Colonial National Historical Park

Colonial National Historical Park

It began on the swampy marshes of Jamestown in 1607. It ended on the battle scarred landscape of Yorktown in 1781. It was 174 years of hope, frustration, adventure and growth that saw a lonely settlement of 104 men and boys grow into a nation of 13 colonies of 3 million people, of many races and many beliefs.

Jamestown and Yorktown mark the beginning and end of English Colonial America. Historic Jamestowne is a place of many beginnings, many first. It was the beginning of England's successful colonization of America with the first Permanent English Colony. It was the first seat of English government in Virginia, the place where the first representative government met in 1619 and the first recorded arrival of Africans to English America. Yorktown is the site of the final major battle of the American Revolutionary War. The Revolution secured independence for the United States and significantly changed the course of world history.

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Image Credit: Colonial National Historical Park

Hours

The Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center and the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center are open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. 
All park grounds close at sunset.  The Park is closed on Thanksgiving Day, December 25 and January 1.

The Historic Jamestowne Entrance Gate opens 8:45 AM to 4:30 PM daily from December 1 through February 28.
March 1, the Entrance Gate will open at 8:30 PM.

Glasshouse Hours: Open 8:30 AM - 5 PM.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)

Fees

Historic Jamestowne Admission

Adult (16 and older) - $14; good for 7 days entrance to Historic Jamestowne and Yorktown Battlefield. Passholders, $5

Yorktown Battlefield

Adult (16 and older) - $7; good for 7 days entrance to Yorktown Battlefield (and NPS areas at Historic Jamestowne).

Activities

Colonial National Historical Park is a multifaceted park providing something for everyone. For the nature lovers we have bird watching with over 200 various species. Wild life abounds with deer, raccoon, opossum, Red Tail Fox, Mink, Bald Eagle, Wild Turkey and many others. During the spring the fields are a rainbow of colors with wild flowers blossoming everywhere. In the fall the forest and tree lined parkway become a kaleidoscope of reds, orange, and browns.

For the health conscious you can walk, run or bike our Battlefield Tour roads, the Jamestown 3-5 mile loop drive or the Colonial Parkway. Or, if you prefer, you can drive these roads in the air-conditioned comfort of your automobile.

For the history minded the park spans the timelines from pre-colonization, through Colonial Virginia; from the end of English Colonial America through the American Revolutionary War; from America’s Independence to the Civil War.

Facilities

The Yorktown Visitor Center is the orientation point for your visit to Yorktown and Yorktown Battlefield. At the visitor center information desk, you can obtain a park brochure with maps and information, an orientation to the park, and an opportunity to schedule your visit around the various interpretive programs going on throughout the day.

Accessibility

The following facilities are accessible to wheelchair users:

  • The Jamestown Information Station (along the Colonial Parkway), the Visitor Center and Museum shop, the Historic Site, The Memorial Church (ramp on river side of church), The Dale House Café, and The Archaearium (by way of a ramp). The Visitor Center, Dale House Café and Archaearium all have mobility impaired automatic doors. The Glasshouse demonstration area is accessible by wheelchair but individuals may need assistance as the hard-packed dirt trial is steep. Those providing assistance to wheelchair bound visitors should keep in mind that pushing a wheelchair can be strenuous. 
  • Accessible restrooms are located at the Jamestown Information Station, the Visitor Center, The Archaearium and the Glasshouse (located in the Glasshouse parking lot area). Mobility impaired visitors may need assistance at the Jamestown Information Station and Glasshouse restrooms as no automatic doors are available there.
  • Wheelchairs and scooters are available at the Visitor Center on a first come first serve basis free of charge. We require all borrowed wheelchairs to be returned to the Visitor Center 30 minutes prior to closing.
  • The walking paths to the Memorial Church, Dale House Café and the Archaearium consist of a base of hard-packed earth and gravel covered with crushed oyster shell, all under 5% grade. The trail is considered accessible, but some owners of narrow wheeled chairs may find this material more challenging to negotiate than hard paved surfaces. Under extremely wet conditions, some people may need assistance to pass along the trail due to the softness of the subgrade. All Ranger led programs follow these paths.
  • Historic Jamestowne has a three and five mile paved loop drive of the island for touring by private vehicle. There are two trails off this loop drive, one at Black Point and the other at the Travis Graveyard site. These are hard-packed dirt trails, which are considered accessible. Significant rain or tidal flooding may make these paths extremely difficult to navigate by wheelchair.

For Those with Hearing Impairments

  • The Visitor Center film has open captions and a hearing aid compatible Assistive listening system.
  • American Sign Language interpretation may be available upon request. Please contact the park at least 14 days prior to your visit. Your request should be made in writing.

For Those with Sight Impairments

  • A general history of Jamestown in Braille is available at the Visitor Center information desk. Restrooms in the Visitor Center are labeled with tactile images and braille.
  • Using a PA system glasshouse staff narrate glass production throughout the day and visitors can ask questions of the glassblowers.

History

JAMESTOWN

England was a late comer to the American scene. Her first attempt at settlement was the fabled lost colony of Roanoke in 1587. Twenty years later, in 1607, through a joint venture company known as the Virginia Company, England established her first permanent colony called Jamestown. In 1619, onboard an English privateer ship, “20 and odd” Africans arrived and were traded to the English for “victuals,” or food stores. Thus the stage was set and Native Americans, Englishmen and Africans converge at one small settlement. From this convergence, what we know as the United States of America would blossom. It is from Jamestown, and the English, that, who and what we are as a people and as a nation, we trace our heritage of language, customs and laws.

In our History and Culture section we will provide various short papers, we call fact sheets, about the history, people, cultural remains and events of Jamestown. These fact sheets represent Colonial National Historical Park’s interpretation of Jamestown through the research of the historical records and the physical material remains (artifacts) of those who came before us.

 

YORKTOWN

Yorktown was established by Virginia's colonial government in 1691 to regulate trade and to collect taxes on both imports and exports for Great Britain. By the early 1700s, Yorktown had emerged as a major Virginia port and economic center. A well-developed waterfront boasted wharves, docks, storehouses and businesses. On the bluff above, stately homes lined Main Street, with taverns and other shops scattered throughout the town. Yorktown had 250 to 300 buildings and a population of almost 2,000 people at the height of its success around 1750. The American Revolution had entered its seventh year when, in 1781, British general Lord Charles Cornwallis brought his army to Yorktown to establish a naval base. In the siege by American and French forces that followed, much of the town was destroyed. By the end of the Revolution, less than 70 buildings remained in Yorktown and the 1790 census recorded only 661 people in town. Yorktown never regained its economic prominence. A fire in 1814 destroyed the waterfront district as well as some homes and the courthouse on Main Street. Additional destruction came during the Civil War Siege of 1862 and the occupation by Union troops that followed.


Today, there are still some tangible reminders of Yorktown's historic past that have survived, giving much of the town a colonial atmosphere. During your visit to Yorktown, stop at the Nelson House on Main Street, the home of Thomas Nelson, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and commander of the Virginia Militia during the Siege of Yorktown. For hours of operation, see Yorktown Programs and Activities.

As you stroll the streets, you have the opportunity to imagine Yorktown as it once was--a thriving tobacco port--that witnessed the last battle of the American Revolution.

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Last updated: April 30, 2019
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