Take An RV Road Trip To 3 New National Landmarks
Planning your RV road trip routes for the year already? You may want to consider squeezing at least one of these three notable locations into the itinerary. In January, Former Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt named three new sites as national natural landmarks.
These sites are located in West Virginia, Colorado, and California. Their addition brings the number of national natural landmarks in the United States, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to 602, a milestone for the National Park Service’s National Natural Landmarks Program.
“With more than 600 national natural landmarks, we recognize and celebrate the breadth and diversity of America’s natural beauty and our partners for their commitment to conserving America’s natural heritage,” said Former Secretary Bernhardt.
National Natural Landmarks are selected by the Secretary of the Interior, and consideration is based on the site’s condition, exemplary character, rarity, diversity, and value to science and education. The program seeks to spotlight the best examples of remaining biological and/or geological features and takes measures to conserve what is left.
RV road trip destination options
Bear Rocks and Allegheny Front Preserve, West Virginia
Bear Rocks and Allegheny Front Preserve, located in Grant and Tucker Counties, is owned by The Nature Conservancy. The most distinctive feature of the preserve is the rocky, high-altitude plateau. This mountain-turned-plateau landscape resulted from continental plates colliding millions of years ago and then slowly eroding over the years by ice, rain, wind, and water.
The 4,000-foot elevation and cool climate of the preserve supports a distinct and diverse species of plants and animals that would otherwise be found farther north in Canada. Lightly treaded trails traverse throughout the landscape, giving hikers a closer look at wind-swept and stunted spruce trees, low-lying heath shrubs, rock outcrops, and bogs. Visitors may spot snowshoe hares and saw-whet owls. It is also a sanctuary for the Cheat Mountain salamander, a species on the federal threatened and endangered list.
Camping is not allowed in the preserve. A few campgrounds like Canaan Valley Resort State Park and Riverside Cabins & RV Park nearby are just an hour’s drive away.
Sulphur Cave and Spring, Colorado
Sulphur Cave and Spring, located just west of downtown Steamboat Springs, Colorado, is owned by the City of Steamboat Springs. The cave is undergoing an extremely rare sulfuric acid speleogenesis (development). It is the only one of its kind in the state.
Amazingly, this highly toxic environment of hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide gases is home to a flourishing ecological community.
The cave contains many uncommon features, including
- bacterial mats,
- biovermiculations (wavy lines on cave walls and ceilings that host an active microbial flora),
- gypsum crystals,
- native sulfur,
- snotties (mucus-like soda straws that hang from the cave’s ceiling),
- and Limnodrilus Sulphurensis (a blood-red worm found nowhere else in the world)
Scientists are particularly interested in the worm. A closer look at these specimens has led them to believe that the worms can help understand what can survive in low oxygen environments, such as the planet Mars, and find ways to aid people with circulatory issues.
Since people cannot enter the cave due to its toxic air, folks can still learn more about the landmark at the Tread of Pioneers Museum in Steamboat Springs. They have an entire exhibit featuring the area’s plethora of springs, including the Sulphur Cave. An actual worm from the cave is part of the display.
There are a reported 150 springs in the area varying in temperature from 40 to 150 degrees. Visitors can explore the town and find many of the springs at their leisure. Plus, there is no shortage of RV campgrounds in and around Steamboat Springs, CO.
The video below, provided by the National Park Service, showcases the Bear Rocks and Allegheny Front Preserve and Sulphur Cave and Spring, number 600 and 601 landmarks.
Lanphere and Ma-le’l Dunes, California
Lanphere and Ma-le’l Dunes is located west of Arcata in northwestern California and owned by the Bureau of Land Management and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The ecosystem was deemed the 602nd National Natural Landmark because of its diverse vegetation and quality remnants of coastal dunes in the area.
Coastal dunes are among the rarest systems along the west coast due to commercial and residential development and invasive species like European beachgrass. The Lanphere and Ma-le’l Dunes are seemingly untouched, keeping much of the features that once thrived on the west coast. Besides dunes, the site includes beaches, dune forest islands, salt marshes, deflation plain swales, freshwater marshes, and brackish wetlands.
The Ma-le’l Dunes are open to the public from sunrise to sunset every day. Permits are required to visit the Lanphere Dunes. Guided walking tours are offered by Friends of the Dunes. Extending your stay in the location is no problem with the many campgrounds in and around Arcata.
Planning your RV road trip
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An annual subscription to RV LIFE Trip Wizard allows you to sync your planned routes to RV LIFE – RV Safe GPS app for additional guidance on the go.
RV LIFE Campgrounds is an excellent online source for learning more about a campground and also reading honest customer reviews from campers just like you. With some 20,000 campgrounds listed, you’ll be sure to find a nearby park that is just right for you!
See also: Visit National Parks For Free On These Days In 2021
Natalie Henley is a freelance writer and has also been full-time RVing with her husband and pets since 2015. She covers a wide range of topics from RV lifestyle, RVing tips, DIY projects, RV news, and more.