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Antietam National Battlefield Guide — Visitor Center, Tours & More

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

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Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Antietam National Battlefield protects a historic battlefield where 23,000 soldiers lost their lives, were wounded, or went missing after 12 hours of combat in September 1862. The battle in Antietam ended the first invasion of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia into the north and led to Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Approximately 300,000 visitors tour this historic battlefield each year to learn about “the bloodiest day in American history” and how it gave hope for freedom. 

How To Get to Antietam National Battlefield

Where Is Antietam National Battlefield?

Antietam National Battlefield stretches over 3,000 acres of land in the small town of Sharpsburg, Maryland, about 65 miles from Baltimore and about 70 miles from Washington, D.C.

Antietam National Battlefield Opening Hours and Seasons

Antietam National Battlefield is open year-round during daylight hours. The park is closed for several federal holidays, including Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day, and New Year’s Day. The visitor center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Nearest Airports to Antietam National Battlefield

Visitors can choose several airport options if they prefer flying to Antietam National Battlefield. Whether you prefer a direct flight to a big city or connecting flights to smaller options, there are several amazing options. Let’s take a look at the 2 closest airport options. 

Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR)

Hagerstown Regional Airport is the closest airport for those flying into the area. This airport is a mere 17 miles from the park. 

Allegiant Airlines exclusively services this airport and offers nonstop service to Orlando and Sanford, Florida, and seasonal service to Clearwater, Myrtle Beach, and St. Petersburg.

Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)

The closest major airport to Antietam National Battlefield is Washington Dulles International Airport. This airport is approximately 40 miles from the park.

IAD provides nonstop flights to 70+ domestic destinations and 60+ international destinations. Airlines serving this airport include Air Canada, Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta, United, and Virgin Atlantic.

Driving to Antietam National Battlefield

There are several routes for those driving; it just depends on the direction you are coming from. Those traveling east on Interstate 70 will take exit 29A to Route 65 South. Visitors from I-70 West will take exit 29, followed by Route 65 South. Visitors from north or south on I-81 will take exit 1 to Route 68. The park is located at 5831 Dunker Church Road in Sharpsburg, Maryland. 

Taking the Train to Antietam National Battlefield

There is no direct train service. The best option for visitors who want to arrive by train is to take Amtrak to Harpers Ferry and then arrange a ride service to the park. From the station, it is about a 30-minute drive to the park’s entrance. 

Getting Around Antietam National Battlefield

The best way to get around Antietam National Battlefield is by driving. Some visitors choose to walk or ride bicycles throughout the battlefield. The National Park Service offers a variety of maps online to help you plan your park adventures. 

What To See and Do in Antietam National Battlefield

There’s so much to see and do in Antietam National Battlefield. This park is filled with a rich history and incredible stories of the past. From excellent hiking trails and museums to self-guided tours and historic landmarks, history buffs and nature enthusiasts are in for a treat when visiting this Maryland park. Let’s explore the top things to see and do. 

Hiking the Battlefield

Antietam Remembered Trail
Image Credit: NPS

The best way to understand and experience this national battlefield is by hiking the trails that wind through it. These trails are gently rolling and mostly even, so hiking is enjoyable.

There are 10 hiking trails ranging from a quarter of a mile to a little under 2 miles. Some trails include Bloody Lane Trail, Cornfield Trail, and Final Attack Trail. Each trail offers visitors a chance to learn more and experience what life was like long ago.

Tourists can walk in the footsteps of the Union soldiers, see the fields where the battles took place, and stand in awe at the historic bridge that was so significant during battle.

Hot Tip:

If you plan to hike the trails at Antietam National Battlefield, download the Battle App provided by The Civil War Trust. This app will help you better understand the Antietam events and offers GPS-enabled guides that can narrate your hikes.

Newcomer House

Newcomer House was a mill property owned and run by Joshua Newcomer in the 1860s. The property featured a mill, a home, and a barn. After the Battle of Antietam, the Federal Army used the Newcomer property to care for wounded soldiers.

Many of the structures from the original Newcomer House are no longer standing. Still, today, the home serves as an exhibit and visitor center for the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area. Visitors can learn from site panels in the house’s rooms and glimpse what life was like in the 1860s. 

Pry House Field Hospital Museum

Pry House Field Hospital Museum
Image Credit: NPS

Pry House Field Hospital Museum is located in the historic Pry House. This historic home once served as a headquarters for Union Commander General George B. McClellan during battle.

This museum provides educational exhibits, including a replica of an operating theater and interpretive panels showcasing how wounded soldiers were cared for and how this impacted the civilians in those days.

There are many artifacts to see and much to learn about at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum. An additional fee of $5 per person is collected at the house entrance. 

Self-Guided Driving Tour

The self-guided driving tour is the best way to explore the Antietam National Battlefield. This road is 8.5 miles long and features 11 stops where visitors can learn about the history of this national battlefield. While most visitors drive this tour, some prefer walking or cycling.

Some of the stops on this tour include Dunker Church, Mumma Farm and Cemetery, and Antietam National Cemetery. This tour takes approximately 3 hours; a CD is available in the bookstore if you prefer an audio narration.

What To See and Do Near Antietam National Battlefield

Antietam National Battlefield is in an excellent location, surrounded by many other national historical and military parks. Learn more about these nearby parks and see if you’d like to add any of them to your itinerary when visiting this historic battlefield. 

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park preserves America’s early transportation history. The C&O Canal operated for almost 100 years and was vital in transporting natural resources such as coal, agricultural products, and lumber.

Today, visitors can tour Paw Paw Tunnel and Fletchers Grove to learn more about the canal’s history. There are also countless opportunities for adventure. Many guests enjoy hiking, fishing, boating, and horseback riding when visiting Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.

Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg Address Memorial
Image Credit: NPS

Gettysburg National Military Park is about an hour from Antietam National Battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This park protects the site of the largest battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere. This historic battle was a major turning point in the Civil War.

Visiting Gettysburg allows tourists to visit historic homes and sites, participate in ranger-led programs, and observe living history programs with reenactors.

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is just 16 miles from Antietam National Battlefield and is a wonderful mix of history and nature. Visitors can learn about the struggle for freedom, education, and civil rights when visiting this park.

With its location in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the rushing water of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers, there’s an adventure all around. 

Best Times To Visit Antietam National Battlefield

A visit to the Antietam National Battlefield is impressive, and you can schedule a trip no matter what time of year. However, some times are better than others to plan a trip to this historic battlefield.

Best Time To Visit Antietam National Battlefield in Winter

The best time to visit Antietam National Battlefield in the winter is in December. Most people wouldn’t think of traveling to this park during the cold winter months, but December has an event that draws people in from all around. The Memorial Illumination is an event that is a wondrous sight to behold, and locals and visitors alike strive to make it to the park for this memorable event.

Best Time To Visit Antietam National Battlefield To Avoid the Crowds

Vacationing without crowds is the best way to experience new places fully. For those who want to visit Antietam National Battlefield and not worry about crowded situations, plan to come in September.

The one exception to the month is in the middle of the month; a recurring event occurs at the Pry House, where there will be more visitors than the rest of the month. Besides this event, September, especially late September, is one of the best times to visit and experience the park with fewer crowds. 

Best Time To Visit Antietam National Battlefield for Fall Foliage

If you love fall and want to see the fall foliage in all its glory, plan to visit Antietam National Battlefield in October. The second and third weeks of October are particularly stunning. Grab a sweater and your comfy clothes to explore this national battlefield with the vibrant bursts of color surrounding you.

Cheapest Time To Visit Antietam National Battlefield

A vacation while saving money may seem like a dream, but it can be a reality with proper planning. If you hope to save money while visiting this national battlefield, plan to visit in the second half of September. Once the schools have returned from summer vacation, the cost of accommodations and flights drastically decreases. A September trip can save you hundreds. 

Annual Events in Antietam National Battlefield

Several events occur annually that visitors and locals participate in each year.

Memorial Illumination

The Memorial Illumination
Image Credit: NPS

Each year in December, the Antietam National Battlefield honors the 23,000 casualties from the Battle of Antietam in 1862 with an event called the Memorial Illumination. This event is a driving tour that takes place once it becomes dark.

Cars can enter the tour from 6 p.m. to midnight, and walking the tour is prohibited. Various monuments and historic sites throughout the park are illuminated with luminaries, creating a somber atmosphere, stunning sights, and time to reflect on this monumental event. 

Memorial Day Commemoration

Each year on Memorial Day, the battlefield has a special celebration to honor the brave soldiers who fought and offered the ultimate sacrifice for their country in the American Civil War. This special event features keynote speakers, music, cannon salutes, ranger-led tours, and American flags placed on each grave in Antietam National Cemetery.

Visiting for the Memorial Day Commemoration is a great way to learn the history of this battlefield and the soldiers who fought for America’s freedom. 

Where To Stay in Antietam National Battlefield

There are several options for places to stay near Antietam National Battlefield. Whether you prefer camping under the stars or staying in a 5-star hotel, you can find the perfect accommodations for a stay in or near the park.

Inside the Park

The only lodging option within Antietam National Battlefield’s boundaries is primitive camping at Rohrbach Campground. This option is only available for scout groups and other organized groups. This campground is typically open from the first day of March until the last weekend of November.

There are 10 sites at Rohrback Campground, each offering a fire ring and picnic tables. If you hope to stay at this campground, it is available on a first-come, first-serve basis, but reservations must be made online in advance. 

Towns Near Antietam National Battlefield

Antietam National Battlefield is surrounded by several notable towns perfect for setting up a base camp during your visit. Whether you want to be close to the park or something a bit further away, you can find exactly what your heart desires near this national battlefield.

Hagerstown, Maryland

Hagerstown is a town approximately 13 miles from the national battlefield. This town makes a wonderful home away from home and has an intriguing history, an incredible arts scene, and plenty of options for accommodations, dining, and entertainment. 

This town has a variety of options for lodging. From contemporary hotels and historic bed and breakfasts to campgrounds and budget-friendly motels, there’s something perfect for every traveler. 

Most dining options are locally owned diners, cafes, and restaurants. Whether you crave fresh seafood from the Chesapeake Bay, a quick deli sandwich, or something exciting from an authentic cultural restaurant, you can rest assured that you will find the solution to your hunger. 

There’s no shortage of excitement and recreation in this lovely town. Guided tours, shopping, historic parks and landmarks, biking, hiking, and visiting the theater are popular activities in this charming city.

Bottom Line:

With such a great location with a rich history and so much to see and do, it’s no wonder why many travelers choose to stay in Hagerstown when visiting Antietam National Battlefield.

Sharpsburg, Maryland

Sharpsburg is a tiny, historic town that’s home to 705 people. This town has a rich history older than the American Civil War. The community works hard to keep the historic spirit alive, making visitors feel like they’re stepping back in time to the 1800s.

This town has several options for lodging, dining, and recreation, making it an ideal place to set up a home base when visiting Antietam National Battlefield. 

The majority of accommodations are beautiful, family-owned inns, but there are also a few budget-friendly motels and small hotels scattered throughout the city. Most visitors stay at one of the local bed and breakfasts for a quiet retreat from the busy daily grind. 

Like the lodging options, the town is filled with various restaurants run by community members. Some dining options include bakeries with freshly made pastries, donuts, and breads, authentic cultural restaurants, and quaint diners and cafes. 

Recreation abounds in this town because of its fascinating history and incredible location. Many visitors will spend a full day exploring Antietam National Historical Park, but several museums, historic buildings, and walking tours are also available. For outdoor adventure, you can spend the day fishing, kayaking, and tubing down Antietam Creek, taking a boat tour down the C&O Canal, or mountain climbing. 

With its proximity and wide array of activities, lodging, and dining opportunities, Sharpsburg is the perfect place to stay when visiting Antietam National Battlefield. 

Where To Eat in Antietam National Battlefield

There aren’t any dining options within the battlefield’s boundaries, but there are plenty of options near the park. From seafood restaurants to authentic Mexican taquerias to mom-and-pop diners, there’s no shortage of outstanding places to eat nearby.

Captain Benders Tavern

Captain Benders Tavern is a well-known restaurant in Sharpsburg, just 1 mile from Antietam National Battlefield. This tavern serves a full menu of classic dishes and an expansive selection of draft beers and signature cocktails. 

Hot wings, tacos, fresh seafood, and juicy burgers are just some of the items you will find on the menu. The restaurant features daily specials that are loved by visitors and locals alike. 

This tavern has delicious meals, great drinks, and fun-themed nights like karaoke night, all-you-can-eat wing night, and Taco Tuesday. Plan to eat at Captain Benders Tavern when visiting the Antietam area for a great meal and an evening of entertainment. 

Maria’s Taqueria

Maria’s Taqueria is in Shepherdstown, Maryland, approximately 4.5 miles from Antietam National Battlefield. This small taco shop provides fresh, authentic, and affordable Mexican cuisine. 

The menu at this restaurant features classic items like burritos, tacos, nachos, and quesadillas. There are even several options for those who have food preferences, such as vegan and vegetarian. Customers rave about the huevos rancheros, chimichangas, and pork belly tacos. Not only are there amazing Mexican dishes, but Maria’s also serves cold beer and delicious desserts.

Bottom Line:

After a day of exploring the Antietam National Battlefield, be sure to stop by Maria’s Taqueria to refuel and reset. Nothing hits the spot like an authentic Mexican meal and a refreshing cold beer.

Antietam National Battlefield Facts

Antietam National Battlefield Visitor Center
Image Credit: Kelsey Graczyk via NPS

1. A New Park Established

Antietam National Battlefield was established on August 30, 1890. It became a part of the National Park Service in 1933. 

2. Antietam Cemetery

There are 130 cemeteries in the National Cemetery System, including Antietam National Cemetery. This cemetery has 4,776 Union remains from the Battle of Antietam. 

3. A Monument-al Park

There are 96 monuments in Antietam. These monuments include regimental monuments, state monuments, and monuments of individuals. 

4. Bloody Lane

Bloody Lane is one of the stops along the self-guided driving tour. This is where Union and Confederate soldiers fought for close to 4 hours over this 1,000-yard-long Sunken Road. By the end of the fighting, there were over 5,500 dead or wounded. From this point on, Sunken Road was known as Bloody Lane. 

5. An Abundance of Animals

A wide variety of animals make their home at Antietam National Battlefield. The most commonly seen animals include woodchucks, white-tailed deer, pileated woodpeckers, owls, red foxes, raccoons, striped skunks, and red-tailed hawks. 

Final Thoughts

With such a rich history and so much to see and do, it’s no wonder why many visitors come to this battlefield yearly. From self-guided tours of historic properties to visiting museums, there’s no shortage of things to learn. Book your trip to Antietam National Battlefield and learn about one of the most influential places in the American Civil War. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to enter Antietam National Battlefield?

All visitors are required to purchase an entrance pass when visiting Antietam National Battlefield. These passes range in price from $10 to $20. Those traveling in a single vehicle can pay $20 per vehicle, while those arriving on foot will individually pay $10. These passes are valid for 7 days.

What is the weather like at Antietam National Battlefield?

The weather varies throughout the year at Antietam National Battlefield. Summers are typically hot and humid, while winters are frigid and snowy. The seasons are distinct in this region of the U.S., and fall and spring are the most comfortable times to enjoy this park.

Is there Wi-Fi available at Antietam National Battlefield?

Public Wi-Fi is not available at Antietam National Battlefield. Expect poor coverage throughout the park.

Can I picnic at Antietam National Battlefield?

Picnicking is permitted in several areas of the park but is prohibited in some places. Visitors cannot picnic in Mumma Cemetery, Antietam National Cemetery, inside the Dunker Church or Observation Area, on Burnside Bridge, or on any monument.

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About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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