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7 national monuments to visit with your pets

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The country's national parks get a lot of attention, and for good reason. With such majestic areas as Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, the National Parks put the diversity and beauty of America’s natural heritage on full display.

Though perhaps lesser known, national monuments are a type of public land that is protected and available for all to enjoy. The main difference between a national park and a national monument is in how they are created and administered. We won’t go into the details here, but the land of many national monuments, such as the Statue of Liberty National Monument, contains significant historical artifacts, whereas large national parks such as Katmai in Alaska were established primarily for their natural splendor.

With 129 national monuments, there’s no shortage of adventures you and your pet can have visiting and exploring these national treasures. Of course, some are more suitable for pets than others.

With great hiking, flowing water, shade and stunning sights, these are the seven best national monuments to visit with your dog.

Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming

The first parcel of land to be set aside and designated as a national monument by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906, Devils Tower remains one of the most iconic land features in the American West. Rising from the surrounding prairies, this stunning geological formation is surrounded by forests, trails and campgrounds that make for a perfect adventure with your dog. Because the tower and surrounding area are sacred to many people, it’s important to follow all dog-related rules and to keep them on a leash at all times.

Berryessa Snow Mountain, California

A relative newcomer to the roster of national monuments, Berryessa Snow Mountain is an ecological hot spot about 100 miles north of the San Francisco Bay. There are ample recreational opportunities in this 330,780-acre monument. Adventurous dogs and their owners have plenty of wilderness to explore. While there are plenty of fresh streams to drink from and stunning vistas to enjoy, keep an eye on your favorite four-legged friend — there is also a thriving population of black bears, cougars, elk, bald eagles and more.

Fort Stanwix, New York

History buffs love national monuments because of the rich military and colonial heritage preserved in the system. Of the many forts on the east coast, we chose Fort Stanwix because it is both rich in history and has ample room to get out and move around with your dog. Located in the heart of New York State, the many state forests and parks surrounding Fort Stanwix provide plenty of additional opportunities for fun.

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Grand Portage, Minnesota

On the shores of Lake Superior, the greatest of the Great Lakes, Grand Portage National Monument is a treasure for anyone interested in the early exploration of the continent. A former trading post, the many reconstructed buildings of Grand Portage include a trading fort, a canoe shop where you can see actual birch bark canoes, and more. Along with all the history is the natural beauty, waterfalls, hiking trails and, of course, the pebble beaches of Lake Superior that will make this a paradise for you and your pooch.

Katahdin Woods and Waters, Maine

Situated in the storied north woods of Maine, Katahdin Woods and Waters is a reminder of what the frontier once looked like. With views of the famous Mount Katahdin, outdoor lovers with energetic pups will find a new adventure here every season. We recommend visiting in the fall, when the air is cool, the leaves are spectacular and there’s a certain magic in the air.

Scotts Bluff, Nebraska

While most national monuments are in the rugged, mountainous regions out west, there are treasures to be found in the middle of the country as well. Rising more than 800 feet above the plains, Scotts Bluff was an important landmark for Native Americans and for settlers headed out on the Oregon Trail. Today, its five main bluffs, 3,000 acres and numerous trails make it a fantastic site to visit with your dog.

White Sands, New Mexico

This monument invites you and your dog to explore miles of surreal white, gypsum sand dunes. With wave after wave of shimmering mounds of white sand, it’s like no place you’ve ever seen. The “sand” is powdery and feels a lot like snow, hence the popularity of snowless sledding that goes on here. It's a great place to picnic, hike and play an amazing game of catch with your favorite four-legged friend.

We live in a spectacular country, and getting out to explore some of these monuments with your best friend is a great way to see the best America has to offer.