Welcome back to the next installment of Virtual Travel with UNESCO! It can be fun to explore new places — even without leaving the comfort of your own home. Previously, we talked about the UNESCO organization and their list of World Heritage sites. Part I focused on the sites closest to Mid-Missouri and a few more in the central and eastern United States. If you have not had the chance to read the first part of this series, UNESCO is a worldwide organization that promotes cultural diversity, safeguarding natural resources, and protecting culturally meaningful sites around the globe. UNESCO has over a thousand sites that are protected by the organization and considered valuable cultural and natural resources. Today, I will be highlighting UNESCO World Heritage sites in the west and southwestern United States. To see the entire list of natural and cultural World Heritage Sites check out World Heritage Sites: A Complete Guide to 1,031 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Let’s explore!
Mesa Verde is a fascinating cultural heritage site. It is located on the Mesa Verde plateau in the state of Colorado. The site was the home of ancestral Pueblo Indians and is composed of dwellings built into the cliff and villages perched on top of the mesa (flat-topped mountain or hill). These dwellings were built between the 6th and 12th centuries CE. Mesa Verde National Park is considered a World Heritage Site because it provides a vivid reminder of the history and ancient cultural traditions of the Puebloan Peoples of the American Southwest. If you are interested in learning more about Mesa Verde, check out “A Family Guide to the Grand Circle National Parks” by Eric Henze. This book discusses multiple parks including Grand Canyon National Park which is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you want to learn more about the Ancestral Pueblo culture check out “The Lost World of the Old Ones” by David Roberts.
Another World Heritage Site that relates to Robert’s book is Taos Pueblo. Located in the Taos Mountains in the southwestern United States, this multi-story settlement was established in the late 13th and early 14th centuries by the ancestral Pueblo people. It is considered a culturally significant site because of its well-preserved architecture including a walled village and seven underground ceremonial chambers called kivas. Ancient cultures in the American Southwest are renowned for their pottery. If you want to learn more about the ceramic traditions of this region, check out “A River Apart: the Pottery of Cochiti & Santo Domingo Pueblos” by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Laboratory of Anthropology in New Mexico.
The Redwood National Park is a fantastic example of some of the natural resources that are protected under UNESCO. It is considered a World Heritage site because it is part of a surviving group of trees that used to be found in wet, temperate regions all over the world. This park also encompasses a unique coastal environment that is home to many different marine and freshwater flora and fauna. If you are interested in learning more about Redwood National and State Parks, check out the documentary “Climbing Redwood Giants” by National Geographic. You could also check out, “The Wild Trees: a Story of Passion and Daring” by Richard Preston.
A lot of UNESCO World Heritage Sites also happen to be National Parks. Check out “Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park” by Conor Knighton. Other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in western, southwestern, and other parts of the United States include: La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico, Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, Chaco Culture and more. You can also explore additional UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the American west and southwest, by checking out the links and materials listed below!
“Yellowstone: a Journey through America’s Heart” by David Quammen
“Glaciers: the Politics of Ice” by Jorge Daniel Taillant
“Glaciers” by M. J. Hambrey
“Olympic National Park, Washington State” DVD by Bennett Watt Entertainment
“Best Easy Day Hikes, Olympics” by Erik Molvar
“Discovering Mission San Antonio de Padua” by Zachary Anderson (eBook)
“Hidden Hawaii” DVD by National Geographic
“Mysterious Life of Caves” DVD by NOVA
“Yosemite” DVD by PBS Nature
“Yosemite: the Promise of Wildness” by William Neill