This interesting National Monument protects three separate Spanish missions that date to the 1600s, though its main visitor center in Mountainair, New Mexico is not next to any of them. Their location near salt flats led to the name Salinas and contributed to the pueblos’ abandonment when a major drought struck in the 1670s.
Gran Quivira, Quarai, Abó, film at main visitor center
Gran Quivira has the remains of two churches (the second unfinished at the time of abandonment) and the most significantly excavated pueblo ruins (with kivas) of the three sites.
Each of the three pueblos has a paved walkway that leads
through its ruins that leaves from the parking lot and past its contact station
staffed by a National Park Service employee.
The church at Quarai is the most complete of the three sites and its red walls photograph well at sunset.
Why create a memorial to a genocidal Conquistador when he was not the first Spaniard to land in Florida? Good question. Juan Pónce de León and Pánfilo de Narváez had both already met their demise in this region, but that did not deter Hernando de Soto from trying again in 1539. He did not die until three years later, after he led his soldiers all the way to the Mississippi River leaving a path of destruction in their wake.
Camp Ucita, film, Memorial Trail, Holy Eucharist Monument
De Soto made landfall in Florida somewhere in the vicinity
of modern-day Bradenton, Florida where the Manatee River reaches Tampa Bay on
the Gulf of Mexico. He left behind 100
men there in Camp Ucita, a replica of which was built on the site of the
27-acre De Soto National Memorial. In
the winter (a.k.a. touristy) months, costumed interpreters work at the replica
Hike the half-mile Memorial Trail through the mangroves to
the Holy Eucharist Monument. Then cool
off in the air-conditioned visitor center to watch a 22-minute film on the
If you visit around Halloween, a scary skeleton Conquistador
atop a skeleton horse will greet you at the entrance to the National Park
Service visitor center.
The Hopewell Culture was found in southern Ohio from approximately 2,200 to 1,500 years before present. Sites are identified by their construction of geometric enclosures made of earth, primarily for burials. Many earth mounds were plowed under for farms or destroyed during construction of an army base in Chillicothe during the 1910s, which increased awareness of these archaeological treasures. In 1923, it was protected as Mound City Group National Monument and in 1992 expanded to become Hopewell Culture National Historical Park.
Indian mounds, museum, film from 2016
The National Park Service (NPS) visitor center in
Chillicothe is small but has had recent updates, including the excellent film
and displays of beautifully intricate artwork in the museum. From there you can walk to the Mound City
Group on the Scioto River. Most of these
23 mounds are less than four feet tall, but the largest mound in the area was
33 feet high.
At separate portions of the National Historical Park,
Tri-County Triangle bike path passes near the Hopewell Mound Group and the Ohio
Historical Society maintains Seip Earthworks, 17 miles west of Chillicothe on
Highway 50. Two other protected earthworks
are closed to the public.
The Hopewell Culture must have had an extensive trading
network to obtain the shells, copper, obsidian, and sharks’ teeth which have
been excavated from their burial mounds and displayed artfully in the NPS
Broadway in Skagway, Alaska still looks much like it did
during the 1897 gold rush, lined with boardwalks and bustling with activity,
especially when a cruise ship is docked.
Paved streets instead of mud are one major difference between now and
when 30,000 stampeders came here aboard ships from Seattle. The National Park Service (NPS) visitor
center is located inside the old railway depot and the NPS owns several other
historic structures including the Mascot Saloon and Jefferson “Soapy” Smith’s
Parlor. The NPS also runs a free museum
in downtown Seattle, Washington inside the historic Cadillac Hotel.
Mascot Saloon, Gold Rush Cemetery, Lower Reid Falls,
Chilkoot Trail, Cadillac Hotel museum (Seattle)
Start at the visitor center with the 25-minute introductory
film then wander the boardwalks up Broadway to see historic false-front
buildings that never burned since the 1897 gold rush. If you want to learn more about the infamous
“Soapy” Smith and laugh really hard, then I recommend purchasing tickets to the
Days of ’98 Show offered multiple times daily in the summer.
The NPS cooperatively manages the Chilkoot Trail with Parks
Canada who issues all permits (in Skagway) for backpacking the 33-mile
trail. The trailhead is in the ghost
town of Dyea, about 12 miles west of bustling Skagway. Almost every trekker takes 3 to 5 days to
hike one way into Canada and return on the White Pass Railroad. It is cheaper to only hike the U.S. side and
spend two nights at the always empty Pleasant Camp.
During the winter of 1897-98, over 30,000 people hauled
one-ton of food and gear per person over the 3,501-foot Chilkoot Pass on their
way to the Yukon Territory. Photograph
the 100% slope of the “Golden Stairs” in the summer, as it can be nearly
impossible to access in winter.
Summer due to cruise ships and the fact that the rest of the
year experiences heavy snowfall.
It is free to explore downtown Skagway’s buildings, but
overnight backpacking on the Chilkoot Trail has fees ($20.30 per person for
U.S.-side only) and is limited to only 50 permits per day to cross the border
Paved to Skagway and the dirt road to Dyea is good enough
for all vehicles.
There is a car campground in Dyea. Specific backcountry campsite permits (like
Sheep Camp) can fill up early.
Explore More – How
many times did the average stampeder have to ascend the Golden Stairs to haul
one-ton of food and gear over 3,501-foot Chilkoot Pass?
At age 15, Andrew Johnson fled his apprenticeship in Raleigh,North Carolina and eventually started a tailor shop in Greeneville, Tennessee. In 1829, he began his political career, ultimately serving as a U.S. Representative, Governor of Tennessee, U.S. Senator, Vice President, and President upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865. He was the first President to be impeached after vetoing the Tenure of Office Act (later found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court) and was acquitted by the margin of one vote.
House tour, tailor shop, museum, film, National Cemetery
Start at the visitor center, which offers a film, a small museum, and the enclosed tailor shop where Andrew Johnson worked before going into politics. Dress-up clothes are available if you want to take a photo straight out of the mid-1800s (no smiling for authenticity). There you can also pick up a free timed ticket for the homestead tour and a ticket to vote in Johnson’s impeachment trial.
The small National Cemetery atop a hill in Greeneville, Tennessee contains the graves of Andrew Johnson, his wife, and about 200 soldiers.