Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park | PARK AT A GLANCE

Cannon overlooking Chattanooga at Lookout Mountain Battlefield

Cannon overlooking Chattanooga at Lookout Mountain Battlefield

PARK OVERVIEW

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park is the oldest military park in the United States, having been established in 1895, nearly twenty-one years before the National Park Service came into existence. At the time of creation, very little had changed on the battlefields, so what you see today is pretty much the way it was in 1863, the year of the fighting. Most of the 1,400 monuments and memorials in the park were placed in the late 1890s. The park’s purpose was to preserve both the Chickamauga Battlefield and the Chattanooga Battlefield—which are just seven miles apart—for historical and professional military study, not tourism.

Chickamauga Battlefield is near Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, and all attractions lie within one park boundary. Sites at the Chattanooga Battlefield, on the other hand, are situated at various locations in the greater Chattanooga, Tennessee, area. Park units include Point Park at Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Orchard Knob, Chattanooga National Cemetery, Signal Hill, and the Moccasin Bend National Archeological District, which lies across the Tennessee River from the Lookout Mountain Battlefield. Today the District serves as a preserve of prehistoric to modern human history, but Moccasin Bend did see action during the battle for Chattanooga.

Visits to the two battlefields can be made independently of each other, but if you want to stick to chronological order, fighting began at Chickamauga, where the Confederates defeated the Union army and sent them retreating to Chattanooga. Both battlefields have a Visitor Center where you can ask questions and get park driving and hiking maps.

As you tour the battlefields, either by car or on foot, you will find monuments, artillery, tablets, and information panels. Many of these lie far from the roadside stops and can only be seen by hiking or bike riding. Monuments are dedicated to various military units that fought in the battle, though there are a few dedicated to individual soldiers that were placed by the soldiers’ families. Monuments dedicated to military units were placed by surviving members of the unit and the state governments. Some monuments are simple markers, others ornate goliaths carved from granite or marble, often with metal sculptures and reliefs as part of the design. The monuments are located where the unit did its most memorable fighting. As you read the inscriptions on them, you are facing in the direction the soldiers themselves were facing during the fighting (the monuments are thus facing away from the fighting).

Tablets also line the roads and trails throughout the park. The information on the tablets describes which unit was at that location at a particular time and date. Blue tablets describe Union positions and red tablets describe Confederate positions. Most of this information is of little interest to the average visitor, but remember, the park was created to document the battle for historians and military professionals. After you have read a few of them, you’ll find yourself spending more time looking at the monuments and won’t pay much more attention to the tablets…unless, of course, you are a Civil War fanatic.

Tablet detailing Confederate losses in the Battle of Chattanooga

Tablet detailing Confederate losses in the Battle of Chattanooga


OPERATING HOURS

The Chickamauga Battlefield and Lookout Mountain visitor centers are open daily from 8:30 AM to 5 PM, except when closed on Christmas and New Years Days.

The Cravens House is open for tours during the summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day) on Saturday and Sunday from 1 PM until 5 PM when staffing allows. Call the Lookout Mountain Visitor Center at (423) 821-7786 on the day of your visit to confirm that the house is open.

The grounds of both battlefields, other than Point Park, are generally open during daylight hours every day. Point Park is open daily from 8:30 AM to sunset.

Times can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to get the latest schedule on the National Park Service’s official Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.


FEES

The only fee associated with a visit to Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park is for entrance into Point Park on top of Lookout Mountain. See the park’s Fees and Passes web page for the latest prices.


SCHEDULING YOUR TIME

CHICKAMAUGA BATTLEFIELD

Visitor Center
(allow 1-3 hours)

Battlefield Automobile Tour
(allow 2.5 hours)

Hiking Trails
(up to 3 days worth of hikes)

Cemeteries and Graves
(1-2 hours)

Biking
(1-3 hours)


CHATTANOOGA BATTLEFIELD

Lookout Mountain Visitor Center
(allow 1 hour)

Craven’s House
(allow 30 minutes)

Missionary Ridge
(allow 2 hours)

Moccasin Bend
(allow 2 hours)

Chattanooga National Cemetery
(allow 1-2 hours)

Orchard Knob
(allow 30 minutes plus drive time)

Point Park at Lookout Mountain
(allow 1-1.5 hours)

Signal Point
(allow 30 minutes plus drive time)

Hiking Trails
(up to 2 days worth of hiking)


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Last updated on February 19, 2020
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