8 National Heritage Areas You Should Visit




Ron Niebrugge / Alamy Stock Photo

Seward Highway in Alaska

When President Ronald Reagan dedicated the first National Heritage Area (NHA) in 1984, he announced that this, and others to come, would be “a new kind of national park”. The goal: to preserve areas of the United States that reflect the sense of place of their distinctive regions, including their natural and cultural history, and to provide exceptional tourist attractions and recreational and educational opportunities.

There are now 55 NHAs – each representing a specific theme or story in American history.

While national parks are typically large tracts of public land managed by the National Park Service, NHAs are a mix of public and private lands, managed by partnerships that typically include residents, non-profit organizations, businesses private and government agencies. These groups come together to help define, celebrate, conserve and share the natural, historical, cultural, scenic and recreational resources of the NHL. As with national parks, only Congress can establish NHAs, and NHAs are officially “related areas” of the National Park Service. The agency provides funding and technical assistance to ASNs.

Many heritage areas are quite large and some even include national parks within their boundaries.

Here are eight wonderful NHAs to visit:

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