National Heritage Areas


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Silhouette of Wild Bill Hickok, former I & M Canal mule driver

Director's Message

"I have witnessed the growth and maturity of the heritage area movement and of individual areas, and am convinced of their effectiveness. They strengthen, complement, and support units of the national park system in a variety of collaborative efforts...

Heritage Areas are places where small investments pay huge dividends, providing demonstrable benefits in communities across the country and in partnership with our national parks."

red arrow Read the Director's memo in support of National Heritage Areas.

red arrow Watch the Director's video on National Heritage Areas. Click here to read transcript.

Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor turns 30 years old

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Northern Rio Grande Passport Stamp

Through the Passport to Your National Parks© program you can collect cancellation stamps at locations within National Heritage Areas.

Check-out our list of participating NHAs

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National Heritage Areas Newsletter

Read the Fall 2014 National Heritage Areas Newsletter

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The National Park Service commemorates the 1984 establishment of the first National Heritage Area in the country. On August 24, 1984, President Reagan signed into law the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor Act.

Visionary leaders sought to unite the 96-mile canal corridor, not as a National Park Unit, but as a National Heritage Area, preserving a large landscape focused on historic, cultural and natural sites, as well as active roadways, businesses, and residential and industrial districts.

The National Heritage Areas approach a large-landscape that includes active communities, a multidisciplinary emphasis, and community-based coordination was ground-breaking in the 1980s and it is to this day.

The I & M Canal National Heritage Corridor designation paved the way for future National Heritage Area designations. Today there are 49 National Heritage Areas throughout the country.

History & Heritage

Lackawanna Heritage Valley National Heritage Area

Across the country, National Heritage Areas and their partners are reviving historic downtowns, preserving battlefields and industrial sites, and telling our nation’s history in innovative ways. Learn more

Healthy Environment

Linville Valley, Blue Ridge National Heritage Area

Marvel at our National Heritage Area scenes from dramatic coasts to faraway treetops to revived urban waterways. Conservation activities led by National Heritage Area entities and their partners improve air and water quality and support a healthy ecosystem and beautiful environment. More here

Adventure & Excitement

Little River Blueway, South Carolina National Heritage Corridor

A plethora of recreational adventures are waiting to be had in a National Heritage Area near you. Last year alone over 130 recreational projects were undertaken by National Heritage Area entities and their partners. Learn more

Educating Future Leaders

El Espejo Summer Science Program for Girls, Cache la Poudre National Heritage Area

Through programs, such as El Espejo, National Heritage Areas and their partners are educating future leaders in history, science, and technology. More here

Economic Impacts

Downtown Jim Thorpe, Delaware &Lehigh National Heritage Corridor

Economic impact studies indicate National Heritage Areas (NHAs) contribute $12.9 billion annually to the national economy.

The economic benefits of NHAs are realized primarily through tourism and visitation. Each NHA coordinating entity serves as a catalyst for economic development within the regions they operate.

red arrow Read the 2013 report for information on six case study NHAs

red arrow Read the 2014 report for information on three case study NHAs