Valley Forge National Historic Park

A $20 limit on spending at Valley Forge National Historic Park is about $20 too high.

The sprawling park, only six miles from Eastern, features a 10-mile historic tour of George Washington’s famous 1777-1778 winter headquarters, and is available to the public for free.

It is hard to think of any other place that is so cheap and that offers so much. The park contains beautiful views of the nearby town, open fields and thick stands of trees. The view, along with the biking trails, make it the perfect place to walk, bike, picnic or drive.

We chose to take the ranger-guided tour, also free. The walk covered only a quarter mile of the park, but the ranger with whom we walked covered the entire history of Valley Forge. The tour concluded at Muhlenberg with replicas of the soldiers’ huts and a conversational presentation by a ranger in period dress.

This presentation, together with the free movie shown every half hour back at the Welcome Center, presents all the facts about the encampment at Valley Forge.

Most interesting are the little-known details, such as the fact that future chief justice John Marshall was a soldier there and that most soldiers who died there did so from disease, not freezing or starvation.

The total cost for this educational experience, plus our travel was the $2 we each paid for gas. For those who want to spend money, bikes are available for rent and a trolley tour is availabe twice a day. For the rest, it is easy to get Valley Forge’s legacy and a fun outdoor experience for nothing.

Valley Forge at a glance:There are 10 stops along the 10-mile route. These sites feature presentations and activities on different days of the week, and all except Washington’s headquarters are free. Here is a breakdown of other activities and prices:

Admission: freeParking: freePicnicking: freeRanger-led tour: freeGuided tour by cell phone: free Movie on history of Valley Forge: freeTrolley ride: $7 for students (covers Washington’s headquarters)Washington’s headquarters: $3CD with guided tour: $12 Tape with guided tour: $10Bike renting: $10/hr. $15/2hr. $25/4 hr.Canteen Snack Bar: varies from $.50 for fruit to $2.75 for cheeseburger bites.

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