Valley Forge National Historical Park | ENCAMPMENT TOUR

Valley Forge Encampment Tour Map (click to enlarge)

Valley Forge Encampment Tour Map (click to enlarge)

The Valley Forge Encampment Tour follows a 10-mile road and stops at nine points of interest in the area where the Continental Army under the command of George Washington made its winter camp from December 1777 through June 1778 at Valley Forge. Until modern times, armies deployed in 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. However, time was not idly spent, for the soldiers trained and drilled in order to improve their skills. This was the Continental Army’s first winter encampment, and there were many lessons to be learned.

Most people do the Valley Forge Encampment Tour in their vehicle, and each stop has its own parking lot. For those who want some exercise, the paved Joseph Plumb Martin Trail passes by all tour stops except for the Wayne Statue (Stop #4), Washington’s Headquarters (Stop #5), and Redoubt 3 (Stop #6). There is a trail that connects the J. P. Martin Trail to Washington’s Headquarters, and short detours on the lightly traveled park road lead to the other two stops. Both hikers and bikers are welcome on the trail.

While there are information panels and exhibits at each stop on the tour that explain the history and significance of the area, there are other ways to enhance your educational experience. The first stop on the tour is the Valley Forge National Historical Park Visitor Center, and here you can orient yourself to the history of the Valley Forge encampment by watching a 19-minute film and perusing exhibits in the Valley Forge Museum. For those with a CD player in their car, a 1-hour audio tour is available for sale at the Valley Forge Encampment Store (part of the Visitor Center). A streaming version is also available for sale. If you don’t want to spend any money, there is an excellent and free cell phone audio tour—dial the tour phone number and enter the stop number when prompted (ask for the brochure at the Visitor Center). If you are driving, I recommend listening to the tour stop information before getting out of your vehicle, that way you already know what you will be looking at.

A thorough exploration of the Valley Forge Encampment site takes five to seven hours depending on which historical homes and museums are open. I spent five hours, including a half hour for lunch, but did not go inside Washington’s Headquarters, the Valley Forge Train Station Museum, and Varnum’s Quarters. I also did not get to see the museum inside the Visitor Center. All of these facilities were closed when I visited, either due to COVID restrictions or renovation. Of course most people have no intentions of making a thorough exploration of the park, but even if that is the case, still allow at least three to four hours for the tour.

The Valley Forge Encampment Store offers a fee-based Trolley Tour of Valley Forge National Historical Park, but this only stops at the Muhlenberg Brigade and Washington’s Headquarters tour stops. The bus does slow down at some of the other stops so that the guide can explain the history of the location, but if you want to give the Valley Forge encampment area a thorough visit, you must do this on your own. The Trolley Tours is a great way to see the highlights of the park if you only have a few hours to spend.

See the following web pages here on National Park Planner for more information about each stop on the Valley Forge Encampment Tour. A navigational menu is located at the bottom of each page that allows you to move forward to the next stop or back to the previous stop.

Stop 1: Valley Forge Visitor Center

Stop 2: Muhlenberg Brigade

Stop 3: National Memorial Arch

Stop 4: General Anthony Wayne Statue

Stop 5: Washington’s Headquarters

Stop 6: Redoubt 3

Stop 7: Artillery Park

Stop 8: General James Varnum’s Quarters

Stop 9: Washington Memorial Chapel

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Last updated on August 3, 2022
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