UNESCO World Heritage Sites I’ve Visited in North America

This post was on my list to blog about over the summer after reading an article about World Heritage Sites & doing a little research to see what ones I may have visited but (a) I didn’t get to it before the start of the blog vacation and (b) I added to my list of visited sites this summer.

We all know of the major UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Machu Picchu, Petra, Angkor Wat, The Great Wall, and the Acropolis, but have you thought about the lesser known ones that are in your own backyard? There are so many worldwide that its possible you’ve been to one and not known it!

Here’s the UNESCO World Heritage Sites here in North America I’ve visited (with and without realizing it) so far …

(some of these have older watermarks since I’m pulling them from older posts here on RB … photos marked pixabay.com are due to those travels being in the film days & having no patience when it comes to digging through the boxes of prints my parents have!)

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Grand Canyon National Park

I’ve been to the Grand Canyon twice in my life — once at age five and again shortly before I turned 17. It was as amazing the second time around as it was to five-year old me. I need to get back there and experience it as a 30 something … and hike a trail or two!

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Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Just before I went to work full-time after college, my family and I ventured out to southeastern New Mexico for four or five days. Carlsbad was a place my dad had been to previously, but not the rest of us. I was a bit underwhelmed for whatever reason — I guess being more impressed as a child visiting several other caverns in the Texas Hill Country and northern Arkansas just mean that Carlsbad didn’t have anything that was any more special than those caverns had.

Mission Concepcion - San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio Missions (a recent addition to the WHS list!)

Another site I’ve been to (well part of it) twice before — once in 2006 and again in 2011. Most people aren’t aware that the Alamo isn’t the only mission in San Antonio — there’s actually four more missions in the southern part of the city that are a national historic park: San Jose, Concepcion (above), San Juan, and Espada. The UNESCO WHS also includes the Alamo, which is now overseen by the Texas General Land Office. If there’s one part of Texas History I love the most, it’s the missions.

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Yellowstone National Park

The great supervolcano that is Yellowstone is gorgeous and so diverse in its landscapes — and understandably it became America’s first national park. Steaming geysers, icy rivers, green meadows, and everything in between — that’s just some of what one gets to experience when traversing the boundaries of the national park, which I only got to see part of back in 2009.

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Waterton Glacier International Peace Park

Technically Glacier and Waterton are two parks in two countries that adjoin one another in the Rockies. But they are also one large International Peace Park. Waterton has a small outdoor exhibit about the Peace Park down in the township near the harbor and there’s also a marker outside of Glacier Park Hotel if memory serves me correctly. Another park (well two) I need to get back and see the parts I was short on time in getting to see.

Mesa Verde National Park - near Cortez, Colorado by Christina McCall

Mesa Verde National Park

Its amazing what those who lived hundreds and thousands of years ago were able to create with tools and technology they had at the time — and there’s no better place to see it preserved than in the American southwest, as it is at Mesa Verde. Spruce House (above) is just one of the ‘houses’ that are available to visitors to explore.

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Yosemite National Park

One of the two newest checks on my list of UNESCO sites I’ve visited is Yosemite (this is near Glacier Point). There were stunning and tranquil vistas everywhere we looked — I felt like I was staring at a painting more often than not when looking out in the distance.

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Redwoods National & State Parks

I’m pretty short — but these gentle giants along the northern California coast (as well as their cousin the Giant Sequoias in the Sierra Nevadas) made me feel even smaller. There’s some pretty old and tall pines and oaks here in East Texas, but they have nothing on these sequoias.

Besides these sites in North America, I’ve also been to two in Austria that are on the list as well — the Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn and Historic Centre of Vienna.

Have you visited a UNESCO World Heritage site? Is there one (or more) that are on your must visit places list? 

The American ‘Matterhorn’

many-glacier-hotel-christinamccallMany Glacier Hotel and Swiftcurrent Lake – Glacier National Park, Montana

Did I just reference a mountain in the Alps and call it American?

Yes I did.

Backstory — the 83 year old hoot of a Park Ranger that we got to learn about the park’s history from one of the evenings we stayed in Glacier NP talked about how the Hill’s, James J. and Louis to be exact — the railroading magnets behind the Great Northern Railroad and the Glacier Lodges — brought in ‘little Swiss misses from St. Paul, Minnesota’ to greet tourists as they arrive.

Why, you ask?

Well, at least (in my humble opinion) the setting where the Many Glacier Hotel is located, it could very well be smack in the middle of Switzerland. And the accents around the lodge — from the crests to the red cross (aka the Swiss flag) on all of the room doors — made me feel like I was back in the Alps ever so briefly.

… and this is why I referenced Switzerland — doesn’t the above setting scream “Matterhorn”?

woman-at-many-glacier-hotel-christinamccallWait, is that the grown up version of Heidi?

Many Glacier Hotel and Swiftcurrent Lake are located west of Babb, Montana within Glacier National Park

Northern Sunsets

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Muted sunset view from Lake McDonald Lodge – Glacier National Park, Montana

Living in the southern United States, we’re used to the sun setting by 8:30 in the evening, so enjoying this muted sunset at 9:30 pm in mid June 2009 while at Glacier National Park was a treat. There are a lot of things I love/enjoy about the northern latitudes / higher altitudes, the sunsets being near the top of that list. The mosquitoes that ate me alive while I snapped this and a number of other lakeshore images that evening, not so much.

If someone could explain why mosquitoes must continue to exist on earth, I’d be glad to hear it. Might not agree with the reasoning, but I’ll hear it out at least 😉

Curious when the sun will rise or set in a destination you’re traveling to? Pop over to Time and Date to find out. Many smaller towns aren’t listed — just type in the name of a larger city nearby.

Ever wonder when the latest a sunset will be where you live or are traveling? This article on EarthSky explains when as well as how.

The Stratotanker

stratotanker-MAFB-montana-christinamccallStratotanker at Malmstrom AFB’s Museum – Great Falls, Montana

Back in 2009, while visiting a friend who lived in Great Falls at the time, we visited the museum at Malmstrom AFB that she’d told us about. Outside this tiny building that houses the museum is a variety of military equipment — vehicles, planes, and even an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile).  The ICBM stands out because its so tall … but then there’s this big guy, the stratotanker, that’s bigger than anything else there, including the museum. See that guy under the wing to the right? Say hello to my dad, an Army vet who was having a field day seeing all the equipment outside as well as in the museum and telling us about the ones he recognized from the Vietnam era when he served.

If you’re ever in Great Falls, visit the Malmstrom Museum … there so much history to see and learn about in such a small space!

Jackson Lake

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Jackson Lake – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

While Grand Teton National Park is known and famous for the Teton Range views as well as Mormon Row, its this early morning view of Jackson Lake that I loved most about our visit. This photo is also one of my favorites from all the travel images I’ve taken, so much that I’ve used it for my blog advertising over the last year.