The Gettysburg Battlefield is a hallowed site everyone should visit at least once, but what’s the best time to visit Gettysburg? The truth is that there are pros and cons to every season, so it’s important to know all the facts and make an informed decision. Here’s a rundown of all the most essential factors to consider when deciding the best season for your Gettysburg visit:
Gettysburg in the Spring
Spring in Gettysburg is short but beautiful. Flowers are in bloom, the grass is greener than at any other time of the year, and the weather is neither too hot nor too cold. This is also the time of year when farmer’s markets in the town of Gettysburg are full to bursting! If you’re planning on doing a lot of walking around or want to explore the town just as much as the battlefield, spring is the season for you.
Gettysburg in the Summer
As you might guess, summer is by far the most popular season during which to visit the Gettysburg Battlefield. After all, it was the peak of summer when the battle actually took place over 150 years ago, on the first three days of July, 1863. If you want the most authentic battlefield experience, you should definitely plan your trip between May and September. This is when the landscape and weather will be most similar to the conditions experienced by the Union and Confederate forces during the battle. To add to the authenticity, you can pick up an audio tour guide to bring the battlefield to life for you!
Something else to keep in mind are the Gettysburg Battlefield hours. Although the park is open every day of the year, the battlefield hours vary from season to season. The Gettysburg Battlefield hours generally span from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. This means that the park is open the longest in the middle of the summer, when daylight stretches all the way to 9pm. So if you’re planning to spend an extra long day on the battlefield, summer is probably the right season to visit Gettysburg.
Of course, there are a few downsides to visiting the Gettysburg Battlefield during its peak season. The most obvious one is crowds. Gettysburg National Military Park sees over a million visitors in an average year, and the majority of those visitors show up in the summer months. That means dealing with lots of other people, including the dreaded tour buses and their crowds. It’s not all bad news, though: You can avoid a lot of the crowds by using a self-guided tour of Gettysburg to break away from the pack.
Gettysburg in the Fall
Many locals swear that autumn is the best time to visit Gettysburg. The heat and humidity retreat, the crowds die down, and the leaves change to brilliant reds and golds. All of this makes for an immensely enjoyable experience driving or strolling through the battlefield’s most iconic sites, all of which can be found with a self-guided tour like this one. If you’re okay with visiting a battlefield that doesn’t look exactly like it did in July of 1863, a fall trip to Gettysburg should definitely be near the top of your list.
The only real downside to visiting in the fall is that it can be hard to squeeze into your schedule. If you can manage a weekend trip, however, I’d highly recommend it.
Gettysburg in the Winter
If you’re looking for the quietest time to visit Gettysburg, winter is what you’ll want. The battlefield pretty much empties out during these colder months, giving you all the time and space you need to explore the historic sites and pay your respects to the soldiers who gave their lives on this hallowed ground. You won’t find as many tours of the park during the winter, but as long as you’ve got a self-guided tour that’s usable year-round, that’s not a problem at all!
Of course, with such limited daylight, the Gettysburg Battlefield hours shrink considerably during the winter, down to about 6am to 7pm–but that should still be plenty of time to see everything the battlefield has to offer!