Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park | PARK AT A GLANCE

Billings Mansion at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park

Billings Mansion at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park


Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, Vermont, is the only National Park dedicated to conservation, and the only National Park in Vermont. The property is connected to a series of men who all had an interest in conservation, starting with George Perkins Marsh, whose family purchased the 55-acre farm in 1789.

As a boy, George spent a great deal of time outdoors and came to be concerned about the heavy logging of Vermont timber, both for the production of wood products and the clearing of land for farming. When stationed in the Middle East as a diplomat later in life, he saw desert landscapes that had once been prosperous farms, all ruined by slash-and-burn agricultural practices. He realized this was Vermont’s future if things did not change. Marsh noted in 1847, “But though man cannot at his leisure command the rain and the sunshine, the wind and frost and snow, yet it is certain that climate itself has in many instances been gradually changed and ameliorated or deteriorated by human action.” Nearly two decades later he wrote Man and Nature; or, Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action, the first book published linking man to the destruction of the earth.

After graduating from law school in 1825, George Marsh never returned to live in Woodstock. The house and farm were eventually inherited by his brother, Charles Jr., and it was he who sold the property to Frederick Billings in 1869. Billings, a native of Woodstock, was a wealthy lawyer and industrialist. He had moved to California at age 25 just in time for the gold rush in the late 1840s, though he made his money as an attorney and land speculator, not as a prospector.

Billings returned east at the outbreak of the Civil War, settling in New York City where he became an investor and president of the Northern Pacific Railroad. The Woodstock farm remained a summer home, though he did purchase additional acres and enlarged the modest house at the base of Mount Tom that was built in 1807 by George Marsh’s father, Charles, into the mansion that now stands today.

Billings had read Marsh’s Man and Nature and was interested in the burgeoning scientific farming and forestry movements. He was startled by the impact that farming had on the land, and he set about rehabilitating his farm by planting nearly thirty thousand trees. In fact, most of the trees on the property today were planted by Billings, for nearly all of them had been cut down by the Marsh Family to clear the land for farming.

Billings died in 1890. His will stipulated that the farm remain intact as long as his wife, Julia, was alive. He had four sons and three daughters, but it was the daughters who kept the farm going, and it was his granddaughter, Mary, the wife of Lawrence Rockefeller (son of John Rockefeller Jr.), who was the last Billings family member to live on the property. After she inherited the mansion and grounds upon her mother’s death in 1951, she and Lawrence made the Woodstock farm their summer home.

Lawrence had done extensive traveling to the western United States with his father, an outdoor enthusiast. Many of these trips were with men who established the National Park system, including Stephen Mather and Horace Albright. Lawrence’s interest in conservation was more geared towards protecting land from development for the good of the public, not to save the planet. He used his influence and wealth to create not only Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, but also Virgin Islands National Park. The Rockefeller Family as a whole played a hand in either creating or enlarging over two dozen of today’s National Parks.

In 1992, Lawrence and Mary Rockefeller donated the mansion and 550 acres that included Mount Tom to the federal government for the creation of Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park; the park opened in 1998. Nearly all of this remains forested land that is crisscrossed by twenty miles of hiking trails and ten miles of carriage roads, all of which are available to the public for hiking and horseback riding in the spring, summer, and fall, and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. The inside of the Billings Mansion can be seen on Ranger-guided tours.

Adjacent to the park is the Billings Farm and Museum. While not technically part of the National Historical Park, it is a National Park Service partner, and in truth, it’s probably the most interesting attraction in the area. The farm is a popular place for families, as there are all sorts of farming demonstrations and animals. The 1890 farm manager’s house is open for self-guided tours, plus there is an excellent museum dedicated to farm life in Vermont in the late 1800s.


The Carriage Barn Visitor Center and tours of the Billings Mansion operate daily from Memorial Day weekend through October 31st between the hours of 10 AM and 5 PM. The trails are open from dawn to dusk year-round.

The Billings Farm and Museum is open daily from April through October between the hours of 10 AM and 5 PM. From November through February the farm is open on weekends, Christmas week, and February vacation weeks from 10 AM to 4 PM. It is closed in March.

Keep in mind that times can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to get the current schedules on the National Park Service’s official Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park and the Visit Billings Farm and Museum web page.


There is no fee to stop at the Carriage Barn Visitor Center or to hike the trails at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. There is, however, a fee to tour the Billings Mansion, and there are fees for some of the other tours provided by the National Park Service. Get the latest ticket prices on the National Park Service’s official Fees and Passes web page for the park.

There is a fee for the adjacent Billings Farm and Museum. A discounted combo-ticket for a guided tour at the National Historical Park and entrance into the farm is available. If you aren’t sure what you want to do and originally purchase a single ticket for one of these activities, you can get the combo-ticket price if you later decide to purchase a ticket for the other attraction. Just be sure to keep your first ticket or receipt for proof of purchase. Ticket prices for the farm are listed on the Visit Billings Farm and Museum web page.


Standard parking for Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park is at the Billings Farm and Museum. At the far end of the parking lot (towards the farm buildings) is a sidewalk that leads out to Route 12. The entrance to the National Historical Park is located directly across the road. The driveway forks almost immediately; take a left to reach the Carriage Barn Visitor Center or a right to hike the park’s trails. It is a steep, uphill walk. If you are disabled, you can obtain a pass at the Billings Farm and Museum’s Visitor Center that will allow you to park directly at the Carriage Barn Visitor Center.

Entrance to Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park

Entrance to Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park


Carriage Barn Visitor Center
allow up to 1 hour

Billings Mansion Tour
allow 1 hour

Other Guided Tours
allow 1 to 1.5 hours

Billings Farm and Museum
allow 3 hours up to an entire day

Hiking Trails and Carriage Roads
allow at least an hour

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Last updated on June 16, 2020
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