Complete Guide to Wilson's Creek National Battlefield in Missouri. The site of the 2nd major battle during the Civil War.
Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
Wilson's Creek was the first major battle of the Civil War fought west of the Mississippi River. The state of Missouri was of great importance strategically to both sides during the Civil War.
About Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
Missouri had more skirmishes and battles than any other state other than Virginia and Tennessee. On August 10, 1861 the first major battle fought west of the Mississippi River happened at Wilson's Creek.
Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon was killed in the battle becoming the first Union general to die in battle.
The battle of Wilson Creek ended in a Confederate victory. The Southern army was unable to pursue the retreating Union forces. This win allowed the Confederacy to take control of Southwestern Missouri for a bit.
The National Battlefield features a visitor center, battle site, driving tour, and walking trails.
Is Wilson's Creek National Battlefield worth visiting?
Yes, especially if you are interested in learning more about Civil War battlefields.
The parks visitor center has amazing displays and the movie does a great job of telling the story of Wilson's Creek.
The auto tour gives visitors the opportunity to see the landscape where the battles occurred.
History of Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
The first Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River took place in the area preserved by the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Park.
The Battle of Wilson’s Creek took place on August 10th, 1861.
An estimated 2300 soldiers died during the battle, including the first Union General of the Civil War, Brigadier General Nathanial Lyon.
Missouri was a politically split state, with half of the state wanting to remain in the Union and half wishing to leave.
The pro-Confederate forces from Missouri, called the Missouri State Guard, fought alongside the Confederates at Wilson’s Creek.
The Union Gen. Lyon surprised the Confederate forces camped at Wilson’s Creek in the early hours of August 10th.
The battle was fierce and most of the fighting occurred on ‘Bloody Hill’.
The battle lasted for around 6 hours. The Battle of Wilson’s Creek was a Southern victory that secured Southwest Missouri for the Confederates.
Before the Battle
The state of Missouri had divided opinions over its stance during the American Civil War.
Missouri was a slave-owning border state which had soldiers fighting for both the Confederates and the Union. The Missouri State Guard was a pro-Confederate militia created after the Camp Jackson Massacre.
Before the Union and Confederates met on the battlefield at Wilson's Creek, the Union and Missouri Militia had clashed violently in St. Louis.
Here, the Union attacked the militia’s camp because of their ties to the Confederacy. The Union marched the captured members of the militia through the streets of St. Louis. This turned into a violent riot, killing many.
After the incident in St. Louis, the Missouri State Guard was established under the leadership of Gen. Stirling Price.
After the Camp Jackson Massacre, Union General Lyon and his forces camped at Springfield, 10 miles from Wilson’s Creek. Under General Ben McCulloch's command, Confederate forces made their way to Wilson's Creek to reinforce the Missouri State Guard.
A Surprise Attack
By August 9th, both the Union and the Confederate Generals planned to attack. Lyon knew that the Confederate and Missouri State Guard outnumbered his 5400 men.
Despite this, he would not leave Missouri without a fight. Lyon planned to attack even if it was only to ensure that his men could retreat without the worry of being pursued by the Confederates.
On August 10th, at 5 am Lyon, made his move. He sent 1200 men under Gen. Franz Sigel to attack the Confederates from the back. The rest of Lyon’s forces caught the Confederates by surprise.
The Confederates camped in Farmer Sharps Field were surprised by heavy artillery fire on their camp from the hill above, what would become known as ‘Bloody Hill’. Although initially panicked by the surprise attack, the Confederate forces soon reorganized.
The Battle of Wilson’s Creek
After the initial shock of the attack, the Confederates and Missouri State Guard formed their lines and began to counterattack. The Missouri State Guard concentrated on trying to push the Union back from their Position on Bloody Hill.
The Confederates focused on Sigel’s men to their rear. The fighting was centered around the Sharp House.
The Confederates attempted to break the Union lines three times throughout the morning and failed. Gen. Lyon however, was killed during the battle and replaced with Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis.
Sigel's forces were the first to be pushed back by the Confederates because Sigel mistook the uniforms of a Louisiana regiment for Union troops and hesitated to return fire.
At this early stage in the war, uniforms were not standardized. Sigel's forces split up and retreated to Springfield while Gen. Sigel hid in a cornfield to avoid capture by the Confederates.
A Union Retreat
Although the Confederates managed to push back Sigel’s men, they could not break the Union line on Bloody Hill. Gen. Lyon was killed here during the second Confederate attack.
The Confederate's third attempt to take Bloody Hill would be the final push of the Battle of Wilson’s Creek.
The fighting lasted an hour. By this point in the morning, the heat was unbearable and many men were dropping from exhaustion.
The Confederates fell back a third time which gave the newly promoted Union Gen. Sturgis a chance to survey his army and weigh up his options.
The Union had suffered heavy casualties in the battle and was running low on ammunition. Sturgis decided to retreat rather than continue with the battle. The Confederates were too disorganized to follow.
Although the Confederates won the Battle of Wilson’s Creek and managed to retain the area of Southeast Missouri, the state of Missouri remained as part of the Union throughout the Civil War.
The Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Park protects the site where the battle was fought, with a monument on top of Bloody Hill in honor of Gen. Lyon.
Things to know before your visit to Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
Individual Fee - $10
Vehicle Fee - $20
Motorcycle Fee - $15
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.
Pets must be on a leash not more than six feet long and are not allowed in buildings.
Horses are restricted to authorized trails
We had intermittent service while in the park.
Tour road, battlefield, and trails are open during posted hours (changes by season).
Tour Road opens at 7:00 am for walkers and bicycles only.
Vehicle entrance begins at 8:00 am which requires a gate token issued inside the visitor center.
The visitor center and museum hours are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily, seven days a week.
The Library hours are 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday.
There is Wi-Fi available in 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.
There is a fairly good size parking lot next to the visitor center. There are multiple pull-offs along the auto-route
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
The National Park Passport Stamps are located at the front of the bookstore.
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.
Wilson's Creek NB is part of the 2005 Passport Stamp Set
Electric Vehicle Charging
There are 6 EV Charging stations within 10 miles of Republic, Missouri.
Details about Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
Size - 2,407 acres
Check out how Wilson's Creek NB compares to other National Parks by Size.
April 22, 1960
In 2021, Wilson's Creek NB had 271,245 park visitors.
In 2020, Wilson's Creek NB had 287,260 park visitors.
In 2019, Wilson's Creek NB had 232,838 park visitors.
National Park Address
6424 W. Farm Road 182
Republic, MO 65738
National Park Map
Where is Wilson's Creek National Battlefield?
Wilson's Creek NB is located in southwestern Missouri near Springfield.
Estimated distance from major cities nearby
Kansas City, MO - 176 miles
Tulsa, OK - 172 miles
St. Louis, MO - 227 miles
Wichita, KS - 245 miles
Memphis, TN - 290 miles
Oklahoma City, OK - 276 miles
Lincoln, NE - 370 miles
Omaha, NE - 360 miles
Estimated Distance from nearby National Park
Gateway Arch National Park - 228 miles
Hot Springs National Park - 240 miles
Mammoth Cave National Park - 460 miles
Indiana Dunes National Park - 533 miles
Cuyahoga Valley National Park - 773 miles
New River Gorge National Park - 815 miles
Congaree National Park - 895 miles
Where is the National Park Visitor Center?
The visitor center is at the entrance of the park before starting the auto tour route.
Getting to Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
Springfield Branson National Airport (SGF)
Branson Airport (BKG)
Kansas City International Airport (MCI)
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL)
Memphis International Airport (MEM)
Joplin Regional Airport (JLN)
Boone County Airport (HRO)
Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA)
Exit at Exit 70 (Missouri Highway MM). Continue south to U.S. Highway 60. Proceed through the intersection.
Continue ½ mile to Missouri Highway ZZ. Turn right on ZZ. Continue south to Farm Road 182 (Elm Street).
Turn left; the entrance to the battlefield is on the right.
From U.S. Highway 65 (south of Springfield):
Turn left (west) on Missouri Highway 14 at Ozark. Continue on Highway 14 to Missouri Highway ZZ.
Follow ZZ north to Farm Road 182. Turn right; the entrance is on the right.
Best time to visit Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
The best time to visit the park is spring and fall. Though the summers can be beautiful but muggy.
Weather and Seasons
Republic, Missouri experiences hot muggy summers and cold snowy winters.
The hottest weather is from June 2nd to September 16th with an average daily high above 80 degrees.
The coldest weather is from November 27th to February 25th with an average daily temperature below 52 degrees.
May experiences the most rain with an average of 4.7 inches.
The snowiest months are from November 16th to March 25th. January receives the most snow with an average of 3.4 miles.
The muggiest weather is from May 20th to September 24th. July is the muggiest month.
Best Things to do in Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
We suggest planning at minimum a couple of hours to visit the park.
You will need to stop at the visitor center and show your National Park Pass or pay the entrance fee to get a token for the auto loop.
While in the visitor center make sure to check out the park video. It really shows what happened during the Battle at Wilson's Creek.
We highly suggest watching the video before heading out on the auto tour so you know why each spot is included.
The visitor center also has a large display of guns, swords, and other weaponry. There are interpretive panels discussing the Civil War.
The Junior Ranger Program can be filled out while in the visitor center. There are a couple of pages from the auto loop but you can turn it in before completing the auto loop if you are low on time.
Self Guided Auto Tour
There is a 4.9-mile driving tour with stops at important battle locations. There are eight interpretive stops at significant points on the tour road including Bloody Hill.
Each of the stops is clearly labeled and has interpretive panels discussing what happened in that location.
The Ray House
The Ray House is open daily (subject to staff and volunteer availability) between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Civil War Research Library
The John K. and Ruth Hulston Civil War Research Library at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield is open 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday.
The research library includes around 15,000 cataloged books and other items.
Living History Programs
Living History programs depicting Civil War soldier life, musket and artillery firing demonstrations, Civil War medicine, and other related topics are presented from Memorial Day to Labor Day on selected weekends (subject to staff and volunteer availability).
Hiking in Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
Always carry the 10 essentials for outdoor survival when exploring.
There are five short walking trails within the park along with a trail system for longer hikes and horseback riding.
How to beat the crowds in Wilson's Creek National Battlefield?
We did not experience any crowds during our visit. The auto tour gives you the opportunity to pause or wait if there is a crowd of cars ahead of you.
Where to stay when visiting Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
There are no National Park Lodges within the park.
Holiday Inn Express and Suites Springfield - Consider a stay at Holiday Inn Express and Suites Springfield Medical District, an IHG Hotel and take advantage of a free breakfast buffet, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a gym. For some rest and relaxation, visit the hot tub. In addition to a 24-hour business center and a snack bar/deli, guests can connect to free in-room Wi-Fi.
AmericInn by Wyndham Republic - Take advantage of free continental breakfast, laundry facilities, and a 24-hour gym at AmericInn by Wyndham Republic. Stay connected with free in-room Wi-Fi, and guests can find other amenities such as a business center.
Quality Inn & Suites - A free breakfast buffet, laundry facilities, and a business center are just a few of the amenities provided at Quality Inn & Suites. Stay connected with free in-room Wi-Fi.
Bass Pro Shops Angler's Lodge - Take advantage of free continental breakfast, laundry facilities, and a fireplace in the lobby at Bass Pro Shops Angler's Lodge. For some rest and relaxation, visit the hot tub. In addition to a 24-hour gym, guests can connect to free in-room Wi-Fi.
Best Western Plus Springfield Airport Inn - Consider a stay at Best Western Plus Springfield Airport Inn and take advantage of a free roundtrip airport shuttle, a garden, and dry cleaning/laundry services. Stay connected with free in-room Wi-Fi, and guests can find other amenities such as a gym and a 24-hour business center.
Click on the map below to see current rates for hotels and vacation rentals near the park.
There are no 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
Here are a few of the campgrounds near the park.
Carson's Country Court - 37 miles from the park in Branson, Missouri
This campground offers RV sites.
Branson Stagecoach Campground - 43 miles from the park in Branson, Missouri
This campground offers lodging, RV and Tent Sites, a playground, and a pool.
Area 71 RV Park - 44 miles from the park in Shell Knob, Missouri
This campground offers Lodging, RV and Tent Sites, canoeing/kayaking, a dog park, and paddleboats.
Check out other nearby campgrounds on CampSpot.
Parks Near Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
Arkansas Post National Monument (Gillett, Arkansas)
Fort Smith National Historic Site (Fort Smith, Arkansas)
Pea Ridge National Military Park (Pea Ridge, Arkansas)
Fort Scott National Historic Site (Fort Scott, Kansas)
George Washington Carver National Monument (Diamond, Missouri)
Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site (St Louis, Missouri)
Harry S. Truman National Historic Site (Independence, Missouri)
Check out all of the National Parks in Missouri along with neighboring National Parks in Arkansas, National Parks in Illinois, National Parks in Iowa, National Parks in Kansas, National Parks in Kentucky, Nebraska National Parks, Oklahoma National Parks, and Tennessee National Parks