Gettysburg visit.. How long?

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Well-known member
Jun 20, 2013
Not big time history buffs but want to visit Gettysburg's battle fields. Planning mid to late October.  Would 3 days there works?  Also, any recommendations for campgrounds would be appreciated.  Just adults..... (well...over the level age..anyway) on this trip.

We stayed three days and that seemed to be enough. We took a ghost tour one evening. That was fun and actually pretty informative. The nice thing about the Gettysburg battlefields is it?s a driving tour. Be sure to get a map.
Three days is good, especially since you say "not big history buffs".  Unless you want to thoroughly immerse yourself in the battlefield, you could get an appreciation and sense of the place in a full day.  Three days will give you flexibility and see it more leisurely and explore the town of Gettysburg where there are sites pertaining to the battle.  The only campground we stayed at, and really enjoyed is Caladonia State Park, just outside and an easy drive into Gettysburg.  I am a history buff, especially the Civil War and have been to Gettysburg several times, the last time was the first time with an RV and if I were to go back, we would definitely stay at Caladonia State Park.
I spent two days there. That was enough for me. The highlight is the recreation of the battlefield inside the visitors center with a large table full of light representing the regiments. I also loved the gun collection they had and I don't like guns.
If you like to ride a bicycle or horse, the Artillery Ridge Campground is right next to the park.  The horseback rides have a guide and can provide information.  You can ride a bike on all the roads and right into Gettysburg, I would ride those few miles for breakfast at the edge of town.
Thanks for the good information.  Sounds like it will be very interesting. :))

If they're still doing the guided driving tours it's well worth it. Ranger/guide rides in your car, has you stop at key points and lays out the various battles. Extremely interesting and made the fields really come alive.
The cyclorama is pretty neat considering it is something like 120 years old. Its a 360 degrees, 3D painting of the civil war at Gettysburg. I thought it was interesting. There cant be many of those left after all these years. We had an app that used gps to tell you what happened at each location you are at. I cant remember what it was called.
  Think you would be good with two days in the battlefield and a day in the town of gettysburg. I especially like it because my distant uncles owned the David Wills hotel where Lincoln wrote his gettysburg address and another owned the Globe Inn during the war. It has since been burnt down and replaced with another hotel.
  If you like the battlefield aspect then I recommend Antietam National Park which is an hours ride south to Sharpsburg Md. It is famous for being the bloodiest battle of the war. 23,000 people lost their lives in a single day...Hard to imagine the carnage.
We enjoyed the Gettsburg Campground. We were there this past April. Highly recommend going to the Museum, Movie and Cylorama in the Visitor's Center. Do this first, to have a better understanding of the whole area and battlefields. Takes one full day.

For the second day we just did our own driving tour. Get a map ftom the VC. Be sure to start at #1, as it describes the chronological order of the 3 days of battles. The Map has a little info. However, each stop has an info board that explains in more detail. This took about 4 hours. Then we spent sometime at the Gettysburg Cemetary. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as there is quite a bit of walking at each stop.
Back2PA said:
If they're still doing the guided driving tours it's well worth it. Ranger/guide rides in your car, has you stop at key points and lays out the various battles. Extremely interesting and made the fields really come alive.

Well worth it indeed. We took a guided tour a couple years back. You have a completely different perspective than you get from the stationary exhibits. Strange feeling when you're at one of the stops and the guide is relating what happened during the war on that very spot.
I also am not the history buff of our family but I found the visitor center extremely good and will easily take a day.  The museum and battle of gettysburg cyclorama are worth the cost.  We did the self driving tour of the battlefields and Dan said he enjoyed it.  Lots of monuments and much of the battlefields are intact. We stayed at Little Drummer Boy just outside Gettysburg June 2019. There are numerous free ranger programs for more information.

Jennifer and Dan (the history buff)
Ditto to all that has been mentioned. We stayed in a state park, must have been the one mentioned.  It was very nice and a relatively easy drive to Gettysburg. We rented bicycles right there in the national park for a day that included a guided tour for I/2 of the day that was excellent. We toured other parts if the park that was not part of the bike tour for the other half. I would do the cyclorama and visitor center first on day one. The cyclorama presentation will provide you a bearing for the action-be prepared, it could illicit an emotional reaction as the light and sound show are impressive telling a sad story.

I would definitely go to the Eisenhower farm and take in all the tours possible. We spent 2 days doing al these activities.
I grew up in that area and spent many days in and around Gettysburg. My boyhood home was along the Appalachian Trail less than a mile from Caledonia State Park.
Caledonia is going to be very peaceful and quiet in October. You're likely to have morning frost late in the month.
But check the camping facilities at Caledonia. There are multiple campgrounds, some of which may be closed at that time of year. Unless they've changed things a lot (and it has been a while) facilities at the Caledonia campgrounds range from dry tent sites at the low end to 30-amp electric only at the high end. No on-site water or sewer hookups. It's about a 20-minute drive to Gettysburg.
As for the battlefield itself, for a non-history buff I agree that a (full) day is probably enough. Don't just drive around with a map. Get either an audio tour or hire a licensed guide. The guides (They used to ride in your car with you. Not sure if that's still the case) are not expensive and are definitely worth it. They really bring the events to life.
On a second day, consider spending a couple of hours at the Eisenhower Farm, located by the western edge of the battlefield along Seminary Ridge Road.
You're smart to go to Gettysburg in the Fall. Leaves will be turning color and traffic in town will be light, especially on weekdays. But it's a cramped old town with narrow streets most pleasantly negotiated in a car.
Local apples will be in season. Take a loop that runs Northwest from Gettysburg on PA 34 to Biglerville, then Southwest on PA 234 taking a right in Arendtsville to stay with 234 to US 30 and back to Gettysburg. Between Biglerville and US 30, Be sure to stop and get some fresh fruit and maybe a Shoo-fly pie from the farm stands along the road.
For some great views and a pretty country church, about 2.5 miles North of US 30 on 234 turn onto Church Road and drive up the hill to St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church. My parents are buried there. Look for the headstone with two hearts. You can drive back down to 234 or follow Church Road to US 30.
If you're a golfer, play a round at the public, state-owned course in Caledonia. The clubhouse is in the campground South of the US30-PA 233 intersection. The fairways are hilly and some are fairly narrow.
Or take a hike along the Appalachian Trail, which passes right through Caledonia Park. Going South from the park is an easy walk. Going North heads straight up the side of a ridge. The park also has several other walking local trails. I recommend Ramble Trail for an easy walk in the woods.
You've picked a great place for a low-key Autumn visit. Enjoy!
Get the book Killer Angels and read it before you go.  I wish they taught history like that's written.
magothy1 said:
Get the book Killer Angels and read it before you go.  I wish they taught history like that's written.

I agree, a good an enjoyable book from which the movie Gettysburg is based on.
Three days is good.  Take the driving tour, there are 16 stops on the tour and we did 8 on day one and 8 on day 2.  It is well worth the time.  I can recommend the Gettysburg/Battlefield KOA.  Beautiful campground with lots of shade.  My daughter, son in law and granddaughter joined us and it was a great time.  Even my daughter was impressed with the campground and that's saying something.

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