Last updated: 12:00 PM ET, Tue April 21 2015

Four Delisted National Parks Still Worth Checking Out

Features & Advice | Tom Bastek | April 21, 2015

Four Delisted National Parks Still Worth Checking Out

Photo courtesy of the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

Just because a site is designated a national park doesn’t mean that it stays a national park forever. It can, for various reasons, lose its designation and be deeded back to any number of agencies of companies. There are more than 25 different parks that were either delisted or were never officially signed into being, even though they were obtained by the National Parks Service.

Here are four that you can still check out in the hoes that  maybe one day, they might get back onto the list.

The Oklahoma City National Memorial

In 1997, the Oklahoma City National Memorial Act was passed and the Oklahoma City National Memorial was constructed to commemorate the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. And believe it or not, at that time the National Park Service was given charge of the site. 

In 2007, President George W. Bush signed it over to the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation with the understanding that the NPS would continue to promote it and support it as if it was one of their own. Today the site is the most visited and highly rated attraction in Oklahoma City, and this year they are honoring the 20th anniversary of the bombing. Admission is $15 and tours are self guided.

Lewis and Clark Cavern National Monument

"Lewis and clark caverns" by littlefishyjes via Wikimedia Commons

Established on May 11, 1908 as the Lewis and Clark Cavern National Monument, this park is located near Whitehall in Western Montana. As you probably guessed, it was named for the original explorers who traversed their way along the river in the valley below the entrance to the cave. 

In 1937, due to lack of sufficient funding to provide safety and staffing, the federal government transferred the property to the state of Montana where two years later, it became its first state park. Now named the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, it contains over 3,000 acres, 10 miles of hiking trails, and 40 campsites.  There is also a visitor center and guided tours are offered from May 1 to September 30 each year.

Atlanta Campaign National Historic Site

Photo courtesy of

In October of 1944, the Secretary of the Interior ordered the creation of five rest stops along the Dixie Highway in Northern Georgia. For those who don’t know, the Dixie Highway was more of a network of connected, paved roads than an actual straight-shot highway. It was constructed from 1915 to 1927 and stretched from as far north as Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan all the way south to Miami, Florida.

The Atlanta Campaign National Historic Site was five fully working rest areas with picnic pavilions and interpretive exhibits that traced the Union’s Atlanta Campaign through Ringgold Gap, Rocky Face ridge, Resaca, Cassville, and New Hope Church. 

After being transferred to the National Park Service during WWII, the NPS maintained the sites for six years and transferred the property to the State of Georgia in 1950.  Today the markers are still there and the history still remains on the minds of many. 

Taking a drive along the historic Dixie Highway will allow you to hark back to two generations: The Civil War and the beginnings of inter-state travel before interstate highways.

Wheeler Geological Area

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Rarely are there places in this country that were made less accessible with the coming of the automobile age, but that is the case with the Wheeler Geographical Area. During the 1800s, the then-Wheeler National Monument was the number two tourist attraction in the state of Colorado, right behind Pike’s Peak. The unfortunate part was that it was next to impossible to visit unless on foot and horseback. 

At the time before the auto, people didn’t mind a long and tedious trek to the site, even at the 12,000 foot level.  However, when the car made its appearance in everyday lives of the typical American and highly influenced where they would vacation, things began to change. Taking a slow walk, ride and climb up the mountain just didn’t have the same appeal as a place they could visit via their new vehicular apparatus.

The park was given to the NPS in 1933 after an agency reorganization of all parks in the federal government’s care. They in turn, just seventeen years later, signed it back over to the U.S. Forestry Service. It is still visited today, known now as the Wheeler Geologic Area, part of the Rio Grande National Forest.

There are plenty of other delisted National Parks out there.  Have you ever been to them?  Have you ever visited any of the ones above?  Let me know in the comments below.


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