.  

More info:

Aztec Ruins National Monument - New Mexico

Travel the ancient trails the Pueblos trekked hundreds of years ago. This archeological site features a half-mile trail through Pueblo ruins. Designated as a World Heritage Site, Aztec Ruins National Monument is renowned for its historical and cultural importance. 

Photo courtesy @aztecruinsnm

Cascade Siskiyou National Monument - Oregon

Located at the intersection of three different mountain ranges (Cascade, Siskiyou, and Klamath), this national monument hosts a diverse ecosystem full of flora and fauna. With the Pacific Crest Trail running right through it, you're sure to find hikes of all lengths and difficulties at this special BLM land.

    Cedar Breaks National Monument - Utah

    Situated over 10,000 feet in elevation, Cedar Breaks National Monument overlooks a mesmerizing canyon. Located near Bryce Canyon National Park, this site features hiking trails for all ages and skill levels. Cedar Breaks has it all: arches, pinnacles, forests, wildflowers, and amazingly clear night skies.

    Photos courtesy @emjso5

    Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument - Utah

    Preserving a whopping one million acres of land, this national monument is sure to bring you peace and solitude. In fact, it is so remote it was one of the last sites to be mapped in the continental United States. This national monument showcases slot canyons, monoliths, and much more. With over 40 trails to choose from, hiking abounds.

    Explore National Monuments During Your 52 Hike Challenge National Parks Series

    Did you know there are 419 nationally designated areas in the U.S. alone? Only 62 of these places are called "National Parks." 

    During your 52 Hike Challenge National Parks Series, you can explore ANY AND ALL nationally designated lands - parks, preserves, forests, and of course monuments! 

    The 52 Hike Challenge National Parks Series is a LIFETIME GOAL that challenges you to trek through 52 nationally designated lands, whether that's in the United States or overseas.

    Are you up for a lifetime challenge like no other?



    Want to remember this? Pin for later!

    Must See National Monuments To Add To Your Bucket List

    9 Must See National Monuments To Add To Your Bucket List

    Best National Monuments in USA

    9 of America's Best National Monuments

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments must be approved before they are published