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With twenty-five UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in the United States, these travel bloggers offer their insight on their favorite as well as tips when visiting them. Recognized for their important historical meaning, world heritage sites are subdivided into cultural and natural. The world has agreed that these landmarks should be protected and preserved for posterity. Admission to many is included for holders of America the Beautiful National Park Pass (which is free to military members and reduced for others).

Read on to find out what the travel experts recommend if you’re visiting one of our fascinating UNESCO sites. If you prefer to skip to a particular one, just click on the name in the list below.

Cultural:

Natural:

Mixed

Cultural

UNESCO divides their World Heritage Sites into different categories. The cultural designation means that the culture or history related to the landmark is being honored. In the United States, UNESCO has designated 13 such sites.

earth mound at Cahokia Mounds

Cahokia Mounds by Theresa Carter Goodrich @ The Local Tourist

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Theresa  | The Local Tourist

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, Illinois, preserves the history of a city that existed long before Columbus and uniquely illustrates America’s past. The UNESCO World Heritage site tells the tale of those who built it and those who came after, from Trappist monks to a 19th century mechanic to the archaeologists who preserve their stories.

This planned city covered six square miles and was covered with 120 earthworks. Seventy of them remain. You might miss Cahokia when you’re driving U.S. 40. The highway, also known as Collinsville Road runs right through the park. Authorized in 1806 by Thomas Jefferson as the National Road, as U.S. 40 is called, wasn’t officially completed until the 1920s, and by that time wagons, trains, and streetcars had all cut through the complex and the route was well established.

Walk the grounds and make sure to climb the tallest mound. Known as Monk’s Mound, from the top you can see the St. Louis Arch. You’ll also want to allow time to visit the Interpretive Center. It goes into detail about the excavation process and what archaeologists have learned about the civilization that built this city.

Chaco Culture

Annick  |   The Common Traveler

This National Historic Park in New Mexico honors the Pueblo people of the Southwestern United States. Chaco Canyon can be explored through guided tours and self-guided hikes. Because everything is so far away from each other, you’ll want to plan an entire day exploring. Visitors to the area frequently combine a visit here with a stop in Mesa Verde the following day.

Take the self-guided tour through a nine-mile loop covering five distinct sites. Stop by the Visitors Center to pick up a map since GPS may not be very helpful in this area. If you’re limited on time, don’t miss Pueblo Bonito, a structure that once included four stories and 660 rooms. You’ll get a feel for the importance of architecture to this indigenous culture.

But if you really want to experience it in a unique way, participate in the night sky program offered three days a week. Check with the Visitor Center for more information.

Independence Hall by Joel Baldwin – World Heritage Journey

Independence Hall

Joel  |  World Heritage Journey

Independence Hall is one of the most important buildings in America. Located in the centre of downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the hall was constructed in the 1750s to serve as the meeting house for Pennsylvania’s colonial government. But history changed forever when in July 1776, delegates to the Second Continental Congress met here, agreed upon, and signed the Declaration of Independence. At the end of the war, Independence Hall returned to the forefront of national politics. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention locked themselves in the hall, and later emerged with the Constitution.

Although Philadelphia has since faded from the political stage, the Hall is still a fascinating place to visit. It’s preserved much as it was during the turbulent days of the late 18th century, and the chair that George Washington used to host the Convention is still there! Though of course you can’t sit in it.

These days the Hall sits in parkland, surrounded by skyscrapers and adjacent to a museum housing the famous Liberty Bell. The complex is operated by the National Parks Service and tours are free, though reservations are required from March through December. It’s open every day of the year except Christmas Day. Be sure to arrive an hour before your scheduled tour, as the airport-style security screening can be quite slow!

Also nearby is the remains of a house where Presidents Washington and Adams both lived, filled with a thought-provoking display about their differing attitudes to slavery. There’s also the Benjamin Franklin Museum, the American Revolution Museum, and many other attractions nearby, so it’s well worth a day or two of exploring! Read more on our website.

view of cemetery up front with old fort in back in San Juan

Photo by Annick Lenoir-Peek @TheCommonTraveler

La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico

Annick  |  The Common Traveler

La Fortaleza is one of the loveliest, and the oldest, governor’s mansion in the western hemisphere. Completed in 1540 as part of the reinforcements on the island, to this day it continues to house the island’s governors. Since it is a residence, only certain areas are viewable by the public. When the last Spanish governor left the residence, he struck one of the wooden clocks with his sword, stopping it. This preserved piece of history memorializes this historic event. The tours are free but may be limited to certain days, so check the website before going.

Visit the two old forts in the area – Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo de San Cristobal. The largest fortification built in the new world is the Castillo de San Cristobal. El Morro is probably the most recognizable of the two forts. Admission costs $7 and includes both forts. A free trolley takes visitors from one to the other. The National Park Service website contains useful information. If you’re in Old San Juan, you shouldn’t miss them.

park guide in front of old indian cave

Photo by Sara of Travel With Sara

Mesa Verde National Park

Sara  Travel With Sara

Mesa Verde National Park is located in Southwestern Colorado and is home to some of the most stunning cliff dwellings in the United States. This national park is off the beaten path and is one that you will appreciate when you experience it. The drive to the park, from any direction offers beautiful views of colorful terrain in this part of the country. My husband and I spent some time exploring this park in August and surprisingly the temperature was about perfect. This area of the country can be extremely hot in August, so you may want to plan a late spring or early fall visit to avoid the heat.

We both walked away with a new appreciation of cliff dwellers and the work that they did to live their day to day lives. Hiking is popular in this park and it’s important to stop at the welcome center upon your arrival, so you can pick up tickets to tour some of the popular cliff dwellings. Keep in mind that it is never ok to touch any of these works of art as you explore Mesa Verde National Park.

Pack a cooler and enjoy a picnic lunch on your scenic drive. The park is spread out and you will want to stay hydrated and keep your energy up as you explore this beautiful national park. Have plenty of water in tow and have your camera ready at all times. The best tip I can give you is to visit during the golden hour, as sunrise and sunset offer some beautiful photo opportunities.

monticello in Virginia

Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville

Annick  |  The Common Traveler

Monticello was the home of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.  The residence of the author of the declaration of independence, and the neighboring University of Virginia, harken back to our history and the early days of our nation. The home and gardens reflect his skills as both an architect and gardener. Monticello frequently ranks as one of the best museums in the South. A visit to Monticello gives insight to life in the 1700s in the United States. The inside portions take about an hour to tour. But many portions are outside and involve walking – so comfortable shoes and weather appropriate gear are a must. Time your visit either for early in the morning or late in the afternoon during June to September to get the best experience in the gardens – and to avoid the hottest and most crowded portions of the day.

Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point

Annick  |  The Common Traveler

You’ll find the Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point in the Lower Mississippi Valley in Epps, Louisiana. These earthen monuments built around 3,700 to 3,100 years ago by a population of hunter-fisher-gatherers, reflect an anomaly to what was considered typical for that culture.

So what exactly is this monument? Earth has been moved into six concentric mounds and crescent ridges. The massive 72-foot-tall mound was shaped by the American Indians using only their hands and baskets. The creation of these elevations protected the residents from the frequent flooding in the area.

This is probably one of the most underrated UNESCO sites in the US, perhaps because it isn’t easy to photograph. Yes, you’re looking at dirt mounds but have to appreciate what they meant in the historical context of the lack of modern tools and technology,  and remind us of other mysterious structures throughout the world.

stone building with archways

El Convento at Mission San Jose – Photo by Annick Lenoir-Peek @TheCommonTraveler

San Antonio Missions

Annick  | The Common Traveler

Most people are familiar with the most well-known of the five San Antonio Missions – The Alamo. At a time when the Spanish established their presence in the area, it was the church that laid the foundation for creating communities. The missions have been preserved and include displays reflecting life as it changed over the years. They still have active congregations so be mindful as you enter the churches.

A tour of all five missions will take several hours, especially if you’re taking the Via bus, instead of a guided tour. If you’re limited on time, visit Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose and the Alamo. Even more limited on time? Visit The Alamo only. Access a free audio tour for each property on your smartphone at WorldHeritageSA.com.

Here’s a detailed post on visiting the five missions: San Antonio Missions

statue of liberty

Photo by James @ Travel Collecting

The Statue of Liberty

James | Travel Collecting

The Statue of Liberty stands at the entrance to New York Harbor, an iconic welcome to countless of immigrants over the years, and now a must-see tourist site for visitors to New York City.  It was a gift from France, designed by Bartholdi, built by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame, and opened on October 28, 1886.  It is now a symbol of New York and, indeed, America.

Ferries leave from Battery Park at the bottom tip of Manhattan and from Liberty State Park in New Jersey.  Ferry tickets include both Liberty Island (which is actually a tiny National Park) and Ellis Island, where there is an interesting immigration museum.  There are wonderful views of downtown Manhattan from the ferry, so stand outside to get great photos.

There are three options for tickets: to visit just the islands; to also visit the pedestal that the Statue of Liberty stands on; and to climb a narrow staircase to the top of her crown. Visiting the crown is an interesting experience, but don’t expect Manhattan views – Lady Liberty faces outwards, so the views are of Brooklyn and the New York Harbor.  Lines for the ferries can get long, and there is strict security in Manhattan and New Jersey, so I always recommend getting there early for the first (9:00am) ferry of the day, especially if you want to visit Ellis Island, the pedestal and/ or the crown. Read more blogs on Travel Collecting.

Taos pueblo

Taos Pueblo

Annick  |  The Common Traveler

When people think of New Mexico, they frequently picture adobe homes. Located just three miles from the city of Taos, New Mexico,Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark . The adobe homes here have been inhabited for over 1000 years. In addition to living here, artisans sell their wares in shops in these homes. While visiting savor a dish made with a recipe handed down over the generations.

Enjoy a free walking tour with a local guide who not only tells the history of the people, but also what it is like to live there now. Expect to spend about two hours exploring. The people are engaging and you’re encouraged to interact. Please be respectful of the culture though! Make sure to check the official website before planning your trip in case a special event is taking place at that time. And don’t forget that there is a fee to enter the town. Experience Native American life in a preserved setting.

Natural

UNESCO also recognizes natural sites around the world that are unique because of the environment.

beach at Carlsbad

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Annick  |  The Common Traveler

Located in the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico, this park has over 100 caves. Visit late May through October to participate in the Bat Flight Program offered by the park rangers. Because the caves can be wet and slippery, visitors should wear closed-toe shoes with non-slip soles – hiking boots are even better and required for some of the ranger-led tours offered. Most of the self-guided trails are not very challenging so it’s a great family destination.

Save money by flying into El Paso, Texas, and driving two hours, as opposed to flying directly into Carlsbad, New Mexico. And don’t forget that while it may be blistering hot outside during the summer, it will be cool inside and you should bring a sweatshirt.

alligator in swamp

Photo by Chris W. from CTB Global® (Chris Travel Blog)

Everglades National Park

Chris  |  Chris Travel Blog

The Everglades National Park is a unique eco system located in southern Florida and a visit should be included on any south Florida itinerary. Since 1979 it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It can be visited year-round but in the wetter season from June to October some facilities might be closed. Make sure to bring sunblock and anti-mosquito spray as at times they are everywhere. As the park is way too large to visit in a day the following two separate day trip suggestions will give the best impression of the various eco systems.

For a first-time visitor it’s recommend doing several of the shorter hikes ranging from 300 meters to 2 kilometers along the main Everglades road. Enter the Everglades National Park at the Ernest Coe Visitors Center. From there just follow the signs to each hiking trail. In order from entrance to the end at Flamingo Visitors Center: Anhinga & Gumbo Limbo Trail, Three-in-one Hiking Trail, Pinelands Trail, Pa-hay-okee Trail, Mahogany Hammock Trail, and the West Lake Trail. If you have hiked all these, you have seen all the various eco systems of the Everglades National Park. If you have time left, you can make a boat tour at the Flamingo Visitors Center.

If you want more activity, then another option for a day trip is to go to Shark Valley. There aren’t any sharks as the name suggests but plenty of other wildlife including alligators. The loop is 10 kilometers long and can easily be walked but bicycles are available for rent at the visitor’s center too. Shark Valley has a variety of eco systems and a great lookout tower too. Just down highway 41 you can do a fan boat race. These are done just outside of the Everglades National Park and are a lot of fun.

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon by Marta Correale @LearningEscapes

Grand Canyon National Park

Marta  |  Learning Escapes

The Grand Canyon is one of the most famous natural wonders in the United States if not in the world and indeed, it is hard not to get overwhelmed but its size and beauty. Located in Arizona, in the South West of the USA, the canyon has been carved by the mighty Colorado river and has impressive stats: it is nearly 1500 meters deep, over 440 Km long and has a geological history of about 6 million years ago, all documented in the very many strata of the canyon rocks!

Enjoying the Grand Canyon as a visitor is easy.

The easiest part of the canyon to access and the best equipped to welcome travellers is the South Rim. This area is located about 4 hours from Las Vegas and it is easy to reach by car or train.

The park is well equipped with hotels, lodges, shops and restaurants. It is managed by the National Park Service and this means it also has good visitors center with information and tips on how to enjoy it.

You can visit the canyon in as little as one day but if you love outdoor pursuits, it is worth spending longer to take some of the several available hikes, explore the park by bike or even see it from the water while rafting. The South rim is open all year round.

For a more secluded and contemplative experience, the best location is on the other side of the canyon, on the North rim. Very different from its Southern counterpart, the North Rim is only open part of the year (it closes in winter due to harsh weather conditions) and is visited by a fraction of the crowds making it a perfect place for a quieter and more relaxing getaway.

Great Smoky Mountains

Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Annick  |  The Common Traveler

Did you know that this is the most visited national park? The Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers bordering areas of North Carolina and Tennessee. Popular with hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, the Appalachian Trail crosses right through the park. Enter the park through the South near Cherokee, North Carolina or through the North, using the Sugarlands entrance near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Visit the Chimney Tops trail, about two miles, to see magnificent views of the cloud covered mountains. Drive the 11-mile loop Cades Cove, taking approximately two to four hours to see wildlife.

Want to visit an Appalachian community and logging town? Visit the Elkmont Historic District. Today, it houses a campground, ranger station, and a resort with cottages. The more adventurous might enjoy ahike to LeConte Lodge, a rustic lodge only accessible by foot.

There are many stunning waterfalls in the area as well. But if you don’t feel like hiking, three of them can be seen by driving to them: Meigs Falls, The Sinks, and Place of a Thousand Drops.

smoke from volcano in Hawaii

Hawaii Volcano Park- Travel By A Sherrie Affair

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Sherrie Fabrizi Allbritten

Sherrie  |  Travel by a Sherrie Affair

A vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii is always an exciting and full of exploration time.  One place that should not be skipped on your itinerary is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Hawaii contains two of the most active volcanoes in the world.  They are named Kilauea and Mauna Loa.  These two volcanoes are making new earth every day.  It is the only place in earth that new earth is being created.

Due to recent volcano activity the park has just reopened.  There are areas that you have to be very careful safety wise.  It is always necessary to follow all instructions and guidelines when visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Visitors can drive into the park themselves or take many of the tours that are offered.  There is also public transportation called Hele on Bus, however it will just bring you to the park, it does not make stops within the park.

In the park itself you can visit the crater, go to the museum to learn a lot about the volcanoes, hike, drive different routes, view some wildlife.  There is also an After Dark in the Park to see the red glow coming from the crater.

One of the best ways to see the park is in a helicopter.  With a birds eye view and the helicopter pilots informative knowledge you will see and learn things while enjoying the beauty of the park.

Glacier Bay - lake with ice and mountains covered in snow

Kluane / Wrangell-St. Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek

Sage  |  Everyday Wanderer

As we drifted silently on the smooth, glassy waters on a crisp morning with a touch of fog surrounding us, I thought of my friends back home. It was a particularly hot and humid August back home, and the temperatures barely dipped below 90F at night. But here, on the deck of the ship, bundled up in a thick sweater, with a steaming cup of coffee in my gloved hands, I joked with my traveling companion that we were definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Just ahead, the jagged edges of an iceberg towered above the surface. As we inched closer, our guide explained that the blueish tint in the packed ice wasn’t the reflection from the water below or the sky above. Rather, it is common in older glaciers formed from tightly compacted ice over hundreds of years. Out on the still water, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and imposing icebergs, our group was relatively silent as we breathed in the fresh air and absorbed the amazing wilderness that surrounded us. And that made it easy for us to hear the loud crack as a slab of ice broke off from the glacier, crumbling into smaller chunks as it eventually bobbed in the icy water below.

While Alaska’s Glacier Bay is known as a marine park, famous for its tidewater glaciers, its 5,130 square miles also include rugged mountains and thick forests. In addition to exploring this untouched wilderness by boat, be sure to allow time to hike the trails, explore the coast at low tide, and visit the Huna Tribal House.

waterfall looking up at water from bottom edge

Photo by Roxanna Keyes @GypsyWithADayJob

Mammoth Cave National Park

Roxanna  |  Gypsy With a Day Job

One of my favorite UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States is Mammoth Cave National Park.  Mammoth Cave was inducted into the list of Heritage Sites on 3 separate criteria: superlative natural phenomenon, representing major stages of earth’s history through significant physiographic features, and being an important natural habitat for conservation of biological diversity.  While Mammoth Cave is all of those things, what I love about it is that is a interesting and fun place to visit at any age.

Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave system in the world, with over 412 miles of explored passages, located in west-central Kentucky.  The cave includes both wet and dry portions, so in contains every known cave formation within the system. The karst topography impacts the landscape far beyond the cave though, as the surface is marked by sinkholes, bluffs, waterfalls, and stunning overlooks, with the Green and Nolan Rivers flowing through.

There are many things to do when visiting Mammoth Cave, but the cave tours are the highlight.  There are about 15 different tour options, from a self guided discovery tour, to a lantern lit night time exploration, so there is something for every cave lover.  Other activities in the park include a museum, hiking trails and campgrounds, horseback riding, mountain biking, kayaking and canoeing on the rivers, fishing, and historic sites to explore.  There is also a Junior Ranger program, that enables children to earn a National Park Service Junior Ranger badge through completing a number of educational activities within the park.

Mammoth Cave can be visited as a day trip, but for those wishing to spend some time in the area, there is a lodge and cabin rentals available in the National Park.  There are also 2 restaurant options that serve a variety of delicious options, including locally sourced fare, a camp store and Post Office, and 2 gift shops.

sunset over the sea stacks at Second Beach, La Push, Washington.

Sunset over the sea stacks at Second Beach, La Push, Washington – Photo by Christa Rolls @ExpeditionWildlife

Olympic National Park

Christa  |  Expedition Wildlife

Olympic National Park in Washington State is a stunning and unique natural gem. It is also home to eight Olympic Peninsula tribes and serves as a site of significant traditional land use and origins.

Long stretches of wilderness coastline, expanses of temperate rainforest, mountain valley grasslands, flower-hewn alpine prairies, and glaciers are just a handful of the unique habitats found within this 3,734 km² National Park. There are endless hiking opportunities through the mountains and along the beaches, and all manner of wildlife can be
found, including mountain goats, black bear, marmots, and cougars in the mountains to thousands of sea and shore birds and even whales on the coast. Hop in your car or catch a ferry to Port Angeles or Port Townsend, the gateways to the Olympics, and try out some of these amazing opportunities:

Experience beautiful sunsets from La Push and Shi Shi beaches, where sea stacks jut out of the Pacific Ocean to meet the sky. Take a drive up to Hurricane Ridge for easy access to the mountains and incredible views of the mountain ranges (roads may be closed in wintertime). Swim in Crescent Lake to appreciate the serenity that pristine, glacial waters
offer its visitors. Hike through the Hoh Rainforest to feel as though you’ve stepped back into the Cretaceous Period. Go tubing on Lake Cushman and take the challenging hike up (or snowshoe) to Mount Ellinor for great views of Seattle and the Cascade Range.

Check out the Washington Trails Association website for information on all the hikes in the Park, including trail conditions and permitting requirements. Bear canisters are required in some wilderness locations of the Park – visit one of the many Ranger Stations to obtain camping permits, secure a bear canister, obtain maps, and learn tons of other
useful information!

redwood trees

Redwood National and State Parks

Annick  |  The Common Traveler

When people think of Redwood National and State Parks, they think tall trees. And while it is certainly the most well-known feature of these parks, it isn’t the only one. Although there is a Redwood National Park, the complex generally encompasses a series of parks. The parks include woods, prairies, riverways and even 40 miles of coastline.

Check in with the Visitors Center and talk to the park rangers. They can update you on weather conditions and even make recommendations on what to see and do while you’re there. Hiking among the redwoods is a mystical experience. Choose a trail depending on the amount of time you have to explore and be awed by nature. Do mind the signs since elk, bears and mountain lion inhabit the area, which is why only service animals are allowed on the trails.

Don’t miss the over 1500 years old Big Tree near the Prairie Creek Visitor Center. Two trails are especially popular with visitors. The first, the Simpson-Reed Grove in Jedediah Smith Redwoods Park, is an easy one mile loop trail with easy access and parking. You’ll feel transported back in time while walking among the 1000 year old trees. The second, Tall Tree Grove, features a four mile round trip trail and you will need to get a permit to visit.

Waterton-Glacier Park

Waterton-Glacier Photo by Scott @QuirkyTravelGuy

Waterton Glacier International Peace Park

Scott  |  Quirky Travel Guy

The world gained its first international peace park in 1932 when neighboring national parks Glacier (Montana) and Waterton Lakes (Alberta, Canada) were joined to form Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

The parks still maintain their own identities and have separate entry fees, and you will need a passport if you travel between them. Both parks have dozens of challenging hiking trails and several large lakes that offer kayaking opportunities. Grizzly bears, mountain goats, wolves, moose, and bighorn sheep roam these parks, and the wildlife is relatively easy to spot by national park standards.

Make sure to drive the full length of Going-to-the-Sun Road, as it’s generally considered one of the best scenic drives in America. The ideal time to visit is between late June through early September, when the snow has fully melted and the main roads are all open.

Waterton-Glacier is a great road trip destination, for two reasons: the mountainous scenery is impressive, and there are no major airports nearby. The closest airport is in Kalispell, 30 minutes from Glacier. Calgary is about three hours from Waterton by car, and Spokane, Washington, is about five hours away.

One note of caution: overcrowding is becoming a problem as more and more tourists arrive each year. If you plan to go camping here (and you should!), try to book your reservations months in advance to avoid being shut out. If you want to do any day hikes from Logan Pass Visitor Center in Glacier, arrive before 8 am, or you might find the parking lot full.

baby animal in Yellowstone

Photo by Sage of Everyday Wanderer

Yellowstone National Park

Sage  |   Everyday Wanderer

With the stroke of a pen, crossing the “t” in his last name, President Grant created America’s first national park in 1872. Spanning the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, today nearly four million people flock to Yellowstone annually. While it is one of nearly 60 national parks in the US, the nation’s first national park will spoil you for all others. Why? Because it’s hard to visit Yellowstone National Park without observing some of the hundreds of animal species that roam the park in their natural habitat. But with this opportunity comes a responsibility to respect Mother Nature and all of her creatures.

Yellowstone National Park is not a petting zoo. When you see a herd of bison crossing the road, a bear cub frolicking on a hill, or an elk grazing in a wildflower-filled meadow, remember that you need to keep a safe distance. That means staying 100 yards from bears and wolves and 25 yards from all other animals.

Yellowstone National Park has more than 10,000 geysers, mudpots, steam vents, and hot springs, giving you the opportunity to explore the world’s largest collection of geysers and geothermal water. While some of the deep blue and rainbow-colored pools look cool and inviting, they are the exact opposite. Boiling hot. Stay on the boardwalks in these areas at all times. They aren’t there for your convenience, but for your safety.

The wild, natural beauty of Yellowstone National Park nearly guarantees that you’ll encounter wildflowers, antlers, bones, rocks, pine cones, arrowheads, and other artifacts. If each of the four million annual park visitors picked just one wildflower, that’s four million fewer flowers for the animals and insects that depend upon them. Plus also? It’s illegal. Capture the amazing experience of visiting America’s first national park by taking pictures instead.

Yosemite Park view

Photo by Chris W. from CTB Global® (Chris Travel Blog)

Yosemite National Park

Chris  |  Chris Travel Blog

Yosemite National Park is one of the most iconic US UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A visit must be included on any US west coast road trip itinerary. If you plan to hike the longer trails you need several days in the park but you can see all the different aspects of the park in two days: one day for Yosemite Valley and another for Tioga Pass Road. The park is best visited from spring to autumn as Tioga Road closes in winter as do several other places of interest. Check the national parks website for current information.

Yosemite National Park was formed thousands of years ago by glaciers. You can see granite rocks and cliffs, waterfalls, meadows, and pine forest. If you have just a day the following stops are highly recommended in Yosemite Valley: Glacier Points to see Half Dome, Tunnel View, Bridal Falls trail, Cathedral Beach Picnic Area (for a quick lunch), Mirror Lake (only if there is water and/or you have time), Lower Falls Loop trail and finish the day at the Sentinel Meadows. An overnight stay in Yosemite Valley allows you to see and do more.

The Tioga Pass Road is another day trip which takes you all the way to Mono Lake. Mono Lake is not part of Yosemite National Park and not a UNESCO site but well worth stopping at the end of the day. Keep in mind that after snowfall the Tioga Pass Road is closed. You probably want to stop everywhere along Tioga Pass Road, but the best stops are: Half Dome View, Tuolumne Meadows (stop here on the way back at dawn too to spot deer), Ellery Lake to have lunch, swim, and kayak and finally Mono Lake. You can then either continue elsewhere or drive the same way back.

Mixed

Papahānaumokuākea

Annick   |  The Common Traveler

In 2010, UNESCO recognized that this area of Hawaii not only encompasses a unique natural environment but a cultural one as well. Papahānaumokuākea embodies the union of the natural maritime environment with cultural connections to the sea, such as the traditional double-hulled sailing canoes, navigated without the use of instruments. Papahānaumokuākea ensures ecological integrity and strives for the long-term protection and perpetuation of Northwestern Hawaiian Island ecosystems, Native Hawaiian culture, and heritage resources.

We hope you enjoyed this list with tips for visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States. Leave us a comment if you’ve got some additional tips to share!

Happy travels!

Annick, The Common Traveler

Check out what travel bloggers have to say about the 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the US. #UNESCO #USUNESCOCheck out what travel bloggers have to say about the 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the US. #UNESCO #USUNESCO