For avid travelers, it not unusual to spend thousands of dollars and fly halfway around the world to visit ancient ruins in countries such as Italy, Jordan or Cambodia. But, what if we told you there are ancient ruins right here in the United States? As Priceonomics recently pointed out, you'll find one example in Illinois, right across the river from St. Louis. In 1811, Henry Brackenridge, a lawyer-journalist, discovered what would later come to be known as the Grand Plaza of Cahokia—the remnants of a 13th-century city that "resembled an urban grid, human bones, and mounds of soil formed into dozens of grassy pyramids up to 100 feet tall." Unfortunately, Brackenridge's discovery was widely ignored by, well, everyone and, eventually, "four-lane roads and highways" were built around and through Cahokia, and, as St. Louis grew in size, it came to cover more than half of the ancient site. Today, though Cahokia is a designated State Historic Site, and, according to archaeologists, is "America's version of the pyramids," it receives only 250,000 visitors each year (compare that to the ruins in Tulum, Mexico's 1.1 million annually—or Egypt's Pyramids of Giza, which chalk up more than 4 million visitors each year).
Next time you're considering a road trip to ruin or ancient adventure, why not stay closer to home and explore our continent's rich history? Here are five ancient ruin sites well worth a visit right here in the United States.
- Celebrity Chefs Take Up Residence in Yosemite National Park
- America's National Parks: The Insider's Travel Guide
- Best Wine Store Next Door to a National Park
1. Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site: The most sophisticated pre-historical native civilization north of Mexico once inhabited this city estimated to have reached a population of 20,000—larger than London at the time—in the mid-13th century. Situated about 10 miles outside of St. Louis, the site is easily reachable by car, bus or taxi.