Arches National Park (Utah)

… was proclaimed Arches National Monument on this date in 1929. It became a national park in 1971.


Visit Arches and discover a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures unlike any other in the world. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. This red rock wonderland will amaze you with its formations, refresh you with its trails, and inspire you with its sunsets.

The forces of nature have acted in concert to create the landscape of Arches, which contains the greatest density of natural arches in the world. Throughout the park, rock layers tell a story of millions of years of deposition, erosion and other geologic events. These layers continue to shape life in Arches today, as their erosion influences elemental features like soil chemistry and where water flows when it rains.

Arches is located in a “high desert,” with elevations ranging from 4,085 to 5,653 feet above sea level. The climate is one of very hot summers, cold winters and very little rainfall. Even on a daily basis, temperatures may fluctuate as much as 50 degrees.

Arches National Park

Little Bighorn Battlefield Montana

… was designated a national monument on this date in 1946.

Little Bighorn Battlefield

This area memorializes the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry and the Sioux and Cheyenne in one of the Indians last armed efforts to preserve their way of life. Here on June 25 and 26 of 1876, 263 soldiers, including Lt. Col. George A. Custer and attached personnel of the U.S. Army, died fighting several thousand Lakota, and Cheyenne warriors.

More than half of the 7th Cavalry survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn. About 350 soldiers under the command of Major Reno and Captian Benteen survived five miles south of where Custer and five companies were annihilated.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn did not end on top of Last Stand Hill as been traditionally suggusted. According to warrior accounts the fight ended in a ravine, 300-400 yards below the hill today, known as Deep Ravine.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

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.