The United States National Monuments are part of the United States National Park System. Unlike United States National Parks, they can be created by presidential proclamation without an act of Congress. Accordingly, they may be a step down from the national parks in general, but they are still spectacular and fascinating pieces of natural scenery and national history; many of these places could be the highlight of a major trip or could be worth a whole trip on their own.
The map markers in this article are roughly color-coded by each monument’s main draw: gray for historic sites, maroon for Native American prehistoric sites, and green for nature. Of course, many of the monuments have some combination of these features: natural formations of historic importance, prehistoric sites surrounded by natural scenery, and so on.
- 1 Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Federal Hill, Baltimore— Site of a famous battle in the War of 1812 where Francis Scott Key saw the American flag still flying over the fort and composed the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner, which later became the country’s national anthem.