Complete Guide to Monocacy National Battlefield located in Maryland! This guide includes history, things to do, where to stay, nearby camping, and so much more!
Monocacy National Battlefield
This unit of the National Park Service protects and interprets the site of the Battle of Monocacy, which was fought on July 9, 1864, during the American Civil War. The battle was a Confederate victory, but it slowed the Confederate advance on Washington, D.C., and helped to save the city from capture.
Is Monocacy National Battlefield worth visiting?
Yes, Monocacy NB gives you the opportunity to learn more about the American Civil War and the battle that occurred in 1864.
It as pouring rain during our visit to the park and we still enjoyed our time there. The visitor center has a ton of information in the 2nd floor museum.
The auto tour is easy to maneuver just make sure to follow the stops in order so you don't get turned around like we did.
History of Monocacy National Battlefield
The Monocacy National Battlefield Park protects over 1,600 acres where the Civil War Battle of Monocacy occurred on July 9th, 1864. Confederate General Robert E. Lee orchestrated the battle in an attempt to draw Union General Ulysses S. Grant away from Petersburg, where he had the Confederate capital in a chokehold.
The Battle of Monocacy is known as the battle that saved Washington D.C from a Confederate attack. In the Summer of 1864, Confederate General Robert E. Lee had sent an army under the command of Jubal Early through the Shenandoah Valley. The goal was to invade Maryland and attack the Union capital of Washington D.C.
The battle was a Confederate victory that would prove to have more of a favorable outcome for the Union. As Early's forces fought along the Monocacy River, the Union was scrambling to defend Washington D.C. The battle gave the Union time to prepare for the Confederate attack on the capital.
The Battle of Monocacy in Context
By July of 1864, when the Battle of Monocacy took place, the American Civil War was over halfway through its third year of violence. On June 15th, the Union attacked the strategic Confederate city of Petersburg.
Grant's plan to destroy Confederate General Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia reached its critical moment on June 15th when Grant attacked Lee at Petersburg, Virginia. The city was a strategically important transportation hub between the Confederate capital of Richmond. If Petersburg fell to the Union, Richmond would be cut off from the Confederacy.
After a failed attack, Grant decided the only way to take Petersburg was to besiege it. On June 18th, the Union began digging siege trenches around the city of Petersburg and Richmond. By July of 1864, Lee needed to break the Union siege.
Lee attempted to distract Grant and hopefully pull his forces away from Petersburg by sending General Jubal Early into the Shenandoah Valley to rid it of Union occupation. After that, Early was ordered to invade the north through Maryland and march on Washington D.C.
The Battle of Monocacy July 9th, 1864
Early crossed the Potomac into Maryland on July 5th, 1864, after clearing the Shenandoah Valley. To stop the Confederate march toward Washington, the Union sent Major General Lew Wallace and 3,200 inexperienced Union troops to the Monocacy Junction. Wallace was joined by a division from Petersburg, bolstering the Union number of troops to over 6,000.
The Battle of Monocacy began with a skirmish along the Georgetown Pike. Wallace had the bridge burnt to slow the Confederate advance towards Washington. As a result, Early had to find another way to reach the Union position, using the Worthington Ford.
The Union line was on the Thomas Farm. Initially, the Confederates made some headway with their attack on the Union position, managing to push them closer to the Thomas House. However, the attack failed when the Union launched a counterattack and reclaimed the Thomas Farm.
The Confederates had made little headway by the afternoon other than crossing the Monocacy River. This changed when Confederate reinforcements arrived across the Worthington Ford.
Confederate Victory at Monocacy
The Confederates moved towards the Union position at Thomas Farm by way of Brooks Hill. The Confederates managed to push the Union line back from the farm towards the Georgetown Pike. The afternoon attack was fierce, with both sides suffering heavy casualties.
The Union line continued to hold the line on their right flank but broke when the Confederates started inflicting heavy artillery fire on the Union position. It was at this point, with over 2,200 casualties, most of which were Union soldiers, that Wallace withdrew from the field.
The Battle of Monocacy was a Confederate victory, but the Union ultimately benefited most from the battle. The battle at Monocacy had done what the Union needed it to do. It bought them time to protect their capital.
The Battle that Saved Washington
Washington D.C in 1864, was one of the most fortified cities on earth. That would have meant little if there were not enough soldiers in the forts to be able to protect the city. Wallace’s main objective was not to win against the Confederates at Monocacy Junction but to distract them long enough for help to arrive at the capital.
By the time Early reached Washington D.C. on July 11th, it was well guarded by Union reinforcements. Early was unable to take the capital. Although Grant did divert forces from the siege at Petersburg towards Maryland, it had little effect on the Confederate attempt to break the siege.
The battleground at Monocacy National Battlefield Park has not changed much since July 9th, 1864. It houses and protects the historic buildings and farmlands where the ‘battle that saved Washington’ took place.
Things to know before your visit to Monocacy National Battlefield
$0.00 - There are no entrance fee required 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
Pets are allowed at the park but not inside the building. Pets must be kept on a leash of no longer than 6 feet in length.
Cellular coverage is present in nearby communities and major highways, but some areas within the region may have limited or no coverage.
The park is open daily from 7:30 am to sunset during weekdays and 8:30 AM to sunset during weekends. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.
There is a public Wi-Fi available at the Visitor Center.
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.
Several parking areas are available at Monocacy National Battlefield, including the Visitor Center, Thomas Farm, Gambrill Mill, Best Farm, and Worthington Farm.
All of the parking areas are free of charge, and you can park your vehicle for the duration of your visit.
There are no food or restaurant options available within Monocacy National Battlefield. However, there are several options just a short drive away in Frederick, Maryland.
Frederick offers a range of dining options, from fast food to sit-down restaurants, and everything in between. You can also bring your own food and have a picnic at one of the park's designated picnic areas.
Several gas stations are located near Monocacy National Battlefield, with the closest options just a few minutes from the park entrance.
If you're driving a vehicle that requires fuel, it's recommended that you fill up before arriving at the park to avoid running out of gas during your visit.
Drones are not permitted within National Park Sites
National Park Passport Stamps
National Park Passport stamps can be found in the visitor center.
We use the Explorer Edition Passport Book that can be expanded and updated. This is a great way to track all of the parks you have visited over time.
Monocacy NB is part of the 2015 Passport Stamp Set.
Electric Vehicle Charging
There are 43 public vehicle charging stations with Level 2 and Level 3 ports available for use within a 15km radius of Frederick, Maryland.
Details about Monocacy National Battlefield
Size - 1,647 acres
Check out how the park compares to other National Parks by Size.
The park was initially established as a military park on June 21, 1934.
In 2022, Monocacy NB had 127,111 park visitors.
In 2021, Monocacy NB had 137,300 park visitors.
In 2020, Monocacy NB had 155,116 park visitors.
In 2019, Monocacy NB had 144,969 park visitors.
National Park Address
5201 Urbana Pike
Frederick, MD 21704
National Park Map
Where is Monocacy National Battlefield?
Monocacy National Battlefield is located in Frederick County, Maryland, about 50 miles west of Baltimore and 44 miles northwest of Washington D.C. The battlefield straddles the Monocacy River southeast of the city of Frederick.
Estimated distance from major cities nearby
Washington, DC - 42 miles
Baltimore, MD - 52 miles
Philadelphia, PA - 152 miles
Pittsburgh, PA - 201 miles
Norfolk, VA - 230 miles
Chesapeake, VA - 240 miles
Virginia Beach, VA - 245 miles
Newark, NJ - 229 miles
Jersey City, NJ - 235 miles
New York, NY - 241 miles
Estimated Distance from nearby National Park
Shenandoah National Park - 66 miles
New River Gorge National Park - 40 miles
Cuyahoga Valley National Park - 306 miles
Mammoth Cave National Park - 623 miles
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - 469 miles
Acadia National Park - 720 miles
Where is the National Park Visitor Center?
The Visitor Center is situated near the park's entrance and is easily accessible from major roads in the area.
Getting to Monocacy National Battlefield
Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR/KHGR)
Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD/KIAD)
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA/KDCA)
Harrisburg International Airport (MDT/KMDT)
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI/KBWI)
Carroll County Regional (QQG)
Eastern WV Regional Airport (MRB/KMRB)
Winchester Regional (WGO)
From the North (U.S. 15), or West (Hagerstown):
Using I-70 eastbound - Take Exit 54 MD Rt. 85/East Street. Bear right onto Rt. 85 toward Buckeystown. Turn left at the second traffic light onto Rt. 355 the Urbana Pike. The Monocacy National Battlefield Visitor Center is located about 1.5 miles on the left.|
From the East (Baltimore):
Using I-70 westbound - Take Exit 54 MD Rt. 85/East Street. Turn left onto Rt. 85 toward Buckeystown. Turn left at the second traffic light onto Rt. 355 the Urbana Pike. The Monocacy National Battlefield Visitor Center is located about 1.5 miles on the left.
From the South (Washington):
Use I-270 northbound – Take exit 32 and merge onto I-70 eastbound. Take Exit 54 MD Rt. 85/East Street. Bear right on Rt. 85 toward Buckeystown. Turn left at the second traffic light onto Rt. 355 the Urbana Pike. The Monocacy National Battlefield Visitor Center is located about 1.5 miles on the left.
Best time to visit Monocacy National Battlefield
If you're planning a trip to Monocacy National Battlefield, you're probably wondering, "When's the best time to go?" Well, let me tell you - the answer lies in the seasons!
Spring and fall are the top picks for a visit. Think about it - who doesn't love a mild and comfortable temperature for their outdoor activities?
Springtime, from March to May, is perfect for those who want to witness blooming flowers and greenery.
On the other hand, autumn, from September to November, is a colorful sight to behold, with the park's foliage on full display.
Now, you may be thinking, "But what about summer and winter?" Well, let me be real with you - summer can be hot and humid, and winter can be downright freezing. That's not to say you can't visit during these seasons - just be sure to dress appropriately and plan for the weather conditions.
No matter when you choose to visit, Monocacy National Battlefield is a truly remarkable destination that's sure to leave you with lasting memories.
Weather and Seasons
The hottest season is from May 30th to September 16th, with an average daily high temperature above 80 degrees.
The coldest season is from November 29th to March 5th, with an average daily high temperature below 51 degrees.
The snowiest season is usually from November 14th to March 31st, with snowfall of at least 1 inch a month. February gets the most snow, with an average of 7.7 inches.
Best Things to do in Monocacy National Battlefield
We suggest planning a few hours to visit Monocacy NB if not longer depending on if you want to walk the trails and spend time at a ranger program.
Start your visit at the Monocacy National Battlefield Visitor Center, where you can learn about the battle's history and the area's significance.
The center features exhibits, a film, and interactive displays that bring the history of the battlefield to life. The friendly and knowledgeable staff can also provide you with maps, brochures, and other information to help you plan your visit.
The junior ranger program is a great opportunity for visitors of all ages to learn more about the park. You can pick one up at the visitor center.
We do them at every park we visit and love diving deeper into the park while we are there.
Take an auto tour of the battlefield and explore the 1,647-acre park at your own pace. The tour takes you past 5 key sites of the battle, including the Gambrill Mill, the Best Farm, and the Thomas Farm.
You can stop at designated areas along the way to read interpretive signs and learn more about the history of the battle. The route follows public roads and totals about six miles round-trip.
Daily Ranger Programs
Join a ranger-led program and learn more about the history and significance of the Monocacy National Battlefield. The programs include guided walks, talks, and other activities that explore the battle and its aftermath. Check the park's website for a schedule of daily programs.
Hiking in Monocacy National Battlefield
There are seven walking trails through the park. You can pick up a trail guide at the visitor center.
- Trail Head - Visitor Center
- Distance - 1 Mile
- Difficulty - Easy
Best Farm Trail
- Trail Head - Best Farm (Tour Stop #1)
- Distance - 1.5 miles
- Difficulty - Easy
Ford Loop Trail
- Trail Head - Worthington Farm (Tour Stop #3)
- Distance - 1.6 Miles
- Difficulty - Easy
Brooks Hill Loop Trail
- Trail Head - Worthington Farm (Tour Stop #3)
- Distance - 1.9 Miles
- Difficulty - Difficult
Thomas Farm Loop Trail
- Trail Head - Thomas Farm (Tour Stop #4)
- Distance - 1.75 Miles
- Difficulty - Easy
Middle Ford Ferry Loop Trail
- Trail Head - Thomas Farm Loop Trail (Tour Stop #4)
- Distance - 0.25 Mile
- Difficulty - Moderate
Gambrill Mill Trail
- Trail Head - Gambrill Mill (Tour Stop #5)
- Distance - 0.5 Mile
- Difficulty - Easy
Always carry the 10 essentials for outdoor survival when exploring.
How to beat the crowds in Monocacy National Battlefield?
We suggest arriving early in the day and planning time to explore the auto route.
We did not experience any crowds during our visit but it was also pouring rain.
Where to stay when visiting Monocacy National Battlefield
There are no National Park Lodges within the park.
Nearby Lodging includes:
Residence Inn by Marriott - 3-star hotel. You can look forward to free continental breakfast, a free grocery shopping service, and a free manager's reception at Residence Inn by Marriott Frederick. For some rest and relaxation, visit the hot tub. Stay connected with free Wi-Fi in public areas, and guests can find other amenities such as dry cleaning/laundry services and a fireplace in the lobby.
Hilton Garden Inn - 3-star hotel. Take advantage of dry cleaning/laundry services, a bar, and a 24-hour gym at Hilton Garden Inn Frederick. The onsite restaurant, The Great American Grill, features American cuisine. Stay connected with free in-room Wi-Fi, and guests can find other amenities such as a business center.
Courtyard by Marriott - 3-star hotel. Consider a stay at Courtyard by Marriott Frederick and take advantage of a grocery/convenience store, a coffee shop/café, and a garden. For some rest and relaxation, visit the hot tub. Be sure to enjoy happy hour at the onsite restaurant. Free Wi-Fi in public areas is available to all guests, along with a library and dry cleaning/laundry services.
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott - Take advantage of free continental breakfast, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a gym at Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Frederick. Free in-room Wi-Fi is available to all guests, along with a business center and a snack bar/deli.
Country Inn & Suites by Radisson - 3-star hotel. Free to-go breakfast, a library, and laundry facilities are just a few of the amenities provided at Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Frederick, MD. In addition to a fireplace in the lobby and a gym, guests can connect to free in-room Wi-Fi.
Click on the map below to see additional hotels and vacation rentals near the park.
There are no any campgrounds at the park but there are nearby parks including Gambrill State Park, Cunningham Falls State Park, and Catoctin Mountain Park that offer a variety of camping opportunities.
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!
Parks Near Monocacy National Battlefield
C&O Canal National Historical Park
Catoctin Mountain Park
Gettysburg National Military Park
Eisenhower National Historic Site