Morristown National Historical Park | PARK AT A GLANCE

Cannon at Fort Nonsense, Morristown National Historical Park

Cannon at Fort Nonsense, Morristown National Historical Park


Morristown National Historical Park in Morristown, New Jersey, is the site of General George Washington’s Continental Army winter camp for three consecutive seasons beginning with the winter of 1779-80. Until modern times, armies deployed in the northern climates could not fight during the winter due to snow and ice. Instead, the men gathered at strategic points and built camps where they could wait until spring, or even early summer since the roads would be nothing but mud when the snow melted. Morristown’s strategic importance was that the British Army’s winter camp was just a two-day march away in New York, and between the two camps stood the Watchung Mountains and the Great Swamp, so there was no way for the British to pull off a surprise attack.

There were many winter encampment sites for various American militias and armies during the American Revolution, but those most remembered by history are the Continental Army camps that were under the direction of George Washington. He used Morristown four times, starting with the war’s first winter in 1776-77. The camp was moved to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, the following winter, then to Middlebrook, New Jersey. Washington returned to Morristown in the winter of 1779-80 and for the next two winters. Morristown National Historical Park was created to commemorate the 1779-80 winter because over 100 men died from starvation and the bitter cold. This was the worst recorded winter in the 1700s.

Valley Forge is probably the most famous of the campsites because over one thousand men died that year due to cold weather, disease, and starvation. However, the weather was much worse at Morristown in the winter of 1779-80, yet there were only a hundred or so deaths. By this time in the war the men were used to such conditions and hut construction and sanitation had drastically improved. Soldier huts at Valley Forge were set up haphazardly at the bottom of a valley, which resulted in a wet environment that caused miserable living conditions and sanitation problems. At Morristown, huts were built on the sides and tops of hills and were laid out in a uniformed grid system.

The story of camp life at Morristown is told in two parts. Near the downtown area, the Ford Mansion and the Washington’s Headquarters Museum focus on the lives of the privileged officers who spent the winter in local mansions. At Jockey Hollow you will learn about the lives of the lower ranking officers and enlisted men. While George Washington and his staff enjoyed fires and good food and drink, men at Jockey Hollow suffered from the cold and starvation.

Today there is nothing left of the Jockey Hollow camps other than the locations themselves. Hiking trails crisscross the park and provide ample opportunity for exercise. Some pass through the historic areas, while others follow picturesque streams. All trails are open to hikers, and a few allow horseback riding for those with their own horse. No biking is allowed on the trails.

There are also a few historical homes in the park. The Ford Mansion where George Washington stayed is open for tours. The Wick Farmhouse at Jockey Hollow where General Arthur St. Claire spent the winter is open on a limited basis. At the Pennsylvania Line Encampment Site in Jockey Hollow, you can visit replicas of huts in which the enlisted men lived.


The grounds of Morristown National Historical Park are open year-round from 8 AM to at least 5 PM. During the summer, hours are extended to as late as 8 PM.

The Washington’s Headquarters Museum, the Ford Mansion, the Jockey Hollow Visitor Center, and the Wick House are typically open as follows:

  • July 4th weekend through Labor Day weekend
    Open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 AM to 4 PM
  • All other times of the year
    Thursdays through Sundays from 10 AM to 4 PM
  • Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day

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


There is no fee associated with visiting Morristown National Historical Park.


Jockey Hollow Visitor Center
allow 30-45 minutes

Washington’s Headquarters Museum
allow 1 hour

Ford Mansion Tour
allow 1 hour

Cross Estate Gardens
allow 15-30 minutes

Fort Nonsense
allow 15 minutes

Wick House
allow 30 minutes

Automobile tour of the park
allow 7 hours (includes stops at all of the above attractions and a hike to the New Jersey Brigade Encampment Site)

Hiking Trails
27 miles of trails

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Last updated on June 28, 2022
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