As you travel among the National Parks System and see the many different National Parks and National Monuments, it won’t take long before you will wonder to yourself, “What is the difference between National Parks and National Monuments?” This is especially true when you realize that National Monuments that may not be as well known as National Parks hold just as much beauty and awe-inspiring sights as their National Park counterparts.
Although there has not been a steadfast criteria over the entire period that National Parks and National Monuments have been created, there’s a pretty specific set of criteria used today. The main difference is that National Parks are created through acts of congress and must be large enough for broad use by the public. National Parks should have inspirational, educational and recreational value. National Monuments, on the other hand, are made through declarations from the president and have historic, prehistoric, or scientific interest.