A national park is a protected area of land open to the general public, and maintained by the government. In the United States, the National Park Service is responsible for the care and upkeep of our national parks.
Many national parks contain a noteworthy landmark, such as the Grand Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park, and the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Often, these landmarks sit in vast expanses of less useful land, doubly expensive because of its protected status and the cost of employing rangers to monitor unused and unvisited land. In this way, the national park system becomes a form of welfare for known degenerates such as Edward Abbey and Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who collected paychecks to live in federally subsidized housing while working as park rangers. Federal regulations also require a certain ratio of rangers per square mile, but sufficient applicants often cannot be found for this work. In a few cases, this has led to creative solutions from vexed park managers; in one case, a head ranger even deputized a black bear, Sugarcubes, a popular mascot among locals.
In Britain National Parks are different. The land often belongs to private owners but there are restrictions on what owners can do to preserve whatever is considered outstanding there.