Treasured Places to Celebrate this 4th of July
Millions of Americans make it a tradition to celebrate our country’s independence with outdoor activities. In these troubling economic times, many of those celebrations will take place close to home and on some our country’s most treasured public lands—lands that belong to each and every American.
From National Parks and National Monuments to wilderness areas, our open spaces provide a great opportunity to celebrate America’s heritage as many of our ancestors have. The Wilderness Society encourages everyone to get outdoors, recreate, and enjoy the freedom to roam the outdoors.
“Many Americans will flock to some of our country’s most popular national monuments, like the Statue of Liberty.” said Nada Culver, director of The Wilderness Society’s BLM Action Center. “But people might not realize that there are a lot of historical events that have taken place on public lands across the country. These are spectacular places that belong to all of us, and we hope that many families will make their own memories on these lands and develop stories that can be told for generations to come.”
Below are just a few treasured places to celebrate this 4th of July:
- The Colorado National Monument is one of those places where America’s patriotic heritage is alive and well. John Otto is known as the “Father of Colorado National Monument.” He was known for his patriotism and named many of the features in the monument after American events or ideals, such as the towering rocks named Independence Monument and Liberty Cap. Otto climbed peaks in the monument on July 4th and Flag Day to raise flags and celebrate the freedom that our public lands provide. One of his famous ascents happened at Independence Monument on the July 4th, 1911, just shortly after President Taft signed the proclamation that has permanently protected the area. To date, many still climb Independence Monument to raise Old Glory on the 4th of July, and this year’s celebration will be extra special, with the monument celebrating its 100th anniversary.
- Devil’s Tower National Monument, in Wyoming, was America’s first national monument. Before it was declared a monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, it was known as a 4th of July meeting place for families and ranchers in the area. In 1893 local ranchers Bill Rogers and Willard Ripley climbed to the top of the tower as a Fourth of July stunt. The two built a makeshift ladder up the side and placed a flag pole at summit. A couple of years later, Roger’s wife became the first woman to reach the top. Parts of the ladder still remain today.
- Just about one hour northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, sits Gold Butte, a 350,000-acre natural playground with unique geology, fragile wildlife species, and historical petroglyphs and prehistoric dwellings. The region’s spectacular cultural resources, such as prehistoric rock shelters and roasting pits dating back over 4,000 years are considered sacred grounds to our country’s first inhabitants, and pose mysteries, such as what the “Falling Man” might signify. Encompassing the Great Basin, Mojave, Sonoran, and Colorado Plateau desert life zones, Gold Butte is home to a variety of desert animals, such as the desert tortoise, desert bighorn sheep, golden eagles, and plants such as the only pocket of Arizona cypress in Nevada. An effort is underway to permanently protect Gold Butte to ensure families will always have access to this unparalleled experience.
- Mule Canyon Wilderness Study Area (WSA) and Fish and Owl Creek Canyons Proposed Wilderness (partially WSA) are all in Utah’s famous Red Rock country and reachable by local roads. The red rock, white clouds, and blue skies that can be viewed on a nice summer morning hike provide a wonderful natural reminder of our American flag’s colors and the spirit of the Fourth.
- Independence Creek Wilderness Study Area (WSA) in California is located near Scenic Highway 395 in the Owens Valley, between Death Valley National Park and the John Muir Wilderness. It is just eight miles from the town of Independence which got its name from Camp Independence, a military outpost established on July 4, 1862. Despite its many natural wilderness qualities, the BLM has not recommended it as “suitable” for wilderness designation to Congress. For now, you can still enjoy this Independence Day in the Independence Creek WSA while you still have access to clear water streams, brown and rainbow trout, and the other wonders of this wild area.
“It is in the spirit of independence and self-determination that some of our most prized landscapes, such as the Grand Canyon and the Grand Staircase have been designated for the use and enjoyment of both present and future generations of all Americans,” said Culver. “Our public lands allow us the freedom to explore the outdoors. They are home to the resources that make our country prosperous, and are a source of pride that comes from protecting the untamed frontiers of our country.”