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Visiting Valley Forge

Ranger Jen Bolton, wearing a Continental Army uniform, speaks with visitors in the Valley Forge visitor center museum. NPS Photo/A. Gresek

For anyone traveling to the greater Philadelphia area, Valley Forge is a destination unto itself.

Preserved as the site of the 1777 to 1778 winter encampment for the Continental Army during the American Revolution, today it is a 3,500 acre park and one of the largest green spaces in southeastern Pennsylvania.

As part of a series of renovations and upgrades in preparation for the 250th anniversary of the Revolutionary War and founding of the United States, we reopened our visitor center after nearly four years of improvements.

The centerpieces of which are a new park movie and museum exhibition. Both include the latest scholarship on the soldiers at Valley Forge, and the women, children, and civilians that followed and supported them. Visitors can also see more original objects from the encampment, including some of the first uniform buttons featuring the initials “U S A.”

In addition to the visitor center and park movie, history seekers can also stop by Washington’s Headquarters. George Washington rented this small stone house for his winter quarters.

From the two first floor rooms, he ran the entire Continental Army and Navy. The house bustled with officers, enslaved servants, and notable figures like Alexander Hamilton. Today, you can see where these people worked and slept and learn about their roles, great or small, in founding our nation.

To see Valley Forge, there are several options to take it all in. There is a car driving tour that circles the heart of the park and takes visitors to the most import sites. Just be sure to pick up a map and cell phone guide at the visitor center.

For people who don’t feel like driving, the park bookstore sells 90-minute trolley tours with a live guide narrating your ride through history.

For people who want to literally follow the footsteps of the Army, almost all the significant historic spots are walkable through 36 miles of trails.

Even if you are not a history fan, Valley Forge is the perfect spot to get outdoors. The casual walker or serious runner will be right at home on the paved Joseph Plumb Martin Trail. People seeking an unpaved challenge can hike Mount Misery.

The Grand Parade offers amazing birdwatching opportunities, and Valley Creek has some of the best fly fishing for the properly equipped and licensed angler.

So, stop by the park’s website at www.nps.gov/vafo to see all you can do at the park,, and we hope to see you this year in Valley Forge.

Ranger Adam Gresek is director of Visitor and Community Engagement at Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Ranger Dave Lawrence addresses the crowd at an evening campfire program at Valley Forge National Historical Park. NPS Photo/A. Gresek
Washington’s Headquarters on a sunny day. NPS Photo/A. Gresek

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