The Top Ten Potential Future National Monuments - Page 2
|Picture of the San Juan Islands, Washington (Sunset Avenue Productions/Digital Vision/Getty)|
5. Modoc Plateau, CA
These three million picturesque acres dominate the northeast corner of California, where a million years ago flowing lava piled up to form the 5,000-foot-high plateau. There's not much this region doesn't have—except, perhaps, people. Sturdy mountain mahogany and juniper woodlands span the high desert, along with breezy aspens, fragrant sagebush, and golden grasslands. Springs, vernal pools, mountain streams, and alpine lakes all support an outstanding abundance of wildlife, including waterfowl—like the Sandhill cranes and American white pelicans—that make this area an annual stop along the Pacific Flyway. Mountain lions, pronghorn, and mule deer roam this intact wilderness, which also includes crown jewel locales like Surprise Valley, the Warner Mountains and the stunning Skeedadles.
Additional Information at the Department of Fish and Game
4. Heart of the Great Basin, NV
This massive monument would string together several wilderness areas in central Nevada, which encompass three impressive mountain stretches—the Toiyab, Toquima, and Monitor ranges. It's the seldom-seen untamed soul of the state 200 miles west of Great Basin National Park, where creeks cut across the landscape, glacial cirques and moraines make their mark on 12,000-foot peaks, and patches of pine trees and aspen groves adorn the landscape. Also not to be missed are the thousands of stone artifacts and petroglyphs left by this area's first inhabitants nearly 12,000 years ago.
Additional Information at the U.S. Forest Service
3. Vermillion Basin, CO
Tucked into the northwest corner of Colorado, this sagebrush sea marked by lazy rivers, rolling hills, and brilliant red rock is a well-kept secret from all but a handful of locals (and the big game species that use it as a critical migration corridor and winter hang-out). Mule deer, elk, and antelope wander through winding, petroglyph-filled canyons and amidst buttes, blooming cacti, and rock cliffs. Sage grouse show off with elaborate mating dances beneath big skies with a backdrop of solitude that only truly wild places have to offer.
Additional Information at Save Vermillion
2. San Juan Islands, WA
Scattered throughout northern Puget Sound off the coast of Seattle reside the 700 or so islands that make up the San Juans. They vary from wave-washed islets to larger forested and grass-covered islands. Most are rugged and wind-swept, providing crucial habitat for resident wildlife. Bald eagles nest in the tops of pine and fir forests and hunt for fish in abundant waters below. Grassy isles are popular nesting spots for seabirds, including gulls and cormorants. Rocky beaches and reefs draw harbor seals to rest and birth. The deep channels surrounding the islands are frequented by Stellar sea lions and orca, humpback, gray, and killer whales. Eighty three of the San Juans, totaling roughly 450 acres, have already been designated as a national wildlife refuge. Of those, humans are welcome to hike and bird watch on only two (Matia and Turn), but sailing and paddling among all of them is possible.
Additional Information at San Yuan National Historical Park
1. San Rafael Swell, UT
While this spot in south-central Utah is visibly dominated by a rock dome that measures 75 miles by 40, it has so much more desert landscape to offer. The Swell, just 155 miles south of Salt Lake City, is bisected by Interstate 70, which is the only paved road within these 650,000 stunning acres of the Colorado Plateau. Its northern half boasts rock gashes like the Little Grand Canyon, cut continuously by the San Rafael River, and Buckhorn Wash, a narrow gorge flanked by sheer, red sandstone walls. To the south the San Rafael Reef's jagged relief features lofty rock arches, towering mesas, and peaks that reach nearly 8,000 feet. Throughout the Swell there are dozens of opportunities to hike, camp, and picnic; look for ancient Indian rock art; and see some of the area's residents, including desert big horn sheep, wild horses, eagles, cougars, and coyotes.
Additional Information at the Bureau of Land Management