Yorktown Battlefield and National Cemetery (Image courtesy: John Athayde / Flickr)

Yorktown Battlefield and National Cemetery

The Yorktown Visitor Center is the orientation point for exploring the colonial Chesapeake Bay port of Yorktown and Yorktown Battlefield. Yorktown Battlefield is the site of the final, major battle of the American Revolutionary War and symbolic end of Colonial English America.

On this battlefield, between September 28 and October 19, 1781, General George Washington and his allied American and French army of 17,600 troops surrounded and besieged General Charles Lord Cornwallis' 8,300 British, German and American loyalist forces, which were fortified within the port of Yorktown. American and French artillery crews fired over 15,000 rounds of siege artillery upon the British continuously for nine days. On October 19, Lord Cornwallis, surrendered, effectively ending the war.

At the Visitor Center, view exhibits and find out about the various interpretive programs going on throughout the day. Take a self-guided auto tour that will allow you to enjoy and learn the history of the Siege of Yorktown at your own pace. Stroll the streets of Historic Yorktown, and imagine the town as it once was, a thriving tobacco port near the Chesapeake, that witnessed the last battle of the American Revolution.

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Hours

Yorktown Visitor Center: Opened daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. All park grounds are closed at sunset. Park is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. Phone 757-856-1240 (24 hour recording) for status of closures.

(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

Adult (16 and older) -$7; good for 7 days entrance to Yorktown Battlefield (and NPS areas at Historic Jamestowne); can be upgraded to see Preservation Virginia areas at Historic Jamestowne for an additional $7 at the Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center. Yorktown Battlefield will not be selling the $14 entrance permit for Historic Jamestowne. 15 and younger are free.

History

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.

Activities

A 15-minute orientation film, "The Siege at Yorktown," shows on the hour and half hour. From there, tour the museum exhibits which focus on the 1781 Siege of Yorktown, the Battle of the Capes, and the campaign table used by British General Cornwallis during the siege.

The Battlefield Driving Tour Roads are 16 miles in their entirety and are best experienced with a motor vehicle or by bicycle.

The Yorktown Trolley is transportation service provided by York County, throughout the village of Yorktown from the Yorktown Battlefield to the Yorktown Victory Center, as well as several stops in between, including Riverwalk Landing on a seasonal basis. (NOTE: The trolley does not travel the Yorktown Battlefield tour roads).

Exhibits in the park original 18th and 19th century earthworks, original 18th century buildings (Nelson and Moore Houses), Victory Monument, French Memorial and Yorktown National Cemetery (Civil War).

The park also administers portions of General Washington's Campaign Tents. On the roof of the visitor center is an observation deck which overlooks the battlefield. There are also tours of the Town of York and Revolutionary War Battlefield tours.

Facilities

Film, information desk, museum gift store, restrooms, Battlefield overlook and beach picnic area (open seasonally only).

Accessibility

Most exhibits and museums are handicapped accessible. Wheelchairs are available upon request. The historic homes in Yorktown are open only seasonally and wheelchair accessibility to the Nelson House is usually available with two-hour advance notice.

The Yorktown Trolley/Bus is wheelchair accessible.

Main image: Yorktown Battlefield and National Cemetery (Image courtesy: John Athayde / Flickr)
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