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The Best Cemeteries for Tourists in the West

Columbia at Honolulu's national memorial, image
Photo caption
Lady Columbia greets visitors at Honolulu's National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

As any taphophile (lover of tombstones) will tell you, cemeteries aren't just final resting places—they're wonderlands of history, architecture, art, and natural beauty.

Boothill Graveyard Tombstone, Ariz.
Tombstone is "the Town Too Tough to Die," but at least 300 residents met their Maker here between 1878 and 1884. (520) 457-9344.

Cypress Lawn Memorial Park Colma, Calif.
When overcrowded San Francisco "evicted" cemetery residents in 1914, more than 35,000 bodies traveled south to Cypress Lawn, making Colma the only incorporated town in which the dead outnumber the living. Of Colma's 17 cemeteries, Cypress Lawn is the most popular. (650) 755-0580.

Forest Lawn Memorial Park Glendale, Calif.
Countless Hollywood luminaries rest here. Other draws are a stained glass re-creation of Leonardo's Last Supper and reproductions of Michelangelo's David and La Pietà. (800) 204-3131,

Hollywood Forever Cemetery Hollywood, Calif.
Offering LifeStory touch screens and a Web-wired chapel, this palm-shaded cemetery epitomizes La-La Land: simultaneously high-tech, historic, and brimming with hubris.
(323) 469-1181,

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific Honolulu, Hawaii
Considered the Arlington of the West, this Honolulu landmark is commonly known as "Punchbowl," after its stunning location inside the Puowaina volcano crater. (808) 532-3720.

Old Sacramento Historic City Cemetery Sacramento, Calif.
Founded the year the Gold Rush began, this cemetery contains the bones of numerous forty-niners as well as a rose garden and a chapel where visitors can trace their ancestry. (916) 448-0811.

Salt Lake City Cemetery Salt Lake City, Utah
Elaborate headstones and a sweeping view distinguish Utah's largest cemetery. Plots in which several wives' graves surround a husband's headstone give testimony to pioneer-era polygamy. (801) 596-5020.

Roslyn cemeteries Roslyn, Wash.
This sleepy village hosts 26 graveyards—Lithuanian, Serbian, Polish, Croatian, and even Druidic—with wrought-iron European markers, cryptic lodge insignia, and epitaphs in foreign languages. (509) 649-3105.

Photography by Robert Holmes/Corbis

This article was first published in November 2003. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.