The West Coast may be known for making dreams come true, but Hollywood isn’t the only attraction worth visiting. The sheer landscape ranges from dry deserts and green, grassy plains to towering mountains with natural, historic wonders scattered throughout. With such an abundant variety to choose from, we’ve listed what we think are the five must-see monuments on the West Coast.
1. World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, Hawaii
The attack on Pearl Harbor is a day that will forever live in infamy. This monument represents nine historic sites, located in Hawaii, Alaska, and California, of the various events that took place during the war in the Pacific. With the sinking of the USS Arizona signifying the start of the war, the USS Arizona Memorial stands in remembrance to all the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country. The memorial is 184 feet long and was constructed in 1961 after President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved it in 1958. Attached to the severed mainmast of the sunken ship is a United States flagpole. The United States flag flies as a tribute to the fallen crew.
2. Muir Woods National Monument, California
This monument commemorates President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the leader in forming the United Nations with the dream of building peaceful relationships between nations. Only 12 days after suffering a stroke that ultimately took his life, he helped organize an international peace conference to take place in San Francisco. Planned before his death, a portion of the conference was to take place in the Muir Woods because of his passion for environmental conservation. However, after such a tragic death, a memorial service took place instead, where delegates from 46 different nations gathered to acknowledge all of his great accomplishments during his presidency. A plaque now resides as a symbol of the unification of world nations.
3. Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is the main tourist hub in Arizona, but what people don’t realize is there is a vast history living within the walls of another canyon, located approximately 264 miles west of the Grand Canyon. Canyon de Chelly is home to hundreds of prehistoric ruins where Ancient Puebloan people once lived. During the 1700’s, Navajo Indians settled in Canyon de Chelly. It was recognized as a National Monument in 1931 and is the only National Park Service site to still inhabit the Navajo Indian community today. With such a huge landscape, there is a variety of trails to explore at your leisure – with the exception of one. A guided tour allows you to go deep into the crevasses of the canyon and view one of its main features, known as Spider Rock.
4. Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah
If you are a nature fanatic, Cedar Breaks National Monument is your endless playground. Designated as a monument in 1933, it rests on the Markagunt Plateau, reaching elevations as high as 10,600 feet and covering an area of 10 square miles. With a variety of attractions to see, the natural amphitheater is by far the largest. It stretches across three miles of limestone, shale, and sandstone and is 2,000 feet deep. Known as the “Circle of Painted Cliffs,” the different layers of rock paint a pretty picture reflecting the sun. Because of its magnitude, you can spend days hiking and camping along the rim of the amphitheater. When visiting such a unique natural fascination, don’t forget your camera! You’ll want to take home all the breathtaking views.
5. Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming
Named by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 as the nation’s first National Monument, Devils Tower definitely rises to the occasion. It protrudes over 1,200 feet above the Wyoming plains and Belle Fourche River Valley below. Because of the hundreds of columns and cracks on its surface, it challenges climbers from around the world. Known as Bears Lodge to Native American Indians, they view it as a place for sacred worship. If you want to learn more about the geology, the area’s indigenous people, and the wildlife take a guided tour around the monument. But, if you like to discover nature independently, don’t worry; there are eight miles worth of hiking trails to explore. Visit in the spring and you’ll experience an even more captivating view of wildflowers blooming all around.
While we love this list of monuments, if you’re planning a trip to the East Coast, check out our post on Monuments and Memorials on the East Coast where more of the nation’s man-made monuments reside.