Things To Do

Trip Planning

The following is intended to provide guidance for how to best spend time in the park based on your schedule. Make sure to check the Operating Hours & Seasons page to verify the current park schedule and availability of historic buildings. 

If you only have 1-2 hours, stop by one of our two visitor centers, pick up a map, watch the park film, explore the exhibits, and maybe take a short walk on a trail near the visitor center.

  • At Fredericksburg, the nearby Sunken Road includes a 0.5-mile route that will guilde you down the road from which Confederate defenders repelled multiple US assaults, up Marye's Heights where Confederate artillery was located, and through the Fredericsburg National Cemetery, the final resting place of over 15,000 US soldiers.
  • At Chancellorsville, the nearby Jackson Wounding Trail is a 0.1-mile loop around the visitor center at the location where Confederate General Jackson was mortally wounded. Across Bullock Road from the visitor center is another, 0.4-mile loop through the woods that follows a line of earthworks built by the US 12th Corps.

If you have 3-4 hours, you will have more time to explore the battlefields. Most visitors spend 3-4 hours visiting each battlefield. In addition to the visitor centers and short trails listed above, you could fit in some of the following activities:

  • Check out our program offerings during the warmer seasons on the park Calendar.
  • Take a self-guided driving tour of one of our four battlefields.
  • Depending on which battlefield you are visiting, stop by one of the following places:
    • Visit Chatham on the Fredericksburg Battlefield (open seasonally).The former slave planation was a hospital, headquarters, and communication center during the battle.
    • Visit Ellwood on the Wilderness Battlefield (open seasonally). Tour the house in the warmer months, or in the off-season, walk the grounds of this hospital and US headquarters during the Battle of the Wilderness. The arm of "Stonewall" Jackson is buried in the Ellwood family cemetery.
    • If you are traveling south, head to the Jackson Death Site at Guinea Station (open seasonally). The former farm office where Confederate General Jackson died is he only building left on the grounds of a what was once a larger plantation complex.

Most visitors can visit two of the park's four battlefields in one day. While it is possible to visit all four battlefields in one day, this option involves a lot of driving and minimal time exploring the grounds. In addition to the visitor centers and historical buildings listed above, consider the following:

  • Complete driving tours for two of our battlefields.
    • Visiting chronologically, most visitors stop by Fredericksburg, December 1862, first and then go to Chancellorsville, May 1863, both of which are located along Route 3.
    • If visiting the May 1864 battles, it is easiest to start with the Wilderness, off Route 3, which was chronologically first, and then visit Spotstylvania Court House, down Brock Road. Neither of these battlefields have visitor centers, though the Chancelloresville Battlefield visitor center is near the Wilderness and includes exhibits about the 1864 campaign.
    • If trying to to all four battlefields in one day most people follow a counter-clockwise route from Fredericksburg, to Chancellorsville, to Wilderness, to Spotsylvania.
  • Walk one or two of the trails. Each battlefield has a few options for longer hikes, the Lee Drive Trail at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville History Trail, Spotsylvania History Trail, and the Gordon Flank Attack Trail at the Wilderness, could be integrated into a day's visit.
  • Visit the Old Salem Church on Route 3 (open seasonally). Be sure to check our hours of operation. Scars of battle still are visible on the inside and outside of the church.

Many people choose to visit the battlefields over multiple days and spread apart visits to the visitor centers, the driving tours, and park trails. This works especially well for people who are local, folks who know they will be returning to the area, and for Civil War enthusiasts who may want to spend an extended amount of time exporing the park grounds. 

  • Stay current with park special events that occur throughout the year.
 
  • A couple walking a dog along a tree-lined road.

    Outdoor Activities

    Explore the battlefield grounds.

  • A man looking at a museum exhibit.

    Indoor Activities

    Visit an exhibit, historic building, or watch the park films.

  • A park ranger speaking at a battle map to a group of older teenagers.

    Guided Tours

    Learn about options for guided tours around the battlefield.

  • Brown park sign for Chancellorsville Visitor Center with spring flowers

    Hours of Operation

    Check out the park's hours of operation and other basic information to plan your visit.

  • A tree-lined road in fall curving around a bend.

    Podcasts

    Discover audio tours of the park to listen to at home or while you are here.

  • Two living historians stand aside cannon as it fires

    Special Events

    The park hosts many special events throughout the year. See if one coincides with your visit!

 

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    Last updated: April 17, 2022

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