Geologic Heritage National Natural Landmarks

The National Natural Landmarks Program recognizes and encourages the conservation of outstanding examples of our country's natural history. It is the only natural areas program on national scope that identifies and recognizes the best examples of biological and geological features in both public and private ownership. National Natural Landmarks (NNLs) are designated by the Secretary of the Interior, with the landowner's concurrence. To date, nearly 600 sites have been designated. The National Park Service administers the NNL Program and supports NNL owners and managers with the conservation of these important sites.

Many sites important in the history of the earth sciences and geology have been identified by the National Natural Landmarks Program. More than 100 landmarks have been recognized for geologic significance, most are outside of NPS lands. Below are a few of the outstanding geology sites that have been chosen as the "best of their kind":

  • Iliamna Volcano, AK - Mountain Systems
  • Malaspina Glacier, AK - Works Of Glaciers
  • Red Mtn. Expressway Cut, AL - Seismic Phenomena
  • Barringer Meteor Crater, AZ - Sculpture Of The Land
  • Loess Hills, IA - Eolian Landforms
  • Cassia Silent City of Rocks, ID - Sculpture Of The Land
  • Nebraska Sand Hills, NE - Eolian Landforms
  • Mount Monadnock, NH - Sculpture Of The Land
  • Grants Lava Flow, NM - Works Of Volcanism
  • Ship Rock, NM - Sculpture Of The Land
  • Valles Caldera, NM - Works Of Volcanism
  • Ellenville Fault -Ice Cave, NY - Caves

Selection Process

In order to ensure that the best properties are selected and the landowner and the public are consulted, the following steps constitute the selection process:

National Natural Landmark Program Publication

A natural area inventory of a natural region is completed to identify the most promising sites.

After landowners are notified that the site is being considered for NNL status, a detailed onsite evaluation is conducted by scientists other than those who conducted the inventory.

The evaluation report is peer reviewed by other experts.

The report is reviewed by National Park Service staff.

The site is reviewed by the Secretary of the Interior's National Park Advisory Board to determine that the site qualifies as an NNL.

The findings are provided to the Secretary who approves or declines.

Landowners are notified that the site has been designated an NNL.

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