Our History

The Role of the National Historic Landmarks Program in the National Park Service

The National Park Service has a broader role than managing over four-hundred national park units. It is also responsible for historic preservation through federal recognition programs, in particular National Historic Landmarks and the National Register of Historic Places.

Most National Historic Landmarks are not owned or managed by the National Park Service. In fact, the majority of NHLs are privately owned. However, National Historic Landmarks and national park units sometimes overlap.

More than 200 National Historic Landmarks are located in or have boundaries that overlap with 125 National Park System units. Some historical and cultural resources within the park system were designated as National Historic Landmarks before becoming units of the National Park Service. Other park units have National Historic Landmarks within their boundaries that are nationally significant for reasons other than those for establishing the park.

For more on the history of the NHL Program and its place in the National Park Service, explore the publications links on the right side of this page.

Desolation Canyon and river
Desolation Canyon, UT

NPS Photo / Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management

Last updated: August 29, 2018