For those that don’t know, the National Park Service has a passport program that I found out about in 2017 and have been hooked ever since. You can buy these little passports that contain all the NPS sites and when you visit a site, you can get a stamp with the date in your passport. You can also collect annual regional and national stickers or stamps to add to the booklet. It’s a fun little way to keep track of where you’ve been and incentive to visit more!
While I was down in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area recently for a wedding, I was looking around the area to see what was nearby to check out to get the most out of a quick trip. To my enjoyment, Valley Forge was just 15 minutes away! So I visited the site on my way out of town. There is a ten-mile encampment driving tour you can do with nine stops, so it was perfect for me to explore that day. The first stop is the visitor’s center where you can get your stamp and walk through a quick museum on the history of the site and its larger meaning.
Stop No. 2 is Muhlenburg Brigade. Here, there are a bunch of reconstructed huts that you can enter to see how the soldiers lived while stationed there. There are many such scattered around the site, but this is the best place to explore them. A nice gentleman pointed out a reconstructed redoubt to me that I would have missed otherwise. It was very cool to see how they were built and used and what a great location it was as it sits atop a hill with long views stretching into the distance.
Stop No. 3 is the National Memorial Arch, a beautiful piece of architecture and a great photo op with the flag waving in the background on a beautiful summer day.
Stop No. 4 is the Wayne Statue, where the Pennsylvania commander looks longingly toward his home miles away.
Stop No. 5 is Washington’s Quarters. This is a large area on the site that is well worth getting out of the car and taking the time to walk around. It contains a few buildings and a great statue of Washington, made as a replica of one of the most famous of the founding fathers and the one Washington himself said resembled him best. Unfortunately, the buildings were closed by the time I arrived, so I couldn’t go inside, but I still loved roaming around this stop.
On my way to the next stop I passed the Soldiers of New Jersey Monument. I didn't see any monuments or markers dedicated to soldiers from New York, but I also wasn't able to see everything too well while driving.
Stop No. 6 is Redoubt 3. If I wouldn’t have seen the redoubt at the second stop, I wouldn’t have understood this one as much. I am very thankful, again, to the gentleman that pointed it out to me early on! This redoubt has not been reconstructed but enough exists to see how it was built and where it stood.
Stop No. 7 is Artillery Park and a beautiful location amongst an open field and a few trees with cannon on display. It is a reminder of the everyday fear of attack these soldiers had while stationed here, on top of the excruciatingly difficult conditions they were forced to live in.
Stop No. 8 is the Steuben Statue, Varnum’s Picnic Area and Varnum’s Quarters. The area where the statue is a pretty overlook onto the Grand Parade. There is also a walking trail down in the Grand Parade that looked interesting but I didn’t have time for. I also didn’t have time to check out the picnic area here, but I walked over to the quarters (although this too, was closed).
Stop No. 9, the final stop, is the Washington Memorial Chapel, a beautiful, more modern church. Again, as being short on time, I did not go in the church and the gift shop was closed, but the architecture was gorgeous and I enjoyed a quick walk around.
On the way out is the Patriots of African Descent Monument that I slowed down to check while driving past but didn’t get out to grab a photo.
Valley Forge National Site was well-worth the trip! I wish I had a full day to spend there to bike along the paved paths and to walk along the trails. I know there was a lot more to take in that I missed, but I am so glad I was able to check it out while in the area! I highly recommend it.
"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." --Anatole France