We conducted a natural resource assessment at two national parks, New River Gorge National River and Shenandoah National Park, to help meet the goals of the Natural Resource Challenge-a program to help strengthen natural resource management at national parks. We met this challenge by synthesizing and interpreting natural resource information for planning purposes and we identified information gaps and natural significance of resources. We identified a variety of natural resources at both parks as being globally and/or nationally significant, including large expanses of unfragmented, mixed-mesophytic forests that qualify for wilderness protection, rare plant communities, diverse assemblages of neotropical migratory birds and salamanders, and outstanding aquatic recreational resources. In addition, these parks function, in part, as ecological reserves for plants in and wildlife. With these significant natural resources in mind, we also developed a suite of natural resource management recommendations in light of increasing threats from within and outside park boundaries. We hope that our approach can provide a blueprint for natural resource conservation at publically owned lands.