Complete List of All 429 National Park Service Units & Sites!

America has a vast system of national parks that extends through every corner of the country. Over many decades, the National Park Service has welcomed a plethora of new additions to the park system. They vary from major parks to units and sites but there are only 63 major parks. From America’s first national park, Yellowstone, in 1872, down to America’s newest national park New River Gorge in 2020. 

Today, there are currently 429 units (sometimes called “sites”) within the National Park Service. Many people commonly refer to these units as “parks.” The 429 units that make up the National Park Service sprawl over 85 million acres in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. You can find at least one NPS unit in all 50 states, U.S. territories, and Washington, D.C.

Many of the NPS units that are often called “parks” are technically not true national parks. In reality, there are only 63 actual national parks that hold that title. A wide selection of other naming designations is given to these NPS units. More specifically, there are actually nineteen different naming designations!

This article will list all of the 429 park units and discuss what each naming designation is all about. 

National Battlefields (11)

National battlefields are one of the four types of NPS units associated with the military and wars fought on American soil. These sites exist to protect and preserve the locations of historical battles. These sites include battlefields involved in the Civil War, American-Indian War, and the French and Indian War. 

Civil War-era cannon rests on a quiet patch of grass at Antietam National Battlefield
A Civil War-era cannon rests on a quiet patch of grass at Antietam National Battlefield. NPS photo

National Battlefields Parks (4)

National battlefield parks also preserve and protect the sites of important wars fought on U.S. soil. They are slightly different, though, in the sense that they can make up one or more sites covering a large area that was home to multiple battles. 

It is also important to mention that several historically significant battlefields in the U.S. are identified as national historical parks, national historic sites, and national monuments.  

Chimborazo Medical Museum and visitor center at Richmond National Battlefield Park
The Chimborazo Medical Museum and visitor center at Richmond National Battlefield Park. The museum served as a Civil War-era hospital for Confederate soldiers. NPS photo

National Battlefields Sites (1) 

Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site in Mississippi is the only National Battlefield Site in the United States. This battlefield site does share some similar traits to battlefields and battlefield parks. However, it differs in that it has a different naming designation and is not as large as the others.

Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Monument
Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Monument. NPS photo

National Military Parks (9)

National military parks safeguard locations affiliated with significant events in American Wars. The majority of these parks are dedicated to the Civil War. However, one is correlated with the Revolutionary War, and the other with the Creek War of 1813-1814.

Gettysburg National Cemetery located at Gettysburg National Military Park
Photo of Gettysburg National Cemetery located at Gettysburg National Military Park. The cemetery was created as the final resting place for Union soldiers who perished at Gettysburg. NPS photo

National Historical Parks (63)

National historical parks are usually much more elaborate than national historic sites. They exist to protect locations linked with places, people, or events of historical significance.

The national historical park designation is extraordinarily varied and includes an extensive collection of parks and other facets. These include features such as Native Americans, artists, and U.S. Presidents down to war sites, locations of political importance, and maritime history, to name a few. 

Memorial Building at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, Kentucky
The Memorial Building at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, Kentucky. NPS photo

National Historic Sites (75)

Dozens of national historic sites envelop a wide range of historical places, events, and people. 

Many national historical sites manage areas that are connected with key historical individuals like presidents, civil rights leaders, authors, etc. 

Such sites include:

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site. This was the private residence of the nation's 32nd president, located in Hyde Park, New York
The Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site. This was the private residence of the nation’s 32nd president, located in Hyde Park, New York. NPS photo

International Historic Sites (1)

There is only one international historic site within the NPS’s units. Maine’s St. Croix Island International Historic Site connects American and Canadian history with one another. 

Entrance of St. Croix Island International Historic Site
Entrance of St. Croix Island International Historic Site. NPS photo

National Lakeshores (3)

National Lakeshores serve to protect and preserve various natural resources. These lakeshores also provide access to water-related outdoor activities like swimming, fishing, and boating. 

All of the U.S.’s national lakeshores are found on the Great Lakes. Offshore islands can also be included under the protection and designation of a national lakeshore. 

overlook of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
Beautiful overlook of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan. NPS/Terry Phipps

National Seashores (10)

National seashores, like lakeshores, exist to protect and preserve a span of coastline and any associated islands and islets. National seashores are found on all of America’s coastlines.

Sunset at Canaveral National Seashore, Florida
Sunset at Canaveral National Seashore, Florida. NPS photo

National Rivers (4)

National Rivers protect both free-flowing rivers plus their associated shoreline environment. Per guidelines from the NPS, a river must contain a minimum of one outstanding natural, recreational, or cultural point(s) of significance to qualify as a national river.

National rivers, scenic riverways, and wild and scenic riverways also provide visitors with access to boating, hiking, hunting, and swimming activities. 

A beautiful summer day along the Buffalo National River in Arkansas.

National Wild and Scenic Rivers (10)

Spectacular ariel shot of the Alagnak Wild River, Alaska
Spectacular aerial shot of the Alagnak Wild River, Alaska. NPS photo

National Scenic Trails (6)

For the most part, national scenic trails are vast stretches of hiking trails that cross through areas known for magnificent scenery. 

It’s also important to note that several historic trails cross through the original routes of significant trips, like the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, and the Trail of Tears. While these trails are of great national and historical importance, they are not officially part of the NPS. Instead, they are referred to as “related areas.” 

beautiful meadow covered with white flowers on a portion of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail
A beautiful meadow covered with white flowers on a portion of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. NPS photo

National Memorials (31)

National memorials are usually reserved for areas that remember or commemorate a person or group of people. National memorials don’t have to be historically linked to the individual(s) they are celebrating. They are often built after the person(s) has passed away. An example of this is the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

A few names included in the list below don’t have the complete “national memorial” title in their name but are still classified under the category. 

Pearl Harbor National Memorial was built overtop of the battleship USS Arizona which was sunk during the deadly attacks of December 7, 1941
The Pearl Harbor National Memorial was built overtop of the battleship USS Arizona which was sunk during the deadly attacks of December 7, 1941. NPS photo

National Parkways (4)

National parkways serve the function of preserving land area that encompasses scenic roads. These roads are designed for slow-paced, leisurely drives through areas of scenic interest. 

Some national parks may include a national parkway in their boundaries. For example, the Foothills Parkway is located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Additionally, the Colonial Parkway is found within Colonial National Historical Park.

Autumn leaves and fog surround the Double Arch Bridge on the Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi
Autumn leaves and fog surround the Double Arch Bridge on the Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi. NPS photo

National Monuments (84)

National monuments are the largest of the NPS’s naming designations. They serve to house resources of national importance. Such resources could be areas significant on a historical, cultural, architectural, or natural level. 

Usually, national monuments are much smaller and less varied than a typical national park. However, that doesn’t mean they are any less incredible or important. Some notable examples of national monuments include several popular sites like the Statue of Liberty, Muir Woods, and Devils Tower in Wyoming. 

Visitor captures a shot of Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming
Visitor captures a shot of Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming. NPS photo

National Recreation Areas (18)

National recreation areas are located around large reservoirs, allowing visitors access to multiple water-based outdoor activities. Among these include swimming, kayaking, boating, and fishing. 

National recreation areas often hold some essential cultural or natural features. A number of these recreation areas are close to populated urban areas. They provide many Americans with easy access to get out and enjoy nature.

view of Boulder Basin and Fortification Hill at Lake Mead National Recreation Area
The view of Boulder Basin and Fortification Hill at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. NPS/Andrew Cattoir

National Preserves (19)

National preserves are similar to national parks in the sense that they both protect land and resources. However, national preserves are different as there are fewer limitations on activities such as fishing, hunting, or oil and gas extraction. Such activities are permitted as long as they do not threaten the preserve’s natural resources. 

sun begins to set at Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida
The sun begins to set at Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida. NPS photo

National Reserves (2)

National reserves are also similar to national preserves and safeguard the land and its accompanying flora and fauna. Several agencies manage these reserves, including state and local parks, federal agencies, and private property owners. 

Hikers climb Bluff Loop Trail in Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve. Hiking this trail gives visitors stunning vistas of the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, Mount Rainier, and the San Juan Islands
Hikers climb Bluff Loop Trail in Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. Hiking this trail gives visitors stunning vistas of the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, Mount Rainier, and the San Juan Islands. NPS photo

National Parks (63)

The 63 true official National Parks are the pride of the NPS’s 429 units. These well-known and popular parks are usually comprised of various cultural and natural resources. They protect large sections of land and water. 

The nation’s 63 National Parks are places of unparalleled beauty and wonder. Together, they make up a diverse collection of unique landscapes. Popular national parks include Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Glacier, Acadia, Grand Teton, and Zion, to name a few. 

famous "Joshua Tree" sits in front of the horizon at Joshua Tree National Park, California
A famous “Joshua Tree” sits in front of the horizon at Joshua Tree National Park, California. NPS photo

Other Park Designations (11)

There are 11 other numerous naming designations in the NPS as well. They are all found in Washington, D.C., and its surrounding areas, including parts of Virginia and Maryland. They vary from parks to gardens to urban centers and even a fort. 

Fort Washington Park in Maryland dates back all the way to the War of 1812. It was originally built to defend the river approach to Washington, DC
Fort Washington Park in Maryland dates back all the way to the War of 1812. It was originally built to defend the river approach to Washington, DC. NPS photo

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, there is an overwhelming number of park units within the NPS. You could easily spend years trying to visit each one of them. The variety of parks out there is also equally as immense. Have you visited any of the 429 NPS park units in the United States? 

Want a FREE complete list and recap of all our US National Parks as well as downloadable maps and other great resources? Check out our US National Parks List and Map guide!

national parks map and list - printable checklis
Free Downloadable NP List & Maps

About Me

My husband and I have three precious daughters and live in the Kansas City, KS area. One of our favorite things to do is travel across the country visiting our extraordinary US National Parks!

Let us know what you think about our content and if you have any questions, suggestions, or have any favorite memories or tips you would like to share. We would love to hear from you!

Happy Travels! Sandy

Leave a Comment

Top