Visiting Chattanooga

National Military Park, United States, Tennessee, Civil War, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Georgia, Battle of Lookout Mountain, Aquarium, Craven's House,

The first National Military Park in the United States was established in 1890. It honors the soldiers who fought in the Civil War at the battles of Chickamauga in September 1863 and Chattanooga in November of the same year. The park consists of 8200 acres on the Tennessee/Georgia border. The visitor centers are located at Chickamauga Battlefield and Point Park on Lookout Mountain. Chickamauga was the last major victory for the Confederates in the Western sector, though Chickamauga was taken by Union troops two months later. Cravens House played an important role in the Battle of Lookout Mountain and is open on a limited seasonal basis.

The Chickamauga Visitor Center is a must-see for Civil War and history buffs. There is a Battle of Chickamauga exhibit as well as the Fuller Gun Collection. You can even check out a Civil War timeline and a program depicting the famous battle.

Point Park Visitor Center has a signaling exhibit and James Walker's painting, "The Battle of Lookout Mountain." There is also an audio program available at the Visitors Center that describes the painting. Och Museum in Point Park has a soldier's exhibit that is most interesting as well as an exhibit that depicts the dedication of the National Military Park.

There are several trails available for hiking and walking at both Chickamauga Battlefield and Lookout Mountain. Both of these points of interest offer scenic beauty and abundant wildlife.

Different hiking tours are available according to your needs. Family, senior, and youth tours are available and range from easy to extremely hard. They last from 1 to 3.5 hours. There is one common factor in all of the tours. You have a great time, experience breathtaking scenery and when you are finished the hike, you will further understand the history of Lookout Mountain and Chattanooga. Hikes vary in price from $29.00 to $59.00. One advantage of hiking here is that you can design your own excursion based on several different hikes.

The Chattanooga Walking Tour is a scenic, historic tour of downtown Chattanooga. It takes from 1 to 2 hours, depending on the options you choose. This tour begins at Ross' Landing which is directly across the street from the Aquarium. You can enjoy beautiful scenery along the river and a walk across the Walnut Street Bridge. This is the longest walking bridge in America. On this walk, you will hear about the fascinating history of both Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain.

The Chattanooga River Walk Tour can also include Coolidge Park. Recently a new Carousel has been constructed in the park. The hand-carved wooden figures are exquisite and a delight for young children. If you wish, this tour can also include rock climbing at the 50 foot Walnut Street Climbing Wall.

During the summer months, daily walking and car caravan tours are offered. These include the living history rifle and signaling demonstration which will delight history buffs. The Cravens House is open all year round.

There are no camping facilities for public use in the National Military Park but ten primitive campsites have been reserved for the Boy/Girl Scouts. A variety of accommodations are available in the Chattanooga area. Dining facilities and grocery stores are scattered throughout the area.

There are bookstores at both Chickamauga Battlefield and Point Park Visitors Centers. Both of these facilities are wheelchair accessible. Here, you can watch videos to see parts of the park that are not accessible to the public. TDD (Telephone Device for the Deaf) is available at the Chickamauga Visitor Center. Handicapped parking is available at both parks.

I strongly recommend touring the various areas of the National Military Park. Taking in a day of hiking on the numerous trails will give you the feeling of being as one with nature. Panoramic views and breathtaking scenery are all a part of the wonders of the trails.

Reservations are required for a group-guided tour of the battlefield. These should be booked at least two weeks in advance. Permits are required for such events as weddings, religious services or commercial filming. To obtain a permit, call the Superintendents office at (706) 866-9241.

Be sure to set aside at least two hours to see Chickamauga Battlefield and one hour for the Point Park area. If you plan on visiting Cravens House, allow a half-hour for the guided tour.

Each year several programs are presented at the park to commemorate the battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga. Chickamauga's takes place in September, while Chattanooga's is a month later. The dates are always near the anniversary dates of the battles.

At Cravens House, a special event is held on a weekend near Christmas. The date varies from year to year. Enjoy a candlelight tour of the house which is decorated as it would have been in the Victorian era. On several weekends during the summer, reenactments are presented. These are most interesting. The rancid smell of gunpowder lingers in the air while soldiers in blue and gray uniforms fight the historic battles. A superb experience for all, but certainly a must for those interested in the Civil War.

For more information on specific dates and times of these special events, call park headquarters at (706) 866-9241.

Don't let your visit end here. Be sure to visit other exquisite attractions in the area. The Tennessee Aquarium, Create Discovery Museum, Rock City, Ruby Falls, Hunter Museum of Art and Lookout Mountain Railway Incline are all fascinating. The whole family will love vacationing in the Lookout Mountain area of both Tennessee and Georgia.

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