Gettysburg National Military Park | PARK AT A GLANCE

Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania

Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania


Gettysburg National Military Park is located in the rural town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The park preserves the Civil War battlefield on which the United States and Confederate armies fought a three-day battle beginning on July 1, 1863. The battle is considered the turning point in the war. After major victories at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, General Robert E. Lee took his Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland and Pennsylvania intent on destroying the Union’s Army of the Potomac. The result was a disastrous defeat at Gettysburg that ended his northern campaign, and though the Civil War continued for another two years, it was the beginning of the end for the Confederacy.

Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. When the fighting ended, approximately 8,000 men and 3,000 horses lie rotting in the 90°F heat. Another 27,000 men had been wounded, and 11,000 had been captured or were missing.

Gettysburg National Military Park consists of the battlefield itself, a Visitor Center with a massive Civil War museum, the restored 1884 cyclorama painting of Pickett’s Charge, a 22-minute film on the Battle of Gettysburg, and the Gettysburg National Cemetery (aka Soldiers’ National Cemetery). There is also a unit of the park about four miles east of the main battlefield, East Cavalry Field, where Union and Confederate cavalry brigades clashed on July 3rd around the same time Pickett’s Charge was taking place.

Located in downtown Gettysburg and also part of the park is the David Wills House, the house where President Abraham Lincoln stayed when he visited Gettysburg to speak at the dedication of Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19, 1863. It was during this dedication that he gave his Gettysburg Address speech. You can also visit the Gettysburg Train Station where Lincoln arrived when he came to town.

If you are interested in seeing the battlefield on foot, you can take an excellent 7-mile hike around the southern end of the park utilizing the Bridle Trail and a few hiker-only trails that follow along the base of Big Round Top and Little Round Top. The route passes many farmhouses that were standing during the battle. Things haven’t changed much, so a tour on foot is a great way to transport yourself back in time.

Bridle Trail route passes a historical farmhouse at Gettysburg National Military Park

Bridle Trail route passes a historical farmhouse at Gettysburg National Military Park

The Gettysburg battlefield is arguably the best preserved and well-marked of all Civil War battlefields in the National Park system, and the battle itself is quite easy to understand. However, with all the monuments, markers, tablets, wayside exhibits, battlefield tour guides, tour buses, museums, and films, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. According to the National Park Service, there are 1,328 monuments and markers in the park. Forget about seeing them all. As you tour the battlefield, unless you are a Civil War fanatic, it is best to just take in the basic facts and casually enjoy the monuments. By the time you’ve watched the park film, visited the museum, attended a battlefield tour, and drove around on your own, you should have a very good understanding of the battle. Even if you are determined not to learn anything during your visit, the names of generals and common infantrymen will be stuck in your head because you’ll hear their names so often. But to learn about and remember every story and every regiment that fought at Gettysburg, that’s for the scholars and the obsessed. For the typical tourist, attempting to learn everything will just result in brain explosions.

Cannon marks the location of an artillery unit at Gettysburg National Military Park

Cannon marks the location of an artillery unit at Gettysburg National Military Park


The grounds of Gettysburg National Military Park and Gettysburg National Cemetery are open daily from sunrise to sunset.

The Gettysburg Battlefield Visitor Center and Museum are open daily from 8 AM to 5 PM, except when closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The facility closes at 1 PM on Christmas Eve.

The David Wills House is open Thursdays through Sundays from June until mid-August between the hours of 11 AM and 6 PM, and on Fridays through Sundays from 1 PM to 5 PM the rest of the year.

Keep in mind that times can always change, so before heading to the park be sure to check out the National Park Service’s official Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Gettysburg National Military Park.

Union position on Cemetery Ridge looking west towards the Confederate position at Gettysburg National Military Park

Union position on Cemetery Ridge looking west towards the Confederate position, Gettysburg National Military Park


There is no fee to tour the grounds of Gettysburg National Military Park on your own or to enter the Visitor Center and David Wills House. There are fees for guided tours and for the Gettysburg Museum, film, and Cyclorama presentation (inside the Visitor Center). Since the Visitor Center is owned and operated by the Gettysburg Foundation and not the National Park Service, National Park Passes are not valid for entry.

For current museum ticket prices, visit the Gettysburg Foundation’s official Film, Cyclorama, and Museum Experience web page.


Self-Guided Battlefield Tour
allow 3 hours up to an entire day

Guided Battlefield Tours
2 hours (typical) but can be longer

Gettysburg Museum
allow a minimum of 1 hour and up to 5 hours or more

Film and Cyclorama
allow 1 hour

Battlefield Hikes
various hikes from a hour to five hours

Gettysburg National Cemetery
allow 30 to 60 minutes

East Cavalry Battlefield Site
allow 1 hour (including drive time)

David Wills House and Gettysburg Train Station
allow 1 hour

Gettysburg National Cemetery

Gettysburg National Cemetery

Back to the Top

With a few exceptions, use of any photograph on the National Park Planner website requires a paid Royalty Free Editorial Use License or Commercial Use License. See the Photo Usage page for details.
Last updated on September 4, 2022
Share this article