Travel Tips & Themes National Parks, National Monuments, and National Historic Sites

Travel Tips & Themes: National Parks, National Monuments, and National Historic Sites

It can be difficult to articulate the difference between a national park and a national monument. I used to think that parks were land and monuments were other sites of historical importance, but White Sands is designated as a national monument, not a national park.

What’s the Difference Between a National Park and a National Monument?

As it turns out, the primary difference between a national park and a national monument has to do with the reason the land is preserved. National parks, like Yellowstone and Lake Clark, preserve and protect land for its ecological, educational, recreational, and scenic value. Meanwhile, national monuments, like White Sands, protect sites of cultural, historical, or scientific importance. The National Park Service also maintains national scenic trails, national historic sites, memorials, and more.

Pro Tip:  Use this tool to find a complete list of National Park Service sites by state.