National Park Service announces beginning of ranger conducted programs

shen national parkCedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park is once again offering ranger-conducted programs this year.  The National Park Service began public programs in 2010, and has been expanding its offerings in the three years since.

Ranger programs began last weekend during Belle Grove Plantation Manor House’s “Opening Day” and will continue on weekends throughout this spring.  Programs will be offered on a daily basis from mid-June through mid-August, and on weekends again in the fall.

These programs tell the park’s many stories related to the rich cultural history of the Shenandoah Valley, its settlement, the Battle of Cedar Creek and the impact of the Civil War on both the local communities and the nation as a whole.   All of the ranger-led programs are free and include:

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove “in a Box” – A Park Overview is a 30 minute orientation on the history and settlement of the Shenandoah Valley, the Battle of Cedar Creek and the impact of the Civil War on the Valley.  This interactive program, for both adults and children, uses various props (taken out of a box) and the surrounding landscape features to “create” and tell the park’s many stories by literally placing visitors “in the middle of the park.”  Presented on the front lawn of Belle Grove.

“From Back Country to Breadbasket” The Peopling of the Shenandoah Valley  This 30 minute overview program covers the history of the Shenandoah Valley from its creation, through the eve of the Civil War.  This program will be presented on the front lawn of Belle Grove.

“To Battlefield and Beyond” War Comes to the Shenandoah Valley  This 45 minute program examines the many military campaigns and battles that occurred in the Valley and their effect upon the local communities.  Presented at Hupp’s Hill Civil War Park.

Battle of Cedar Creek Tour  A two-hour guided tour, using a car-caravan system (visitors follow the ranger’s vehicle), covers the Battle of Cedar Creek in a chronological fashion.  This 13 mile tour follows the major events of the fighting and includes stops at the key landmarks associated with the battle.  Tours begin at the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation Headquarters.

Middletown Civil War Walking Tours Discover the many layers of Civil War history by learning about the citizens of Middletown who lived through those difficult times and how the war impacted their lives.  Meet the ranger for a 90 minute walking tour at the intersection of Main Street and First Street, Middletown.  Offered at 5:00 p.m. on the 3rd Saturday of each month, June-October.

Civil War Entrenchment Tour  Some of the most pristine Civil War entrenchments in the Shenandoah Valley are located on the bluffs above Cedar Creek and are preserved by the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation.  Join a Park Ranger for a walking tour and learn not only how these works were constructed but also what role they played in the battle.  Meet at the parking lot of the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, 8437 Valley Pike, Middletown.

The 8th Vermont Monument at Cedar Creek  Visit one of the few monuments located on the battlefield and learn the story of the New England regiment it memorializes.  Meet at 8739 Valley Pike, Middletown, VA 22645 (a Park Service banner marks the site).  A short walk over moderate terrain is required.  Good walking shoes or boots are recommended.

A series of special programs called History at Sunset will be presented on select Friday evenings during the summer.  These tours will cover a wide variety of subjects related to the park’s rich cultural history and give visitors an opportunity to see sites not normally open to the general public.  Explore and learn about some of the many “hidden gems” of Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP.  Tours will be 60-90 minutes and begin at 7:00 p.m. The program schedule will be released at a later date.

Program schedules will be announced weekly on the park website ( or call for a current schedule.  Visitors should contact the park at (540) 869-3051 for a current schedule and weather-related program changes.


About Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park:   Created on December 19, 2002, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park encompasses approximately 3,700 acres across three counties and includes the key partner sites of Belle Grove Plantation (owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and managed by Belle Grove, Inc.), Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, and a developing Shenandoah County Park. The partner sites continue to be owned and operated independently.

The park commemorates a nationally significant Civil War landscape and antebellum plantation by sharing the story of Shenandoah Valley history from early settlement through the Civil War and beyond. The park is also located within the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District, a National Heritage Area.

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