My #BattlefieldsandBeginnings road trip

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:

  1. Manassas National Battlefield Park
  2. Prince William Forest Park
  3. Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park
  4. Fort Washington Park
  5. Piscataway Park
  6. Richmond National Battlefield Park
  7. Maggie Walker National Historic Site
  8. Petersburg National Battlefield
  9. Appomattox Court House National Historic Park
  10. Booker T Washington National Monument
  11. Guilford Courthouse National Military Park
  12. Moores Creek National Battlefield
  13. Cape Lookout National Seashore
  14. Wright Brothers National Memorial
  15. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
  16. Cape Hatteras National Seashore
  17. Fort Monroe National Monument
  18. Colonial National Historic Park (Jamestowne & Battle of Yorktown)
  19. George Washington Birthplace National Monument
  20. Thomas Stone National Historic Site
  21. Greenbelt Park
  22. Gettysburg National Military Park
  23. Eisenhower National Historic Site
  24. Monocacy National National Battlefield
  25. Catoctin Mountain Park
  26. Antietam National Battlefield
  27. Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
  28. Hamption National Historic Site
  29. Clara Barton National Historic Site
  30. Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial
  31. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

You can also find my national park passport stamps for the trip here.

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