Saturday, April 23, 2011

Awe-Inspiring American Monuments

We wouldn’t dare rank our nation’s natural assets—who could choose between Yosemite and Yellowstone? But the man-made attractions? You bet. Behold, our picks for the country’s most epic buildings, monuments, and engineering feats, with advice for navigating them smarter, better, and with fewer crowds. Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco, CA Once the world's longest suspension bridge, the 1.7-mile Golden Gate has since been surpassed in size-but not in beauty. Hundreds of people walk the span from San Francisco to Sausalito each day, so you'll want to plan wisely. Bypass the two-hour meters at the overcrowded main lot off S.F.'s Merchant Road in favor of ample free parking at Crissy Field Center ( There, fair-trade coffee awaits at the Warming Hut CafĂ© & Bookstore, a whitewashed shed near the shore that's the perfect place to fuel up for the gentle, half-mile Bay Trail to the bridge. The Golden Gate's best-kept secret: Although it's closed to pedestrians after sunset, gates are opened for star-gazing cyclists. The Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge The now completed Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge (aka the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge) stands 890 feet above the Colorado River. The shot was taken from the Hoover Dam the day after the "Bridging America" event. Photo: sankefisch/Wikimedia Commons Hoover Dam Boulder City, NV It's never been easier to visit this 75-year-old colossus, which provides 20 million residents of California, Nevada, and Arizona with water and 1.3 million with hydroelectricity. Some new engineering is now helping the flow of the near-million annual visitors: a four-lane, 1,900-foot-long Hoover Dam bypass bridge. This bridge is the second-highest in the nation, perched at almost 900 feet above the rushing Colorado River. Avoid the intense summer heat (as high as 110 degrees) by planning your visit during January or February, when temperatures

hover in the low 60s. But be sure to arrive by 3 p.m. to tour the dam itself; visitors aren't allowed to the top of the facility after dark, which comes as early as 4:30 p.m. during that time of year.

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