100 Years of the National Park Service – Monuments, Historical Parks, and Memorials


Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
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Less than an hour from Billings, Montana on the Crow Reservation is the memorial to the battle of Little Big Horn, or what many people know it as, Custer’s Last Stand. One of the perks of my job in Florida was being able to travel multiple times a year and seeing a lot of different and unique places. Standing in what as once a battlefield was a little spooky and it wasn’t difficult to imagine the carnage that went on. Yet it seemed a little surreal to see the wide-open expanse around me and imagine that in the 1870s and think of just how much more remote it must have felt then. I was glad I was able to drive down there after I was done with work for the day to see a bit of history that I might not have ever been to otherwise.

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Pompey’s Pillar National Monument
I forgot to include this one on the main list the other day as I thought it was a state park not a NPS site. This was another interesting visit one evening after I was done with my work duties in Billings. It was a short drive down I-94 and not far off the highway, making it easy to access. Leave No Trace ethics obviously don’t go back to the early 1800s but maybe that’s a good thing in some circumstances? Typically we (the greater outdoor enthusiasts ‘we’) don’t approve of carving our names into stones, trees, or other natural (or artificial) surfaces in our parks but seeing a lasting impression of the William and Clark expedition? Pretty damn cool!
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Harpers Ferry National Historic Park
Conveniently located on the Appalachian Trail, Harpers Ferry serves as the psychological halfway point for the trail for thru-hikers. Chris and I stopped for an extended stay (two nearos) in town where we met up with our friends Meghan and Jesse who live in Maryland. Our stay coincided with Memorial Day weekend so the town was pretty busy the first day we were there. A lot of cool, old buildings!

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Harpers Ferry, VA

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Mount Rushmore
Ah, Mount Rushmore! I flew into South Dakota mid-afternoon for another work trip and found myself without my luggage. It was mid-October and thankfully I’d carried on a light jacket! The luggage had been delayed in Denver for some reason and so after checking into my hotel I opted to drive down to Mount Rushmore about 30 minutes southwest of town instead of waiting around at the hotel. I had a lot of mixed feelings about Mount Rushmore after seeing it. For me, I felt that it was one of those monuments or places that is built up so much to be something so grand but when I stood in front of it the whole thing seemed much less majestic than I had imagined. Still, I’m glad I saw it! Later in the week I would go with the people I was taking a class with to the Crazy Horse Memorial that is being carved on private land. If you are ever in the area be sure to stop and see that monument too.

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I know that I was probably more enamored by the mountain goats!

National Mall
The first time I went to DC was pre-9/11 with Chris, his mom, and his step-dad. After that I went several other times for work conferences and always enjoyed seeing different parts of the city. I hit up most of the memorials that first time but the WWII memorial was finally built during the subsequent visits. I love visiting DC and the vibes it has!

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Castillo de San Marcos
Dating to the late 1600s, this fort is the oldest masonry fort in the continental US. St. Augustine the town dates back to the 1500s with many other wooden forts built prior to the stone fort. We visited with our friends Randy, Kathy, and Robert, Michelle, and their son when we went up to Jacksonville one Thanksgiving where Robert and Michelle were living at the time. We took a tour of the fort and definitely got the creep factor in a few spots, places where people definitely died. Still, it is pretty unique to have something that old still in tact on this continent!

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LBJ National Historical Park
I’m totally sneaking this one in here because we’ve done a drive-by through the park but have never actually gotten out to tour the grounds or the house. It’s beyond Pedernales Falls State Park and is located on the Pedernales River which makes this park very scenic. Next time we head that way we need to make it a more legit visit!

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