By Stephanie Meredith
July 13, 2020
July is Park and Recreation Month, which recognizes the important role parks and outdoor recreation play in our communities. The U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful Quarters® Program honors our country’s national parks, forests, and historic sites. Quarters for each state, territory, and the District of Columbia feature a design that shows the beauty of the site, the wildlife, or symbols that represent the site.
Recognizable landmarks appear on some quarters, such as El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, Marble Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park, and Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. Other designs include Old Faithful, Denali, Mount Hood, Devils Island sea caves, Chetro Ketl kivas, Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, and John Brown Fort, recognizing the variety of landmarks in the parks. Compare these landmarks to the scenes on the coins. If you can’t see the sights in person, visit virtually through virtual tours, videos, and photos.
Many quarter designs highlight the diverse wildlife and plants found in the parks. The 2020 Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve Quarter for the U.S. Virgin Islands shows mangrove trees that are an important part of the bay’s ecosystem.
The Kisatchie National Forest Quarter features a wild turkey and longleaf pines, protected by this national forest in Louisiana. Wildlife on other quarters include the great blue heron, loon, parrot, butterfly, bison, mountain goat, and elk. Bristlecone pine, white pine, and birch trees as well as grasses appear on other quarters. The designs bring awareness to the essential role they play in the habitats of the parks.
Quarters like the San Antonio Missions National Historic Site Quarter show symbols and scenes representing the site’s history. Wheat symbolizes farming; water recognizes the irrigation practices developed to sustain that farming; the arches and bell of the mission mean community; and the lion represents the missions’ Spanish cultural heritage.
The Homestead National Monument of America Quarter features examples of the three things Nebraska homesteaders needed to survive: food, water, and shelter. Other symbolic scenes on quarters are the British surrendering their sword at Saratoga, a frontiersman passing through Cumberland Gap, a Lowell mill girl working a power loom, a girl planting a spruce seedling, and a Tuskegee Airman pilot preparing to fly. Visit these historic sites to learn more about the stories these designs tell.
The America the Beautiful Quarters Program ends in 2021 with the release of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site Quarter. You can find your state’s quarter and visit the park to see its design inspiration in person. Check out the park’s website for hours and admission information, or visit the park virtually through virtual tours, webcams, and videos.
Below is a selection of virtual resources for the national parks and sites featured on America the Beautiful quarters:
- Yellowstone National Park virtual tours
- Arches National Park 360-degree photos
- Grand Canyon National Park virtual tours and videos
- Acadia National Park virtual tour
- Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park videos
- Glacier National Park videos
- Everglades National Park videos
- Ellis Island virtual tour
- Hidden Worlds of the National Parks in Google Arts and Culture
See more Inside the Mint articles.