15 days. 2,486 miles. 31 new national parks.
In March 2013, I had one of my most productive national park road trips. I called it my #BattlefieldsandBeginnings trip, and it primarily focused on as-yet-unvisited national parks in Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland. I also snuck in a quick jaunt over the Pennsylvania border to hit Gettysburg and the adjacent Eisenhower National Historic Site.
My original plan was to add about 10 days onto a work trip that would bring me to rural Virginia and DC, adding about 15 national parks to my list. In the end, I was able to add a few extra days and more than double my original goal.
It was a fast-paced trip, but with some serious strategizing, early mornings and late nights, I was able to see everything I wanted. It helps that my targeted parks were located in an area dense with mostly historically-focused national parks.
I wasn’t able to make many other stops, most notably for the state high points or roadside oddities that have recently found their way onto my trip itineraries, as there were simply too many national parks available to visit. Of course, it’s not like I was passing many must-have photo ops along the way—unlike Kansas and the other fly-over states, there’s a dearth of fun roadside oddities near our nation’s capital (insert your own joke here).
Finally, one word about all of the battlefields I visited on this trip. I enjoyed them. No, really. After a battlefield-laden trip to the Deep South several years ago with Kim, I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy another battlefield in my life. However, watching Ken Burns’ excellent Civil War series this spring, I had a better appreciation for the various battles. Although, I’ll admit, I had really wanted to include Harpers Ferry to officially finish off all of the Civil War battles.
Here’s the listing of the parks I marked off my list:
- Manassas National Battlefield Park
- Prince William Forest Park
- Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park
- Fort Washington Park
- Piscataway Park
- Richmond National Battlefield Park
- Maggie Walker National Historic Site
- Petersburg National Battlefield
- Appomattox Court House National Historic Park
- Booker T Washington National Monument
- Guilford Courthouse National Military Park
- Moores Creek National Battlefield
- Cape Lookout National Seashore
- Wright Brothers National Memorial
- Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
- Cape Hatteras National Seashore
- Fort Monroe National Monument
- Colonial National Historic Park (Jamestowne & Battle of Yorktown)
- George Washington Birthplace National Monument
- Thomas Stone National Historic Site
- Greenbelt Park
- Gettysburg National Military Park
- Eisenhower National Historic Site
- Monocacy National National Battlefield
- Catoctin Mountain Park
- Antietam National Battlefield
- Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
- Hamption National Historic Site
- Clara Barton National Historic Site
- Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial
- Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts