Navajo National Monument (Arizona)

… was proclaimed on March 20, 1909.

Navajo National Monument

Navajo National Monument preserves three intact cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloan people. A visitor center, museum, three short self-guided trails, two small campgrounds, and a picnic area provide service to travelers.


Descendants of the Hopi people who built these places are called Hisatsinom. Zuni, also pueblo builders, know that several of their clans began in this area. Later, San Juan Southern Paiute, famous for their baskets, moved into this area and lived near the cliff dwellings. Today, this place is surrounded by the Navajo Nation, as it has been for hundreds of years.

Navajo National Monument


La Posada

I’ve been through Winslow, Arizona, many times and even stopped to eat there once or twice. Somehow until just a few years ago I missed the existence of the La Posada Hotel and The Turquoise Room and Martini Bar, it’s exceptional restaurant. They are a national treasure; a must see — at least a meal, better yet a stay.

Owned by the Santa Fe Railway, managed by Fred Harvey and designed by Mary Jane Colter, the preeminent Southwest architect — then and forever — the La Posada was the last and greatest of the railroad hotels. They estimate that it would take $40 million in today’s dollars to build the hotel and gardens that cost $2 million in 1929.

The hotel was open from 1930-1957 (and vacant for 40 years after that). Among guests were John Wayne, Bob Hope, Albert Einstein, the Crown Prince of Japan. It was that kind of hotel.

And it is beautiful again; so seemingly out of place that it was almost magical.

The food was terrific, the service delightful, with full Harvey Girl regalia.

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Homestead National Monument of America (Nebraska)

… was authorized on this date in 1936. The park includes the 160-acre claim filed by Daniel Freeman under The Homestead Act of 1862. It is one of five National Park Service Units in Nebraska.

It is the purpose of our government “to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial burdens from all shoulders and to give everyone an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life.” President Abraham Lincoln, July 4, 1861.

The Homestead Act of 1862 was one of the most significant and enduring events in the westward expansion of the United States. By granting 160 acres of free land to claimants, it allowed nearly any man or woman a “fair chance.” Homestead National Monument of America, located in Southeast Nebraska, commemorates this Act and the far-reaching effects it had upon the landscape and people.


One of the first people to file a claim under the Homestead Act of 1862 was Daniel Freeman. The site of his claim is now the site of Homestead National Monument of America. This site commemorates the lives and accomplishments of all pioneers and the changes brought about by the Homestead Act. Legend has it that Daniel Freeman filed his claim 10 minutes after midnight at the Land Office in Brownville, NE on January 1, 1863, the first day the Homestead Act went into effect.

Homestead National Monument of America


Zion National Monument (Utah)

… was proclaimed on this date in 1918. It incorporated Mukuntuweap National Monument. On November 19, 1919, Zion National Monument became Zion National Park.

NewMexiKen photo 2005. Click for larger version.

NewMexiKen photo 2005. Click for larger version.

Massive canyon walls ascend toward a brilliant blue sky. To experience Zion, you need to walk among the towering cliffs, or challenge your courage in a small narrow canyon. These unique sandstone cliffs range in color from cream, to pink, to red. They could be described as sand castles crowning desert canyons.


Immutable yet ever changing, the cliffs of Zion stand resolute, a glowing presence in late day, a wild calm. Melodies of waters soothe desert-parched ears, streams twinkle over stone, wren song cascades from red rock cliffs, cottonwood leaves jitter on the breeze. But when lightning flashes water falls erupt from dry cliffs, and floods flash down waterless canyons exploding log jams, hurling boulders, croaking wild joyousness, and dancing stone and water and time. Zion is alive with movement, a river of life always here and always changing.

Everything in Zion takes life from the Virgin River’s scarce desert waters. Water flows, and solid rock melts into cliffs and towers. Landscape changes as canyons deepen to create forested highlands and lowland deserts. A ribbon of green marks the river’s course as diverse plants and animals take shelter and thrive in this canyon oasis. From the beginning people sought this place, this sanctuary in the desert’s dry reaches. The very name Zion, a Hebrew word for refuge, evokes its significance.

Zion National Park

NewMexiKen photo, 2005. Click image for larger version.


Black Canyon of the Gunnison (Colorado)

… was authorized as a national monument on this date in 1933. It became a national park in 1999.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. With two million years to work, the Gunnison River, along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky.


The Black Canyon stretches far beyond the 14 miles within the national park. Including the canyon within Curecanti National Recreation Area and Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area, the total length is 53 miles.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park


Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

… was authorized by legislation on this date in 1899. It is the fifth oldest of the National Parks, after Yellowstone, Yosemite,, Sequoia, and General Grant (now Kings Canyon).

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier National Park encompasses 235,625 acres on the west-side of the Cascade Range, and is located about 100 kilometers (50 miles) southeast of the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area. Mount Rainier National Park is approximately 97 percent wilderness and 3 percent National Historic Landmark District and receives approximately 2 million visitors per year.

At 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier is the most prominent peak in the Cascade Range. It dominates the landscape of a large part of western Washington State. The mountain stands nearly three miles higher than the lowlands to the west and one and one-half miles higher than the adjacent mountains. It is an active volcano that last erupted approximately 150 years ago. The park contains 25 named glaciers across 9 major watersheds, with 382 lakes and 470 rivers and streams and over 3,000 acres of other wetland types.

Mount Rainier National Park


Casa Grande Ruin Reservation (Arizona)

… was authorized on this date in 1889. It was designated Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in 1918.

Casa Grande

For over a thousand years, prehistoric farmers inhabited much of the present-day state of Arizona. When the first Europeans arrived, all that remained of this ancient culture were the ruins of villages, irrigation canals and various artifacts. Among these ruins is the Casa Grande, or “Big House,” one of the largest and most mysterious prehistoric structures ever built in North America. Casa Grande Ruins, the nation’s first archeological preserve, protects the Casa Grande and other archeological sites within its boundaries. You are invited to see the Casa Grande and to hear the story of the ancient ones the Akimel O’otham call the Hohokam, “those who are gone.”


The Casa Grande was abandoned around 1450 C.E. Since the ancient Sonoran Desert people who built it left no written language behind, written historic accounts of the Casa Grande begin with the journal entries of Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino when he visited the ruins in 1694. In his description of the large ancient structure before him, he wrote the words “casa grande” (or “great house”) which are still used today.
. . .

[S]everal influential Bostonians urged Massachusetts Senator George F. Hoar to present a petition before the U. S. Senate in 1889 requesting that the government take steps to repair and protect the ruins. Repair work began the following year, and in 1892, President Benjamin Harrison set aside one square mile of Arizona Territory surrounding the Casa Grande Ruins as the first prehistoric and cultural reserve established in the United States.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

The cover was completed in 1932.