Can You Buy Private Land In National Parks?

There are many private properties in the national parks like this homestead in Utah

Private property in national parks: the basics

Have you ever seen a home or other type of property in a national park and wondered if it is possible to buy land in a national park? You may have also wondered how it is even possible to own property in a public park. The fact is, our national parks are riddled with private land. In addition, a whopping 3 percent of the land in national parks is privately owned.

Across the U.S., over 4 million acres of private land in national parks are currently for sale. While you can buy land in a national park, it is almost always so expensive as to be prohibitively expensive for the average property buyer.

Why are there private lands in public parks in the first place?

When the United States was young, the government needed to expand the population throughout the country. To accomplish this goal, it granted the right to settle the land to anyone who wished to do so. As a result, settlers settled, built homes, and raised generations of families in some of the most beautiful places in the country.

As the U.S. established itself as a nation, national parks were established. The new parks were intended to ensure that the best lands were preserved for citizens. But settlers within the new park boundaries had often occupied their lands for several generations.

Therefore, their homes were very valuable to them. After all, they were located in the most beautiful areas of the country. For these reasons, the owners were often unwilling to be bought out. As a result, some of the land could not be acquired. For this reason, park officials continued their efforts to reclaim private land within the park. Whenever a landowner was willing to sell, the government purchased the land to expand the public space of the surrounding park.


However, like all good things, this came to an end when the government was faced with a shrinking budget. As a result, the funds allocated for the purchase of private lands within the parks were reduced to a trickle. The response was to simply draw the boundaries of the parks around the existing private lands, known as inholdings. This resulted in today’s park maps having so many “holes” where inholdings exist to this day.

After 1964, the government made an effort to buy up Inholdings when they came up for sale. This meant buying up millions of acres to use as public space.

More recently, however, budgetary constraints have meant that the government is usually outbid on land sales by private interests, including nonprofit trust funds. These trust funds purchase private land in national parks and turn it over to the Park Service to be preserved for public use.

Learn more about the purchase of private land

It is possible to own private land in a national park and hold it for investment purposes, resell it, or do whatever you want with it. Owning land in national parks comes with the same rights as any other private property.

The best way to buy land in a national park is through a real estate company like However, there’s a good chance you’ll be bidding against a nonprofit trust to buy it.

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