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What are our nation’s natural wonders? — Curt Yeomans

Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.

Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.

Is it the man-made sites that make a location memorable, or is it the naturally-created ones that shape our lasting impressions of a place?

Well, the answer — to a degree — is both. The natural wonders of our world take our breaths away, because we don’t always have an easy time wrapping our minds around the fact that nature, without man’s involvement, can create such perfect vistas. That forms an impression on us. The man-made sites compliment that because they provide many of the memories that are created around that lasting impression.

I mean who can think of the Gatlinburg area of the Great Smokey Mountains, without thinking about Dollywood? I know, I know, Dollywood is technically in Pigeon Forge, but that’s like five minutes from Gatlinburg, so its counts as the “Gatlinburg area.”

I was recently flipping through a few lists of the top natural wonders in the U.S. Many of these places are locales that we have all heard of, such as Niagara Falls, and the Grand Canyon.

That got me thinking about these places, and you know how thinking can be a dangerous thing. I went from just thinking about these places, to thinking what natural wonders may be the best in the nation. There is no way to create a perfect list that ranks such places, because there are so many sites, and each person has his or her favorites.

Well, I eventually got to thinking about how several of these sites have their own folklore that has become ingrained in the American consciousness.

Who hasn’t heard the story about the person going over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel, or people being able to set their watches based on the regularity of water shooting out of Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful geyser. And how many people have tried to see how far their echo will travel in the Grand Canyon?

Many of our nation’s famous natural wonders have a legend that has grown up around them.

But, I’m going to backtrack at this point. I said there was no way to rank such places, but I didn’t say there was no way to create a list of must-see natural wonders in our country. I won’t make this list by myself. Ideally, I’d get some input from you guys who read this column. You may know of some places that I never would have thought of on my own.

I’ll get us started, though.

The list has to include the biggies, such as the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Utah’s Monument Valley, Death Valley, Oregon’s Crater Lake, the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in California and Nevada (from an airplane, they look like giant waves frozen in motion), Mount Rushmore, and the Great Smokey Mountains.

I might also add some lesser-known sites, such as the image of the Oglala Lakota Tribal Chief, Crazy Horse, that is carved into a mountain in South Dakota. I would also suggest the bayous of southeast Louisiana (if you have not had a chance to venture out of New Orleans, south into bayou country, then you are missing something.)

I’m going to wait two weeks to see how many responses I get, and I’ll then write a column about your suggestions. So, go on then. Start submitting your ideas.

Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.