10 natural wonders to experience before they disappear forever

By Meg Butler
October 26, 2017, 1:24:23 PM EDT

America's national parks and monuments are at risk.

Hopefully “Remember the Sequoias?” is something that we’ll never have to say. But just in case, you should probably see these national monuments before they lose their protected status.

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The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
WHERE: Utah

parks 1

(Photo/Kojihirano/Dreamstime.com)


Not that there was a lot of competition, but Utah’s grand staircase is one of the world’s most breathtaking natural staircases.

Each step takes hikers down through layers of history, 200 million years in total. Erosion of the sedimentary rock reveals prehistoric plants, vegetables, animals and the largest collection of dinosaur fossils found anywhere in the world.

But you’ll need more than one vacation day to see it. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is huge–roughly the size of Delaware–with plenty of rock formations, hiking trails, camping, and horseback riding spots to keep you busy for a year’s worth of long weekends. At least while it’s still around.

The Giant Sequoia National Monument
WHERE: California

Treeeeees

(Photo/Imdan/Dreamstime.com)


Giant Sequoias can grow as tall as skyscrapers and as wide around as your first apartment. And at the Giant Sequoia National Monument in California, you can strain your neck looking up at the majesty of 328,000 acres of them.

To see the best of what the park has to offer, follow the well-marked trails. They’ll take you past one of the oldest living organisms on earth (the 2,000-year-old Boole Tree), the Trail of A Hundred Giants, and the Converse Basin: a razed area of Sequoia stumps cut down before these endangered trees were federally protected.

The Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
WHERE: Arizona

Rocks on rocks on rocks

(Photo/Tiva48/Dreamstime.com)


If you rank every destination by #travelgram potential, then the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument should be on the top of your list. The trippy, colorful lines of their most famous rock formations–The Wave and Coyote Buttes– are some of the most photographable in the world.

But, you have to be committed to getting those likes for the ‘gram. Because the sites are so popular, the park allows only 20 visitors per day (and spots fill up fast) to help protect these popular photo ops from excessive foot traffic.

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