America's Most Beautiful Landmarks
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While the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and Mount Fuji may be the first images that come to mind when we picture beautiful landmarks, the truth is that there are numerous dazzling sights—both natural and man-made—right here in the United States.
The past century-and-a-half has seen the creation of two organizations that work together to protect America’s national treasures. After the first national park, Yellowstone, was established in 1872 to protect the natural beauty of its world-famous geyser basins and wildlife, the U.S. National Park Service was founded in 1916—and now oversees the preservation of 58 parks around the country. Later, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 created the National Register of Historic Places, to protect landmarks that specifically illustrate the heritage of the United States.
Not all of the landmarks on our list have been officially designated as state parks or National Historic Places. And, on their surface, many of them may seem dissimilar: one is an extraordinary (and still active) volcano, while another is a lighthouse; one is a mighty waterfall, while another is a centuries-old desert adobe settlement. But what’s amazing is that these landmarks, disparate though they are, share a home right here on U.S. soil. And all of them have played a part, however small, in our national history.
More than 750,000 gallons of water per second thunder down this iconic 167-foot waterfall—the most powerful on the North American continent. The falls straddle the border between the U.S. and Canada, and though some argue that Horseshoe Falls—set on the Ontario side—is more spectacular than the smaller American Falls, the landmark has held a particular place in American history ever since 1901, when Michigan schoolteacher Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to go over the falls (and survive) in a barrel.
How to See It: Take a half-hour water tour on the Maid of the Mist ferry, which has boarding docks in both countries.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, South Dakota
Carved into a granite mountain face in South Dakota’s southwesterly Black Hills, this sculpture of four of America’s most influential presidents (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt) was considered an extraordinary feat of engineering when it was completed in 1941—and it’s still majestic today, bringing in more than two million visitors per year.