Community-Led Conservation and Development

National Heritage Areas are places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes.  Unlike national parks, National Heritage Areas are large lived-in landscapes. Consequently, National Heritage Area entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs.

In 1984, the first National Heritage Area, Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Area, was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. In his dedication speech, Reagan referred to National Heritage Areas "a new kind of national park" that married heritage conservation, recreation, and economic development. As of 2022, 55 National Heritage Areas are designated. 

Today, National Heritage Areas and the National Park Service are making an impact nationwide: Read our 2021 Annual Report. 

The National Heritage Area brochure (NPS unigird) is a great way to learn more and easy to share. 

Learn more about an active NPS feasibility study for Kentucky Wildlands.

Heritage Areas 101: What is an NHA?

Heritage Areas 101: What is an NHA?

Learn more about National Heritage Areas and the NPS National Heritage Areas Program.

National Heritage Areas FAQs

National Heritage Areas FAQs

Get answers to frequently asked questions about National Heritage Areas and the NPS National Heritage Areas Program.

Last updated: July 27, 2022