Complete Guide to Booker T. Washington National Monument in Virginia, including things to do, history, nearby lodging and camping, directions, and so much more.
Booker T Washington National Monument
Booker T Washington National Monument is located in Southern Virginia. This US National Monument protects the birthplace of Booker T Washington who is known as the great educator.
He was one of the most influential African American of his era. The founder of Tuskegee Institute, presidential advisor, and he was granted an honorary degrees from Harvard University in 1896 and a honorary Doctorate degree from Dartmouth College in 1901.
About Booker T Washington National Monument
Booker T. Washington was born a slave in April 1856 on the 207-acre farm of James Burroughs.
Booker T. Washington National Monument is located on the former Burroughs Plantation.
In 1850, James and Elizabeth Burroughs moved their children and a few slaves to this 207-acre tobacco farm in southwestern Virginia.
Booker T Washington's' mother was the plantation cook, a slave named Jane. He was born in 1856.
He spent his youth working on the farm. He worked until the end of the Civil War.
Mr. Washington believed in the value of education and its power. At the age of 25, he was named the 1st president of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. While at Tuskegee Institute he recruited George Washington Carver to be part of the faculty.
Is Booker T Washington National Monument worth visiting?
It is worth visiting, especially for those who have an interest in history, particularly the history of African-Americans in the United States.
It is also a worthwhile destination for those who enjoy outdoor recreation, as the monument is located in a beautiful natural setting with hiking trails and other opportunities for outdoor activities.
History of Booker T Washington National Monument
The Booker T Washington National Monument preserves the birthplace of one of the most influential American American men of the 19th and 20th centuries. Born into slavery at a plantation in Virginia, Booker T Washington became one of the most influential figures in African American history.
At times, Washington was considered a controversial figure in American politics and society. In 1895 Washington gave his now famous Atlanta Expedition Speech seemed to some that Washington was advocating for racial segregation.
So, who was Booker T Washington, and why was he an important figure in American history?
Who was Booker T Washington?
Booker T Washington was a former slave who, in 1881, became the founder and president of the Tuskegee National and Industrial Institute in Alabama. Booker was a leader in the African American community and of the African American elite during a tumultuous period in the Southern United States.
Washington was part of the last generation of African American leaders born into slavery. Not only was Booker T Washington an educator and orator, but he became an influential author too. High-ranking politicians sought Washington out. Washington became an advisor to President Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.
The Birthplace of Booker T Washington
Booker T Washington, or Booker Taliaferro as he was named, was born into slavery in April 1856. Booker was not given a surname at birth and later chose Washington himself.
Washington’s mother, Jane, was a slave on a tobacco plantation owned by James Burroughs. Jane was the plantation cook. The simple log cabin Booker shared with his mother, and his two siblings was the plantation kitchen. Booker's father was an unidentified white man.
Booker lived as a slave on the Burroughs plantation for nine years. As a slave, Booker was not allowed to attend school despite wanting to. Booker’s tasks included carrying James Burroughs daughter, Laura Burroughs, books to the school where she taught. Booker also provided water to the men working in the tobacco fields and transported grain to the mill.
Booker T Washington During the Civil War
Washington was a child when America erupted into Civil War. The Burroughs family's sons left the plantation to fight for the Confederacy. Five of the sons fought at Gettysburg. Washington recalled that the owners of the plantation suffered during the Civil War, as they could not get the food and products to which they were accustomed.
During the Civil War, it was James' widow who ran the plantation, as James had died in 1861. Approximately ten slaves were working at the plantation during the war. When the war ended in 1865, enslaved people in the southern states were legally freed.
A Union soldier arrived at the Burroughs plantation and read what Booker believed to be Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Declaration. Booker's mother, Jane, moved her family to Malden, West Virginia, where Booker worked in a salt mine.
The Life of Booker T Washington After Emancipation
As a free person, Booker was allowed to attend school after he worked. Booker worked packing salt at the salt mine and later in the coal mines. It was while working in the coal mine that Booker heard about the Hampton Institute. The school was founded by Brigadier General Samuel Chapman specifically for formerly enslaved people to get an education.
Booker attended the school in 1872. In 1879 was invited back to the school to be a teacher. When the Tuskegee National and Industrial Institute was founded Washington was nominated to be the school's first principal. Booker was 25 years old when he became the head of the institute. He worked there until he died in 1915.
Booker T Washington, Orator and Leader
Life in the southern United States for African Americans was hard after the Civil War. It was extremely difficult and dangerous for African Americans to vote in the south. The introduction of Jim Crow laws at the end of the Reconstruction Era in 1877. African Americans although free, faced racial discrimination, which was made legal by the new laws.
As the head of the Tuskegee Institute, Booker became a leader in the African American community. as Lynchings in the South became more frequent, Booker made a speech on the role he believed African Americans should fill in American society.
Booker believed African Americans would gain the acceptance of white Americans through bettering themselves with education to provide needed skills. In 1985 Booker made his famous ‘Atlanta Compromise’ speech to a mostly white audience.
In the speech, Booker spoke of how he believed African Americans should remain separate from white Americans. His speech divided the African American community, beginning a feud with one of the most prominent leaders, W.E.B. Du Bois.
Booker became an advisor to two of America’s presidents, and the first African American to be invited to the White House in 1901 to advise Theodore Roosevelt on racial matters. President Taft continued to seek Booker’s advice during his time as president.
Things to know before your visit
$0.00, there is no fee to visit the park.
Planning a National Park vacation? America the Beautiful/National Park Pass covers entrance fees for an entire year to all US National Park Sites and over 2,000 Federal Recreation Fee Sites.
The park pass covers everyone in the car for per vehicle sites and for up to 4 adults for per-person sites.
Buy on REI.com and REI will donate 10% of pass proceeds to the National Forest Foundation, National Park Foundation and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities.
Learn more about National Park Passes for parks that have an entrance fee.
Free Entrance Days -Mark your calendars with the five free entrance days the National Park Service offers annually.
Eastern Time Zone
Leashed pets are allowed and required to stay on trails, roads, and developed areas but are not allowed in the park buildings.
We had great cell service in the park.
The park is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. Park is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
There is no public Wi-Fi in the park.
Insect repellent is always a great idea when outdoors, especially if you are around any body of water.
We use Permethrin Spray on our clothes before our park trips.
Make sure to bring your own water bottle and plenty of water with you. Plastic water bottles are not sold in the park.
There is a nice size parking area near the visitor center.
There are no restaurants within the park.
There are no gas stations within the park.
Drones are not permitted within National Park Sites.
National Park Passport Stamps
National Park Passport stamps can be found in the visitor center.
Booker T Washington NM is part of the 2006 Passport Stamp Set.
Electric Vehicle Charging
There are at least 44 EV Charging stations within 30 miles of Hardy, Virginia.
Details about Booker T Washington National Monument
Size - 223.92 acres
Check out how the park compares to other National Parks by Size.
The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966
April 2, 1956 - National Monument Designated
In 2021, Booker T Washington NM had 18,963 park visitors.
In 2020, Booker T Washington NM had 22,482 park visitors.
In 2019, Booker T Washington NM had 24,640 park visitors.
National Park Address
12130 Booker T. Washington Highway, Hardy, VA 24101
National Park Map
Where is Booker T Washington National Monument?
Booker T Washington National Monument is located on AV 122 (Booker T. Washington Highway), 22 miles southeast of Roanoke, VA.
Estimated distance from major cities nearby
Greensboro, NC - 90 miles
Raleigh, NC - 140 miles
Charlotte, NC - 170 miles
Washington, DC - 250 miles
Chesapeake, VA - 230 miles
Virginia Beach, VA - 280 miles
Baltimore, MD - 290 miles
Pittsburgh, PA - 380 miles
Estimated Distance from nearby National Park
Shenandoah National Park - 140 miles
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - 275 miles
New River Gorge National Park - 175 miles
Mammoth Cave National Park - 480 miles
Cuyahoga Valley National Park - 480 miles
Where is the National Park Visitor Center?
The Visitor Center is just inside the main entrance.
Getting to Booker T Washington NM
Roanoke Regional Airport (ROA) -25 miles
Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) - 130 miles
Richmond International Airport (KRIC) - 165 miles
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) - 190 miles
Washington Dulles International Airport (DCA) - 240 miles
Lynchburg Regional Airport (LYH) - 40 miles
Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD) - 120 miles
Public Transportation- Public transportation to the park is not available.
The monument is located on AV 122 (Booker T. Washington Highway), 22 miles southeast of Roanoke, VA. From I-81 take I-581, then U.S. 220 south from Roanoke to VA 122.
From the Blue Ridge Parkway take VA 43 south to VA 122.
From Lynchburg take U.S. 460 west to VA 122.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit the Booker T. Washington National Monument is when the weather is pleasant, as this can make for a more enjoyable and comfortable experience.
Weather and Seasons
The hottest weather is from May 28th to September 15th, with an average daily high temperature above 79 degrees.
The coldest weather is from November 29th to March 1st, with an average daily high temperature below 54 degrees.
The snowiest weather occurs between November 21 to March 19, with a snowfall of at least 1 inch a month. February gets the most snow, with an average of 5 inches.
Best Things to do in Booker T Washington NM
We suggest planning a minimum of a few hours to visit the park. The visitor center is amazing and you can easily spend hours exploring it and learning more about Booker T. Washington.
The visitor center is the perfect place to start your visit. There is a really great film that shares what life was like for Booker T. Washington.
There are exhibits about slavery and tobacco farming.
You can also pick up a Junior Ranger booklet from the visitor center and shop in the small park store.
You can watch the Measure of a Man park video online.
The Junior Ranger program can be completed while in the park. It is great for all ages!
Sheep, pigs, horses, and chickens help provide the mood to explore this recreated 1850s tobacco farm.
There is a picnic area near the visitor center.
Always carry the 10 essentials for outdoor survival when exploring.
The Plantation Trail is a ¼ mile loop through the historic area.
It is paved and does have a decline to reach the historic area which you will need to walk up to reach the parking area.
At the end of the trail, you can visit a reconstructed kitchen cabin where Booker T Washington's mother worked and they lived.
Jack O Lantern Trail
“Here I learned to love the soil, to love cows and pigs and trees and flowers and birds and worms and creeping things. I have always been intensely fond of outdoor life.” - Booker T. Washington
The Jack o Lantern Trail is a mile and a half through the fields surrounding the park. You can find trail guides at the visitor center.
How to beat the crowds?
We did not encounter any crowds during our visit to the park.
Where to stay when visiting
There are no National Park Lodges within the park.
The closest lodging to the park is 10 miles away.
Nearby Lodging includes:
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Rocky Mount - A free breakfast buffet, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a gym are just a few of the amenities provided at Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Rocky Mount, an IHG Hotel. For some rest and relaxation, visit the hot tub. Stay connected with free in-room Wi-Fi, and guests can find other amenities such as a business center.
SpringHill Suites by Marriott Roanoke - free breakfast, a free roundtrip airport shuttle, and a grocery/convenience store. The onsite bistro, Reflect, features international cuisine. Free in-room Wi-Fi is available to all guests, along with a coffee shop/café and dry cleaning/laundry services.
Hilton Garden Inn Roanoke - Located close to Tanglewood Mall and River's Edge Sports Complex, Hilton Garden Inn Roanoke provides a terrace, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a fireplace in the lobby. Stay connected with free in-room Wi-Fi, and guests can find other amenities such as a bar and a gym.
Hampton Inn & Suites Roanoke-Downtown - free continental breakfast, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a gym at Hampton Inn & Suites Roanoke-Downtown. Stay connected with free in-room Wi-Fi, and guests can find other amenities such as a business center.
Hotel Roanoke & Conference Ctr, Curio Collection by Hilton - 4-star historic hotel, free roundtrip airport shuttle, a poolside bar, and a terrace at Hotel Roanoke & Conference Ctr, Curio Collection by Hilton . For some rest and relaxation, visit the hot tub, and indulge in a sports massage, reflexology, or a manicure/pedicure. Enjoy al fresco dining and brunch at the two onsite restaurants. Stay connected with free in-room Wi-Fi, and guests can find other amenities such as a coffee shop/café and a garden.
Click on the map below to see current vacation rentals and lodges near the park.
There are no designated National Park Campgrounds within the park.
For a fun adventure check out Escape Campervans. These campervans have built in beds, kitchen area with refrigerators, and more. You can have them fully set up with kitchen supplies, bedding, and other fun extras. They are painted with epic designs you can't miss!
Escape Campervans has offices in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago, New York, and Orlando
Booker T. Washington Facts for Kids
-He was the first African-American man on a U.S. postage stamp.
-The "T" stands for Taliaferro, a name given to him by his mother.
-Booker recruited the famous plant scientist, George Washington Carver, to come and teach at his school.
-His father was a white plantation owner. Booker never met him.
-He wrote a book about his life called Up From Slavery.
-He was married three times and had three children. His wives all played important roles at the Tuskegee Institute.
-He was the first African-American man who was invited to the White House, not counting servants.
Parks Near Booker T Washington National Monument
Blue Ridge Parkway
Colonial National Historical Park
Check out all of the National Parks in Virginia along with neighboring National Parks in Washington DC, National Parks in North Carolina, National Parks in Kentucky, National Parks in West Virginia, and National Parks in Maryland
Check out all of the US National Monuments