The National Park Service is a bureau within the Department of the Interior. We preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. We also cooperate with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.
Today there are almost 400 units in the national park system. These units are variously designated as national parks, monuments, preserves, lakeshores, seashores, wild and scenic rivers, trails, historic sites, military parks, battlefields, historical parks, recreation areas, memorials, and parkways. Regardless of the many names and official designations of the park lands that make up the national park system, all represent some nationally significant aspect of our natural or cultural heritage. As the physical remnants of our past, and great scenic and natural places that continue to evolve, repositories of outstanding recreation opportunities, classrooms of our heritage, and the legacy we leave to future generations, they warrant the highest standard of protection.
Did You Know?
The U.S.S. Monitor sank off Cape Hatteras during a storm in December 1862. The wreck's location was a mystery until 1973 when a research vessel found the ship 16 miles off the cape in 230 feet of water. In 1975, the Monitor was named the nation’s first National Marine Sanctuary.