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National Parks in Virginia Back to Top
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a 2,174-mile footpath along the ridgecrests and across the major valleys of the Appalachian Mountains from Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in northern Georgia. The trail traverses Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
Walk the old country lanes where Robert E. Lee, Commanding General of the Army of Northern Virginia, surrendered his men to Ulysses Grant, General-in-Chief of all United States forces, on April 9, 1865. Imagine the events that signaled the end of the Southern States' attempt to create a separate nation. The National Park encompasses approximately 1800 acres of rolling hills in rural central Virginia. The site includes the McLean home (surrender site) and the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia, the former county seat for Appomattox County. The site also has the home and burial place of Joel Sweeney - the popularizer of the modern five string banjo. There are twenty seven original 19th century structures on the site.
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial National Memorial
The house that Robert E. Lee called home for 30 years and one uniquely associated with the Washington and Custis families is preserved today as a memorial to General Lee, who gained the respect of Americans in both the North and South. Built by George Washington Parke Custis and his slaves between 1802 and 1818, the house and grounds have served many purposes over the last two hundred years: a family home for the Lees and Custises, a plantation estate and home to 63 slaves, a monument honoring George Washington, a military headquarters, a community for emancipated slaves and a national cemetery.
Assateague Island National Seashore
Storm tossed seas, as well as gentle breezes shape Assateague Island. This barrier island is a tale of constant movement and change. Bands of wild horses freely roam amongst plants and native animals that have adapted to a life of sand, salt and wind. Special thickened leaves and odd shapes reveal the plant world’s successful struggle here. Ghost crabs buried in the cool beach sand and tree swallows plucking bayberries on their southward migration offer glimpses of the animal world’s connection to Assateague.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway, sometimes called "America's Favorite Drive", provides both stunning scenery and close-up looks at the natural and cultural history of the southern Appalachian mountains. It is designed as a drive-awhile and stop-awhile experience. The Parkway meanders for 469 miles and connects Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks, providing ample opportunities for stops at overlooks, picnic and camping facilities, trails, and wonderful cultural and natural areas.
Booker T. Washington National Monument
Hardy, VA
On April 5, 1856, a child who later called himself Booker T. Washington, was born in slavery on this 207-acre tobacco farm. The realities of life as a slave in piedmont Virginia, the quest by African Americans for education and equality, and the post-war struggle over political participation all shaped the options and choices of Booker T. Washington. Washington founded Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1881 and later became an important and controversial leader of his race at a time when increasing racism in the United States made it necessary for African Americans to adjust themselves to a new era of legalized oppression. Visitors are invited to step back in time and experience firsthand the life and landscape of people who lived in an era when slavery was part of the fabric of American life. The park is located in Franklin County, 16 miles northeast of Rocky Mount, 25 miles southeast of Roanoke, and 50 miles southwest of Lynchburg.
Cape Henry Memorial
After four and a half months crossing storm swept seas 144 weary Englishmen made land-fall in April 1607. They anchored their ships in the protected waters of the bay and landed a small party upon the shore. They built a wooden cross and planted it in the sand naming the place Cape Henry. This is the first landing site of those adventurous Englishmen who, some three weeks later, established the first permanent English Colony in North America at Jamestown. Today this quarter acre of beach front is commemorated with waysides, a granite memorial cross, a statue of Admiral Comte de Grasse and a walkway ramp up the dunes to a magnificant view of where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Chesapeake Bay. Today Cape Henry Memorial is located on Fort Story Military Reservation in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park
The park encompasses approximately 3,500 acres across 3 counties and includes the key partner sites of Belle Grove Plantation, Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation lands and Visitor Center, Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation lands, and a developing Shenandoah County Park.
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network
First thoughts of the Chesapeake Bay often bring up images of crabs and oysters. But, as the largest estuary in North America, the Chesapeake Bay has touched and influenced much of the American story – early settlement, commerce, the military, transportation, recreation and more. The Bay and its surrounding 64,000 square mile watershed hold a treasure trove of historic areas, natural wonders and recreational opportunities. Experience the diversity of the Chesapeake Bay through the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network – a system of over 120 parks, refuges, museums, historic communities and water trails in the Bay watershed. Each of these sites tells a piece of the vast Chesapeake story.
Claude Moore Colonial Farm
Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean is a living history site that demonstrates the life of a poor farm family living on a small farm in northern Virginia just prior to the American Revolutionary War. Today, agricultural and household activities seen on the Farm represent an earlier era when small farms were dispersed throughout the countryside; and, most Americans engaged in activities of an agricultural nature.
Colonial National Historical Park
Colonial National Historical Park (NHP) administers two of the most historically significant sites in English North America. Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America in 1607, is administered jointly with the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, and Yorktown Battlefield, the final major battle of the American Revolutionary War in 1781. These two sites represent the beginning and end of English colonial America. Situated on the Virginia Peninsula, these sites are connected by the 23 mile scenic Colonial Parkway. Colonial NHP also includes Green Spring, the 17th century plantation home of Virginia's colonial governor, Sir William Berkeley, and the Cape Henry Memorial, which marks the approximate site of the first landing of the Jamestown colonists in April of 1607. Colonial NHP has a variety of natural resources including extensive wetlands, forest, fields, shorelines and streams, as well as rare, threatened and endangered plants and animals.
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Middlesboro, KY
Throughout the ages, poets, songwriters, novelists, journal writers, historians and artists have captured the grandeur of the Cumberland Gap. Thanks to the vision of Congress, who in 1940 authorized Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, visitors today can still bask in its beauty and immerse themselves in its rich history. The story of the first doorway to the west is commemorated at the national park, located where the borders of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia meet. Carved by wind and water, Cumberland Gap forms a major break in the formidable Appalachian Mountain chain. First used by large game animals in their migratory journeys, followed by Native Americans, the Cumberland Gap was the first and best avenue for the settlement of the interior of this nation. From 1775 to 1810, the Gap's heyday, between 200,000 and 300,000 men, women, and children from all walks of life, crossed the Gap into "Kentuckee."
Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park
Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania—this is the bloodiest landscape in North America. No place more vividly reflects the Civil War’s tragic cost, in all its forms. A city bombarded, bloodied, and looted. Farms large and small ruined. Refugees by the thousands forced to the countryside. More than 85,000 men wounded; 15,000 killed—most now in graves unknown. The fading scars of battle, the homeplaces of bygone families, and the granite tributes to those who fought still mark these lands. These places reveal the trials of a community and nation at war—a roiling cataclysm, a virtuous tragedy that freed four million Americans and reunited a nation. Please click on "In Depth" for information on visiting the park and park programs as well as detailed information on the battles and soldiers who fought in the battles.
Fredericksburg National Cemetery
In July 1865, three months after the restoration of peace between the states, Congress authorized the establishment of a National Cemetery in Fredericksburg to honor the Federal soldiers who died on the battlefields or from disease in camp. The site chosen was on Marye's Heights, the formidable Confederate position which had proven so impregnable to repeated Federal attacks on December 13, 1862. The Cemetery is part of Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.
George Washington Birthplace National Monument
People have made the pilgrimage to the birthplace of George Washington since 1815. Visitors from all over the world have come to see where the first President of the United States was born. Today this 550-acre park memorializes George Washington and the place of his birth. The park includes: Visitor Center; the brick foundation of the house where he was born; the Washington family cemetery where George’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather are buried; the historical area with the Memorial House, kitchen, and typical plantation surroundings; the picnic grounds with a nature trail; and the Potomac River beach area. Here, in these sublime surroundings, one can sense the character and spirit of the great whole man.
George Washington Memorial Parkway
The George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) preserves the natural scenery along the Potomac River. It connects the historic sites from Mount Vernon, where Washington lived, past the nation's capital, which he founded, and to the Great Falls of the Potomac where the President demonstrated his skill as an engineer. Developed as a memorial to George Washington, the Parkway may be used on any day to travel to exciting historical, natural, and recreational areas. These places are all linked by this planned and landscaped road, the first section of which was completed in 1932 to commemorate the bicentennial of George Washington's birth. Considered a commuter route by many local residents, the GWMP offers the traveler much more than convenience. It is a route to scenic, historic and recreational settings offering respite from the urban pressures of metropolitan Washington. It also protects the Potomac River shoreline and watershed. The parkway provides a pleasant day from Mount Vernon to Great Falls, passing through the same lands George Washington frequently traveled by horse. The Parkway links a group of parks that provide a variety of experiences to millions of people each year.
Great Falls Park
Great Falls Park, a site that is part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, is an 800 acre park located along the Potomac River 14 miles upriver from Washington D.C. The park is known for two things, its scenic beauty at the head of Potomac River fall line and the historic Patowmack Canal.
Green Springs
Green Springs National Historic Landmark District encompasses over 14,000 acres in the western piedmont of central Virginia. It is a shallow basin created by the erosion of a volcanic intrusion, geologic activity that created the particularly fertile soil which has sustained farming for almost three centuries. The homes and farms are a continuum of Virginia rural vernacular architecture, reflective and respectful of their location, preserved in their original context with little alteration. Here the landscape has been enhanced, rather than despoiled, by the presence of civilization.
Jamestown National Historic Site
Jamestown National Historical is a part of Historic Jamestowne, site of the First Permanent English Colony in North America. The National Historic Site consists of 22.5 acres on the western end of Jamestown Island, which includes the original site of the 1607 fort and statehouse site of the late 17th century. Visit Historic Jamestowne and step back into history by walking the same grounds as John Smith and Pocahontas. Visit the Memorial Church, which sits on the very site of the 1617 church. Walk the streets of James City and see the foundations of homes, taverns and industrial complexes. It is from here that the first permanent English settlement laid its roots in 1607. It is from here that the first representative legislative assembly in North America met in 1619. It is from here that three continents came together as Europeans encountered American Indians, and later brought enslaved Africans to this land. As the seat of Virginia government Jamestown became the focal point of Bacon’s rebellion in 1676.
Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove on the Potomac National Memorial
The Memorial is located in Lady Bird Johnson Park, a Potomac River island in Washington, D.C. The grove consists of two parts. The first area, commemorative in nature, is a granite monolith surrounded by a serpentine pattern of walks and trails. The second area is a grass meadow and provides a tranquil refuge for reflection and rejuvination of the spirit. The trails are shaded by a grove of hundreds of white pine and dogwood trees, and framed by azaleas and rhododendron.
Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site
Richmond, VA
The Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site commemorates the life of a progressive and talented African American woman. Despite many adversities, she achieved success in the world of business and finance as the first woman in the United States to charter and serve as president of a bank. The site includes her residence of thirty years and a visitor center detailing her life and the Jackson Ward community in which she lived and worked. The house is restored to its 1930's appearance with original Walker family pieces.
Manassas National Battlefield Park
Manassas National Battlefield park was established in 1940 to preserve the scene of two major Civil War battles. Located a few miles north of the prized railroad junction of Manassas, Virginia, the peaceful Virginia countryside bore witness to clashes between the armies of the North and South in 1861 and 1862. Today the battlefield park provides the opportunity for visitors to explore the historic terrain where men fought and died for their beliefs a century ago.
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail (OVNHT) commemorates the campaign leading to the battle of Kings Mountain by following the Revolutionary War route of Patriot militia men from Virginia, today's eastern Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina to the battle site at Kings Mountain National Military Park in South Carolina. Although the Trail is still being fully developed visitors may access approximately 30 miles of the route at various points along the 330 mile long corridor. A parallel Commemorative Motor Route may also be driven. The Motor Route uses existing state highways and, in some stretches, actually travels over the old historic roadway.
Petersburg National Battlefield
Petersburg, Virginia, became the setting for the longest siege in American history when General Ulysses S. Grant failed to capture Richmond in the spring of 1864. Grant settled in to subdue the Confederacy by surrounding Petersburg and cutting off General Robert E. Lee's supply lines into Petersburg and Richmond. On April 2, 1865, nine-and-one-half months after the siege began, Lee evacuated Petersburg.
Poplar Grove National Cemetery
In July 1862, Congress passed legislation giving the President of the United States the authority to purchase land for the establishment of cemeteries "for the soldiers who shall die in the service of their country." This legislation effectively began the National Cemetery system. With more than 6,000 graves, Poplar Grove National Cemetery reflects the tragedy that befell the United States during the Civil War. Each simple headstone is a poignant reminder of the human cost of war. In 1933 responsibility of the cemetery was transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service (NPS). It is closed for burials but visitors are invited to walk the grounds, which are open daily.
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
Five trails are currently recognized as segments of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail: - the 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail between Ohiopyle and Seward, Penn., managed by Laurel Ridge State Park, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; - the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage between Cumberland, Md., and Ohiopyle and between Pittsburgh, Penn., and Ohiopyle, managed by an alliance of organizations and agencies; - the 184.5-mile C & O Canal Towpath between Georgetown (in the District of Columbia) and Cumberland, Md., managed by Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park; and - the 17-mile Mount Vernon Trail and the 10-mile Potomac Heritage Trail in northern Virginia, managed by George Washington Memorial Parkway.
Prince William Forest Park
Triangle, VA
Prince William Forest Park, located in Prince William County, Virginia, is the largest protected natural area in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region at over 15,000+ acres. Today, the park serves as a window into the past, of what much of the east coast once looked like centuries ago. The park is an example of the increasingly uncommon Piedmont forest and its ecosystems and protects the Quantico Creek watershed. It is a sanctuary for numerous native plant and animals species. The park offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including wildlife viewing, 37 miles of hiking trails and 21 miles of bicycle accessible roads and trails. The park’s cultural resources are also varied. They include the remnants of Joplin and Hickory Ridge, two small communities existing prior to the park’s establishment, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), who built the facilities, roads and lakes during the 1930s and the U.S. Army’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS) who used the land exclusively for training spies and radio operators between 1942 and 1945, just to name a few.
Richmond National Battlefield Park
The Civil War (1861-1865) remains the central, most defining event in American history. Richmond, Virginia, was at the heart of the conflict. As the industrial and political capital of the Confederacy, Richmond was the physical and psychological prize over which two mighty American armies contended in bloody battle from 1861 to 1865. At stake were some of the founding principles of the United States as the growing nation divided over the existence and expansion of slavery. Only after the new Confederacy fired on a federal fort in Charleston harbor and Lincoln had called for troops to preserve the Union, did Virginia join the Confederacy. As war began, neither side anticipated the brutal clashes and home front destruction that brought death or injury to more than one million Americans and devastation to a broad landscape, much of it in Virginia. Today, the park preserves more than 1400 acres of Civil War resources in nine units plus the main visitor center at the famous Tredegar Iron Works. The Chimborazo Visitor Center houses a medical museum.
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park lies astride a beautiful section of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which form the eastern rampart of the Appalachian Mountains between Pennsylvania and Georgia. The Shenandoah River flows through the valley to the west, with Massanutten Mountain, 40 miles long, standing between the river's north and south forks. The rolling Piedmont country lies to the east of the park. Skyline Drive, a 105-mile road that winds along the crest of the mountains through the length of the park, provides vistas of the spectacular landscape to east and west. The park holds more than 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Trails may follow a ridge crest, or they may lead to high places with panoramic views or to waterfalls in deep canyons. Many animals, including deer, black bears, and wild turkeys, flourish among the rich growth of an oak-hickory forest. In season, bushes and wildflowers bloom along the Drive and trails and fill the open spaces. Apple trees, stone foundations, and cemeteries are reminders of the families who once called this place home.
Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial
Theodore Roosevelt was a man with vision. He considered the future before making decisions and his legacies still influence us. Perhaps his greatest legacy was in conservation. This wooded island is a fitting memorial to the outdoorsman, naturalist, and visionary who was our 26th President. After Roosevelt's death on January 6, 1919, citizens wanted to establish a memorial in his honor. The 91 acre wooded island in the Potomac seemed the perfect place. The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association purchased the island in 1932. Congress approved funds in 1960 and the memorial was dedicated on October 27, 1967.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
Wolf Trap National Park in Vienna for the Performing Arts began as a gift to the American people from Catherine Filene Shouse. Encroaching roads and suburbs inspired Mrs. Shouse to preserve this former farm as a park. In 1966 Congress accepted Mrs. Shouse's gift and authorized Wolf Trap Farm Park (its original name) as the first national park for the performing arts. Through a fruitful partnership between the National Park Service and the Wolf Trap Foundation, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts offers a wealth of natural and cultural resources to the community and to the nation.
Yorktown Battlefield
Yorktown Battlefield is the site of the final, major battle of the American Revolutionary War and symbolic end of Colonial English America.
Yorktown National Cemetery
In August, 1862, David Judd of the 33rd New York Infantry wrote upon passing through Yorktown: "Near to the fortifications [Confederate] was a Union Cemetery, containing the graves of 300 Union soldiers, each of which was adorned by a neat head-board, designating the name and regiment of the soldier." By the end of the Civil War in 1865, the total of Union soldiers buried in the "Union Cemetery" exceeded 600. The following year, the cemetery formally became a National Cemetery and Union dead from 50 sites within a 50 mile radius of Yorktown were re-interred in the newly landscaped cemetery. Today, the Yorktown National Cemetery, which is closed to burials, contains the remains of 2,183 soldiers, ten of which are Confederate. Only 747 of the dead are identified. Many of the dead are from the 1862 Peninsula Campaign and other battles around Richmond, though some died during the period Yorktown served as a Union garrison from 1862-1864.


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