View Full Version : Visting Gettysburg the week of July 4th?

06-16-2007, 06:57 PM
My father and I had been thinking about going to Gettysburg the week of July 4th for a vacation. I called the visitors center and asked about how crowded it would be, etc. The man said that there's a lot of people, it's hard to get a guide (not too important to me), it's hard to get a hotel, and there's a lot of noise from motorcycles. I've never been to Gettysburg but would really like to go. Has anyone been there on the week of the 4th/how was it. I'm planning on going to the 145th anniversery reenactment next year but would have liked to visit is before hand because I'm not sure how much time I would have available to do that. Also when I've been to other battlefield it seems like I was the only one there, how do crowds affect the experience? Thanks.

06-16-2007, 08:09 PM
I have been to GB probably about 10 to 15 times on the weekend of the 4th attending the CW memorbelia show which used to be on the 4th weekend. My advice would be to go some other time. The CW memorbelia show was moved to the weekend previous (23 & 24) to get away from the weekend of the 4th.

If you must go, plan on waiting to eat and enduring enough crowds to distract you from the battlefield experience. One thing that may work in your favor is that the 4th falls in the middle of the week.

By the way, if it is your first visit, I would recomend either taking the open top bus tour or get a guide. It will help get aquainted with the area. This will not be possible on the weekend of the 4th.

06-16-2007, 09:46 PM
I visit Gettysburg on average about dozen times during the course of the year. The best time to go is off season (fall/winter). The crowds are gone and you can really get into the battlefield without all the distractions. Now if you want to go on a day when the place is a ghost town, go the day after New Years. You will be alone.:wink_smil

06-17-2007, 08:28 AM
I live about 25 miles away and would offer this advice. Stay as far away as you can from Gettysburg on the July 4th weekend. Trafic nightmare, all of the trinket salesmen and businesses are going over the top and full force, trying to take advantage, once more, of the battlefield in any way they can. Not to mention what you'll see Civil War wise, in town, will probably make your eyes bleed. UNLESS, you desire to do one of the Ranger guided "walk along" programs that are offered over that time period, they're pretty darn good. the schedule for those walking tours can be found on the NPS website.

06-17-2007, 10:55 AM
Agree with Dave. Traffic will be bad epscially around little round top. If I were you and I wanted to see the field, park in the town somewhere (if you can find a place) or on reynolds or confederate avenue and hike the field. You'll see more and have to deal with the tourist traffic less. Other than that, mid-october or late April is a nice time to see the field. Hotels (they have built a lot more) will be more plentiful and rates ought to be lower. I'll be there doing park watch and if compared to last year, will yield some interesting times.

John Feagin

Charles Heath
06-18-2007, 04:17 PM
To echo the others, the anniversary weekend is absolutely the worst time to go to Gettysburg, and to elaborate on the subject of "traffic," just imagine your worst rush hour nightmare, and that is what the park roads are like from one end to the other with cars parked on both sides - creeping along at 1 mph. The best time is January through March, especially if there is a light snow to highlight the terrain features; however, late September isn't bad, as long as some local school doesn't have the motels overbooked for some homecoming hoohah. Don't even think about a fall foliage trip, as the leaf peepers have the historians outnumbered 1000 to 1.

06-18-2007, 04:58 PM
I lived in Gettysburg for 4 1/2 years (1980-1985) back when there WAS an off-season. I only spent one summer there, 1985, but it was misery incarnate. Hotter than Satan's drawers, humid like the inside of a dog's mouth and packed with sweaty, bored, ignorant people who only stopped by on their way to Hershey Park.

My advice for the weekend of the 4th, if one is forced to endure Gettysburg at that time, is to visit all the odd, forgotten corners of the field. I lived about 30 feet from Coster Avenue, and so I would go and stand on the site of the old brickworks on the afternoon of July 1st and try to picture 11th Corps flooding back through the fields. I never met another soul during my visits.

Then drive to Fairfield for dinner, and come back when the weather turns.

06-18-2007, 06:52 PM
Based on my experience I would STRONGLY recommend you pick another time to visit as it is really crazy there that weekend.

06-19-2007, 05:02 AM
This being your first trip to GB, I would heed the warning of my fellow posters. There is no getting away from the crowds, there is no place to eat without a hour wait, and absolutely no hotel space. However, with those warnings out of my system, Gettysburg on 4th weekend can be an experience in itself. Back in 2004 my wife, a pard, and me went to celebrate our returning from Afghanistan. We started planning a little too late but things worked out for us. We found a camp site (Granite something) that had somewhat decent rates, still way more than I wanted to pay for a tent site! Spent four days camping, visiting the battlefield and walking around town. The Gettysburg Bike Week was going on at the time, while it was a destraction, it added to the experience. In planning the trip I never expected to be spending late nights in a bar talking over the potentials of Day 2 with 5 or 6 drunk bikers. The week as a whole certainly was not the trip that I had expected. But that experience goes down as one of my favorite NP trips yet.

06-19-2007, 07:16 AM
That would be Granite Hill about 2 miles out of Fairfield on Rt 116. On the way to G'burg you'll pass Needle and Thread and Chris Daleys. They have a great bluegrass (so I have heard, never attended) festival there two times a year with pretty big national acts in August and May.... but I digress..

Fairfield is a nice town and if you go up Carrolls Tract Road (toward Cash Town) in Fairfield there was a cavalry action and if you go south on 116 and take a right on Jacks Mountain Rd. cross the covered bridge and go up over the "mountain" down to Rt 16 you'll be in Fountaindale where there was a skirmish. There was an article last year in Blue and Gray magazine (Volume XXIII, Issue 1) about it. As an interesting point straight ahead is Site-R. Look that up on the web for some interesting tidbits.

If you go to G'burg check it out (not Site-R as it is obviously restricted) it is only about 8 miles away and not that much traffic not to mention pretty country.

John Feagin

02-14-2008, 11:56 AM
Yes, yes, the traffic is awful...that's a no brain-er.

But, if it's his first time going, should traffic really dissuade him from seeing Pickett's Charge?

02-14-2008, 12:57 PM
Several years ago, kind friends extended an invitation to stay in their home in town during the week of the 4th. Knowing the logistics, I discarded the idea, but Dear Husband seized upon it like a mule on carrots, having never been north of Washington City.

Had we not been staying in a private home (albeit one under rennovation, with a fallen in ceiling, one bathroom, and our generous hosts giving us the one bedroom with airconditioning) this trip would have been a nightmare. Wayyy too crowded to see anything, even though we were avoiding the ususal tourist spots, and fixing meals at home. Don't forget there is a big week-long motorcycle rally in this time frame--one that has about as much to do with history as Dale Ernhart's image on a Confederate flag.

Time delays in seeing the NPS museum (I'd seen it, he had not) meant that much of the collection could not be properly viewed due to the crowds. Road traffic was very slow. Restrooms difficult to find.

However, the Park tour from Lee's headquarters all the way across the field to through Pickett's Charge, climbing fences at the road, resting and waiting in real time----THIS was worth it. We honestly thought we were signing up for a lecture at the statue when we took that tour. When I realized we were being sorted into companies under the watchful eyes of a few men in well-worn jean cloth, I quickly jumped to a different one, my ever obiedent husband saying "but the ranger put us......." .

Various 'troops' started out, falling by the wayside as appropriate, at their own company 'high water mark'. Over (and under) fences, through standing hay, and finally sending Dear Husband to run ahead of me, doing my pokey asthmatic best.

Walking back was harder than walking there, and then we drove SLOWLY around to end the day watching the sun set over that stone wall and long field. All quiet, despite the noise around us.

Or maybe we just heard a different time and place.