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How to choose your next National Heritage Area to visit!

Updated on September 17, 2014

How to choose your next National Heritage Area to visit

National Heritage Areas are the lastest versions of "National Parks" - but, they are created by the people who live in the area under the guidance of the National Park Service. Each is a collection of local sites, attractions and locations in relatively close proximity that shares a meaningful heritage story. This article is intended to be an introduction the the National Heritage Area (NHA) concept and a sampling of them. Subsequent article will be built around individual NHAs across the USA.

Photo is from along Hwy 24 in Mormon Pioneer NHA, Utah.

Capitol Reef National Park: The Complete Hiking and Touring Guide
Capitol Reef National Park: The Complete Hiking and Touring Guide

The only complete guide to Capitol Reef National Park whether on foot or from the road.

Finally, the total experience of enjoying Capitol Reef National Park has been captured in one comprehensive volume.


National Heritage Area information from the National Park Service - Thinking of creating a local NHA? This is the place to start!

Note the three tabs on this site:

1) What is an NHA?

2) Becoming an NHA

3) NHA Resources

This is where you learn all the details of how and why National Heritage Areas exist and why they will continue to grow.

See videos, links and other useful NHA information.

Click, take a peek, but come back here to read more, please and thanks!  ;-)
Click, take a peek, but come back here to read more, please and thanks! ;-)

A quick reference guide for National Heritage Areas

Leave a comment, after you take a peak the the NHA map!

This image and link are adapted from part of the Alliance of National Heritage Area website and I thank them for their work. I offer it here as an easy way to visualize the sites - and quickly get to a favorite one, but, I hope you will come back here and continue to read. THANKS! ;-)

An introduction to the Alliance of National Heritage Areas - A fine group working for the mutual benefit of all the NHAs

From the Mission Statement of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas:

To create and enhance strategic links among the Congressionally designated National Heritage Areas, emerging heritage areas, and private, non-profit and governmental organizations associated with heritage development.

My favorite NHA sites (just to get things started) - This list may change from time to time

These are the National Heritage Areas I have worked with, visited, or live nearest. They are newer than those in the eastern third of the USA.

Which would you visit first?

Lincoln Museum Exterior
Lincoln Museum Exterior

Which of these National Heritage Areas would you like to visit next?

See results

Mormon Pioneer Area Books available on Amazon - These are some of my favorites. Check them out carefully.

Bargaining for Eden
Bargaining for Eden

Beginning with an Olympic ski race in northern Utah, this heartfelt book from award-winning writer and photographer Stephen Trimble takes a penetrating look at the battles raging over the land--and the soul--of the American West. Bargaining for Eden investigates the high-profile story of a reclusive billionaire who worked relentlessly to acquire public land for his ski resort and to host the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. In a gripping, character-driven narrative, based on extensive interviews, Trimble tells of the land exchange deal that ensued, one of the largest and most controversial in U.S. history, as he deftly explores the inner conflicts, paradoxes, and greed at the heart of land-use disputes from the back rooms of Washington to the grassroots efforts of passionate citizens. Into this mix, Trimble weaves the personal story of how he, a lifelong environmentalist, ironically became a landowner and developer himself, and began to explore the ethics of ownership anew. We travel with Trimble in a fascinating journey that becomes, in the end, a hopeful credo to guide citizens and communities seeking to reinvent their relationship with the beloved American landscape.


Five new Western National Heritage Areas - Have you visited any of these, recently? Share in Comments

These are some of the most recently added of the 49 NHAs across the country; these are in CO, NM, and AZ.

The National Heritage Area concept seems to new/foreign to a lot of good folks. With this lens I hope to in some small way change that. Your viewpoints will be appreciated. Some, very few, active oppose the National Heritage Area concept. If you are one of those, feel free to say so, but please, be nice. Mutual respect is in the common good.

Highway 12
Highway 12

Highway 12 is undoubtedly one of not only America's but the world's most scenic highways. From its intersection on the west with Highway 89 south of Panguitch, Utah, it runs up through Red Canyon onto the Paunsagunt Plateau and across Bryce Canyon National Park. It then drops into the Paria River Valley, passes through several tiny villages, crosses some extraordinary (for anywhere but this region) badlands, and descends the Escalante River into Potato Valley. While a driver may justifiably feel she has seen some scenery by that point, the highway is just getting started, for in the next stretch, it crosses a labyrinth of multicolored sandstone humps and corridors, climaxed by a narrow hogback with steep slickrock drops to each side, all within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Reaching the oasis of Boulder within this desert of rock, the road then climbs across the flank of the Aquarius Plateau, providing spectacular vistas and terminating at the gateway to Capitol Reef National Park. Along the way side roads and trails access the vast wilderness of the Paria and Escalante Rivers and the high plateaus they drain. Congress acknowledged the unequaled splendor of Highway 12 by designating it one of a handful of All-American Roads.

To travel with Christian Probasco this road and its spurs, which lead deep into some of the wildest, most broken-up and stunning landscapes anywhere, can put a unique twist on an already singular experience. He knows the region as well as anyone and brings an original, edgy, youthful view to it. His opinions and his language may challenge you. His approaches to and perspectives on the land may sometimes surprise you. His understanding of the area's history and its people will likely teach you a thing or two.


Feedback and Comments on this NHA lens - I look forward to hearing what you thought as you read/skimmed this lens

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    • DrBillSmithWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      @Hairdresser007: Thank you! Hope you will be able to visit! ;-)

    • Hairdresser007 profile image

      James Jordan 

      4 years ago from Burbank, CA

      Very well done lens! I love road trips and stopping and learning about where I have been!

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      @takkhisa: They all hope you can, as well. Lot's of local sites, well worth the visit! ;-)

    • takkhisa profile image


      4 years ago

      Great lens with a lot of useful information! Well, I wish if I could visit Freedoms Frontier. Thank you.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      6 years ago from Hollister, MO

      @NC Shepherd: Hope you can visit each of them, one day! ;-)

    • profile image

      NC Shepherd 

      6 years ago

      These sound fascinating! So many places to go.....

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      6 years ago from Hollister, MO

      @Hypersapien2: Thank you! ;-)

    • Hypersapien2 profile image


      6 years ago from U.S.

      Nice lens, with great ideas for places to visit.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      6 years ago from Hollister, MO

      @Deadicated LM: Thank you, so much. I love to write about Heritage Tourism in general and the National Heritage Areas in particular. Glad you enjoy, as well! ;-)

    • profile image

      Deadicated LM 

      6 years ago

      I love history (although those that know it are doomed to repeat it, lol); my father was a history buff and he use to drag us to all the historical forts and such in NYS, now he's gone, and I don't need to be dragged, I go willingly. I really enjoyed your Lens and shared it in my "History" section on Pinterest.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      6 years ago from Hollister, MO

      @uneasywriter lm: Thanks for stopping by. I hope you are able to do that tour! ;-)

    • uneasywriter lm profile image

      uneasywriter lm 

      6 years ago

      I intend to do a tour of National Heritage Area's in the near future. I have always wanted to vacation in the southwest and I think that National Heritage Area tour there is the way to plan that! Thanks for a great lens!


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