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This U.S. State Now Has a New UNESCO World Heritage Site — How to Visit

In September, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee convened to unveil the latest destinations to make its World Heritage List. And there’s a brand-new addition right here in the U.S.

UNESCO officially named Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, a prehistoric structure found in the middle of Ohio, to its list. It marks the first inclusion from the states since the U.S. rejoined UNESCO in 2023. 

“This property is a series of eight monumental earthen enclosure complexes built between 2,000 and 1,600 years ago along the central tributaries of the Ohio River,” UNESCO wrote in the description added to the list. “They are the most representative surviving expressions of the Indigenous tradition now referred to as the Hopewell culture.” 

The scale of the eight monuments, UNESCO said, cannot be overstated. “the Great Pyramid of Cheops would have fit inside the Wright Earthworks,” the organization added. NPR additionally explained that the mounds range in height from three to more than 30 feet and are “miles long.” UNESCO noted that the structures were likely used as “ceremonial centers,” evidenced by the “finely crafted ritual objects” made of raw materials gathered from “distant places” found at each. 

According to Cincinnati.com, the effort to include the earthworks in UNESCO’s list was helmed by ​​preservation groups like the Ohio History Connection, as well as the National Congress of American Indians, and the Inter Tribal Council, which represents nations in Northeast Oklahoma and the Seneca Nation of New York State.

“Inscription on the World Heritage List will call international attention to these treasures long known to Ohioans,” Megan Wood, the executive director and CEO of the Ohio History Connection, said in a statement obtained by Travel + Leisure.

Want to visit America’s newest UNESCO site? Here’s how to plan a visit. 

Great Circle Earthworks, Gateway & Eagle Mound at Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks in Ohio

Where are the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks? 

There are eight sites total that are part of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks. That includes the Fort Ancient Earthworks and Nature Preserve, Mound City Group, Hopewell Mound Group, Seip Earthworks, High Bank Earthworks, Hopeton Earthworks, Newark Earthworks, and Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (five geographically separate elements). The easiest way may be to visit the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, located in Chillicothe, Ohio. (It’s a town nestled about an hour’s drive from Columbus, which has a high concentration of the mounds.) See a map of the mounds in the park to plot your visit here

When to Go 

The park, the National Park Service (NPS) noted, is visited by just 58,000 people a year, with its high season between March and October. To have the park to yourself, try visiting in its shoulder seasons, just after the new year, or in the late fall. Though be warned, it can be chilly during this time (between 40-50 degrees), so make sure to pack a coat. The park is open every day from sunrise to sunset. 

Is there a visitor’s center? 

There is only one visitor’s center for the mounds, found at Mound City Group, at 16062 State Route 104, Chillicothe, OH 45601. It is open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except for major holidays. 

Is the park accessible to all?

The park provides interpretive trails, which are more readily accessible for those who may have a disability, however, the park warns, “Use caution as trails may be slightly uneven due to surfaces of grass, gravel, and wood chips.” A first-come, first-serve, off-road wheelchair is accessible at the visitor’s center.

How much does it cost? 

The park is always free.

Can I camp?

There is no camping available at the park, but you can find nearby sites by visiting recreation.gov. There are also a number of hotels nearby

Source : Travelandleisure



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