Summer 2016: By Tamara Stewart.
This year is the National Park Service’s centennial, and in honor of that momentous occasion we’ve selected 5 amazing National Park Gems that feature the vestiges of fascinating and often little known ancient cultures. These five remarkable places are well worth seeing. Happy Travels!
- Ocmulgee National Monument in Georgia was recently voted the best archaeological site in America by the readers of USA Today. It features earthen mounds built by the Mississippian culture beginning around A.D. 900. If You Go: Ocmulgee National Monument, 1207 Emery Highway, Macon, Ga., (478) 752-8257. The monument is open 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. daily except for Christmas and New Year’s. Admission is free. For more information go to www.nps.gov/ocmu/index.htm . Nearby Attractions: The Town of Macon is home to 6,000 historic structures in 14 historic districts, with popular attractions including the Civil War-era Hay House and the Cannonball House, as well as the Grand Opera House and many other spectacular old buildings. The Museum of Arts and Sciences and Amerson River Park are also popular destinations in Macon.
- Near Pipestone, Minnesota, Pipestone National Monument preserves ancient ceremonial rock quarries of great importance to Plains tribes. If You Go: Pipestone National Monument, 36 Reservation Ave., Pipestone, Minnesota, 507-825-5464. The site is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. A day pass is $7 per person for ages 16 and up. For more information go to www.nps.gov/pipe/index.htm . Nearby Attractions: Part of the monument has been restored to native prairie grassland, and a small bison herd lives 25 miles south at Blue Mounds State Park. Split Rock Creek State Park, seven miles south, offers swimming, fishing, boating, and camping. Eighty-three miles east, Jeffers Petroglyph Historic Site preserves islands of petroglyph-covered boulders standing out in tall prairie grass, some dating back roughly 7,000 years.
- Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Ohio is one of North America’s largest native ceremonial sites, containing 24 earthworks created by ancient Hopewell peoples. If You Go: Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, 16062 State Route 104, Chillicothe, Ohio, 740-774-1126. The Mound City Group visitor center (the park’s only visitor center) is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except for major holidays. There is no entrance fee to any of the five sites included in the park. For more information go to www.nps.gov/hocu/index.htm . Nearby Attractions: The Tecumseh Outdoor Historical Drama in Chillicothe gets rave reviews. Visit Adena Mansion and Gardens for more of Ohio’s history. Yoctangee Park, with its beautiful lake, is a popular family destination, as is Scioto Trail State Park and Great Seal State Park on the edge of the Appalachian Mountains.
- Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument in central New Mexico includes the remains of four rare, massive Spanish Colonial mission churches and the Pueblos they administered. If You Go: Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is centered in Mountainair, New Mexico, 505-847-2585. The sites are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., during the summer. Admission is free. For more information go to
www.nps.gov/sapu/index.htm . Nearby Attractions: In the Town of Mountainair, the Harvey House Museum and the Emporium, a fun, eclectic store, are recommended stops. Nearby, Manzano Mountains State Park, El Malpais National Monument, and Isleta Lakes are all scenic destinations. The Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge off I-25 south of Bernardo has excellent birding when the Bernardo Auto Loop is open.
- Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau in Hawaii preserves the highly sacred Refuge Site and Royal Grounds that formed one of the main religious and political centers of the traditional Kona district. If You Go: Puʻuhonuao Hōnaunau National Historical Park, Highway 160, Hōnaunau, Hawaii, 808-328-2326. The site is open daily from 7 a.m. until 15 minutes after sunset. The visitor’s center is open daily from 8:30 a.m.-4:30
p.m. No lodging is available in the park and camping is not permitted, but several bed and breakfasts are located within Hōnaunau and neighboring towns. Hotels can be found in Kailua-Kona. For more information go to www.nps.gov/puho/index.htm .
Nearby Attractions: Hōnaunau Bay, adjacent to the park, offers snorkeling. Twenty-five miles north in Kailua-Kona, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park features ancient Hawaiian settlements. Puʻukohola Heiau National Historic Site, where you can stand on a beach and watch sharks pass over a submerged temple, is about 50 miles north in Kawaihae.
Summary. Read More in our Summer 2016 Issue of American Archaeology, Vol. 20, No. 1.
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