Meet America’s Newest National Monuments

There’s no better time to visit these newly protected and soon-to-be protected landscapes.

Every few years, the federal government adds a new park to the U.S. National Parks system. When that happens, the area gains new levels of protection and attention—and usually a tsunami wave of new visitors. The best way to see these places without the crowds? Sneak in a visit before they gain official national parks status. 

The last few areas to be designated national parks—White Sands in New Mexico, the New River Gorge in West Virginia, and Indiana Dunes in Indiana—all started as either national monuments or national scenic rivers or lakeshores. That gave them a head-start on national parks designation since they were already managed by the National Parks Service. With the areas noted below, national parks designation would require a separate act of Congress, which could take several years to complete. Still, these three areas are newly protected or soon-to-be protected, which gives them a lot of momentum in terms of both public and Congressional support. 

So, keep an eye on these three stunning spots that are worth attention regardless of label—and be sure to give them each a visit before the crowds catch on. 

Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument 

Welcome to America’s newest national monument. Established by President Biden in 2022, this nearly 54,000-acre swathe of high-alpine forest and grassland is located in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. It was originally a critical fishing and hunting ground for the Ute People and remains important to that tribe today. In the 1800s it became a mining hotspot, then, in 1942, the training camp of the Army’s famed 10th Mountain Division. The specially skilled infantry division went on to play a pivotal role in fighting Germany during WWII, and helped create Colorado’s rich mountain recreation culture. Today, Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument offers world-class hiking and backcountry skiing, as well as valuable habitat for native cutthroat trout, mountain goats, lynx, and a variety of other wildlife. 

Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument is currently managed by the U.S. Forest Service. You can learn more about its history and recreation opportunities at

Avi Kwa Ame 

Home to striking desert, rugged canyons, and the world’s largest Joshua tree, Avi Kwa Ame could gain national monument designation within the next few months. The area gets its name from an eponymous peak in southern Nevada, which translates roughly to “Spirit Mountain.” The whole landscape is sacred to a number of local tribes, including the Mojave, Havasupai, and Hualapai. To honor that cultural heritage, Congress is currently considering legislation to protect Avi Kwa Ame for future generations. However, advocates have also called on President Biden to use the Antiquities Act, which would fast-track Avi Kwa Ame’s national-monument designation.

The land surrounding Avi Kwa Ame is currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Learn more and plan your visit at

Owyhee Canyonlands 

Known as Oregon’s Grand Canyon, Owyhee is a wild system of gorges and clear, trout-rich rivers that runs across southeastern Oregon and into Idaho. It’s one of the biggest uninterrupted chunks of unprotected public land in the U.S., which means it offers critical habitat for hundreds of plant and animal species. Golden eagles soar overhead, and pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep bound between rocks. But wildlife watching isn’t the only recreation opportunity here. Rafters, mountain bikers, hikers, anglers, and hunters all make use of Owyhee’s rich landscapes. 

In 2009, the Idaho side of the Owyhee Canyonlands received wilderness protection, but the Oregon side remains vulnerable to development. Now that’s poised to change. The U.S. Senate is currently reviewing a wilderness bill which would protect more than 1 million acres of land and 14 miles of river. Learn more about how you can help at, and plan your visit at  

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.