About The National Park System
America’s National Park System
America’s National Park System includes 419 units consisting of the 61 national parks as designated by Congress, 88 national monuments, 78 national historic sites, 51 national historical parks, 31 national memorials, 19 national preserves, 18 national recreation areas, 15 national rivers and national wild and scenic rivers and riverways, 15 national battlefields and national battlefield parks, 10 national seashores, 9 national military parks, 4 national parkways, 3 national lakeshores, 3 national scenic trails, 2 national reserves, and 13 other unique designations. There is at least one unit located in each state and in five island territories in the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans. In addition to the three trails considered distinct units by the park service, there are 27 other national scenic trails and national historic trails, 54 national heritage areas, 43 rivers in the national wild and scenic rivers system and 25 affiliated sites spread across the country.
The park system is managed in seven different regions, though many park enthusiasts still think of the units as split among the nine regions identified by Eastern National in the Passport to Your National Parks program. The greatest number of units within or shared by any one state is 28 in California, followed by the District of Columbia with 25, Alaska with 24, and Arizona and Virginia, each with 22. Delaware became the 50th state to gain a unit in 2013 with First State National Monument, since redesignated First State National Historical Park in 2014.
Most who declare a goal to visit “all the parks” are referring to the 61 national parks as designated by Congress. More ambitious park fans make it a goal to see all 400+ units. The largest collection of individuals known to have claimed visits to all the units are found in a nonprofit club, the National Park Travelers Club (NPTC). The club started as an effort among passport program hobbyists to collect information about the location of the thousands of passport stamps spread throughout the country. The club grew to include members uninterested in the passport program but who shared the common thread among all club members: an aspiration to visit as many park system locations as possible. To date, 43 members have claimed visits to all the units. That group includes the author. Although the author benefited greatly from the experience and knowledge of other members and recommends the club to fellow park travelers, no content on this site or in the book should be considered an endorsement by the NPTC nor a statement on behalf of the NPTC. You can find the NPTC at www.parkstamps.org .
Find Your Way Through the National Park System
To learn more about the NPS, click the link below and start your own journey!