UNESCO, an arm of the United Nations, has established a list of the World Heritage Sites, the Earth’s most significant places, based on historical, cultural, and aesthetic considerations. These places should be preserved so that all mankind can appreciate their legacy, their significance, and their beauty. The United States is blessed with many (20) places, most of them natural areas, which fit the criteria and are included on the list. I have visited almost all of them and so will present them in three (3) installments.
This northern group of American World Heritage Sites is renowned primarily for natural beauty and thus have been designated national parks.
Glacier Bay (along with Kluane, Wrangell-St Elias, and Tatshenshini-Alsek in BC) are Alaskan natural areas which capture and display this state’s incredible beauty.
Olympic National Park, Olympic Peninsula, Washington — This huge park features three (3) distinct and dramatically different ecosystems in close proximity to one another. There are mountains represented by Hurricane Ridge;
Middle Latitude Rain Forest as exemplified by the Hoh Rain Forest;
and pristine seashore, beautifully demonstrated by Ruby Beach.
Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is a ground-breaking joint venture between the US and Canada, in which adjacent parks in the two countries have been combined into a single, vast area of preservation and enjoyment. Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta
has been combined with Glacier National Park in northern Montana
to form this unprecedented symbol of international cooperation.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming — America’s (and also the world’s) first and most beloved national park is a wonderland of thermal features,
Yosemite National Park, California — Made famous by John Muir and Ansel Adams, this picturesque valley carved by glaciers has become the epitome of scenic America. The park sports several icons of photography, instantly recognized by people all over the world, such as, half dome
and Yosemite Falls.