Colonial National Park - Yorktown
George Washington
One of the least realized facts in American history is the time it took for the Continental Army of George Washington (photo above) to win the War of Revolution.  When the final battle of Yorktown had been won, it had been over six years since the Declaration of Independence had been shouted from the streets in Philadelphia to the new nation.  Even after Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown on October 19, 1781, (lithograph above right of the Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown by James Baillie, circa 1845. Source: NARA.) the days of forming the new government, of drafting the Constitution, and installing its first president, would take nine years more.  It was hard work forming a nation, fifteen years of hard work, one based on equality, and democracy, and freedom.  What the men of the Revolutionary Army with General George Washington completed at the Battle of Yorktown was an experiment of historic proportions, which continues today.

The Revolutionary War took place among a small group of soldiers, approximately 15,000 on each side.  It was contested along the eastern seaboard, from Bunker Hill to Saratoga to Montreal.  There were battles across the state of New Jersey at Princeton and Trenton, and campaign in the south and West from Charleston to Vincennes.  It would all culminate at Yorktown, five years after the first shot had been fired on April 19, 1775.  Washington had been given the French troops under Lt. General Jean de Rochambeau and the combined forces headed into Virginia to confront Cornwallis at his base of operations at Yorktown.  By September 28, 1781, Washington's force of 17,000 men had surrounded the city.  His attack began on October 6, and the siege preventing food and supplies went into effect.  Without a route for escape, Cornwallis had no other recourse than to surrender his 8,000 men to Washington.  This act caused the British Prime Minister, Lord North, to resign his position, and the new government to begin negotiations for peace.

Historic Dates of the Revolutionary War and U.S. Independence

April 19, 1775 - Revolutionary War begins when Colonial troops clash with British soldiers at Lexington, Massachusetts.
July 4, 1776 - The Declaration of Independence is pronounced in the streets of Philadelphia
December 19, 1777 - Washington and his soldiers make winter quarters at Valley Forge.
February 6, 1778 - The French form an alliance with the United States.
October 7, 1780 - American frontier fighters storm the British at Kings Mountain.
October 19, 1781 - British forces under Lord Cornwallis surrender to Washington’s American forces and their French allies at Yorktown, Virginia.
January 14, 1784 - Congress ratifies the final peace treaty between Great Britain and the United States, ending the conflict that would give America its freedom.
May 25, 1787 - With George Washington presiding, the Constitutional conventions opens in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.
June 21, 1788 - Ratification by New Hampshire of the United States Constitution, the 9th state to do so, indicates adoption of the document by the United States.
April 30, 1789 - The 1st President, George Washington, is inaugurated in New York City.  He had been chosen president by all voting electors (there was no direct presidential election) with John Adams elected Vice President.
January 8, 1790 - The first State of the Union address is given by president George Washington.

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Things You Should Not Miss

1. Both visitors centers at Yorktown and Jamestown have films that will orient you with the sites.  Take the time to view them and get your first impression of the history that was made here.

2. Visit the indoor galleries of the Yorktown Victory Center and the effect the war had on ten men and women who witnessed the Revolution.

What is There Now

Colonial National Historical Park
- Visit Old Towne, New Towne, the Glasshouse, plus the Jamestown Island Drive.

- Learn more about the siege of Yorktown at the Visitor Center with films and exhibits, plus Ranger Guided Walks.

Cape Henry Memorial
- This small unit, only one quarter of an acre, marks the approximate site where the Jamestown settlers first landed.

Colonial Parkway
- If you're traveling between sections of the park, or over to Colonial Williamsburg, you can't avoid the parkway.  This twenty-four mile road, completed in 1957, takes you between the York and James River, through pine and hardwood forests, as well as estuaries.  It is free from modern commerical development.

Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center - Free Shipping on ALL orders

Jamestown Links

Colonial National Historical Park
Yorktown Section
Jamestown Section
Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center

Nearby Attractions

Colonial Williamsburg
Virginia Tourism

Yorktown Then and Now

Battle of Yorktown

Yorktown Then

The Capture of Yorktown - The lithograph above shows the violent struggle between British and American troops during the siege of Yorktown.  Lithograph from the George Washington Bicentennial Commission, circa 1924.  Courtesy NARA.

Yorktown Now

Reenactors at Colonial National Historic Park, Virginia
Colonial National Historical Park - This park contains over 8,000 acres on a variety of historic sites from Yorktown to Jamestown.  The park has four distinct units; Cape Henry Memorial, Historic Jamestowne, Yorktown, and the twenty-four mile Colonial Parkway that connects them, as well as Williamsburg.  This national park is considered to be the Beginning (Jamestown) and End (Yorktown) of English Colonial America.

Yorktown Victory Center
- This Virginia state run attraction next door to Colonial National Historical Park contains a recreation of a Continental Army encampment, films, and indoor exhibition galleries.

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Visitor Statistics

Colonial National
Historical Park
3,168,731 visitors
#22 Most Visited National Park Unit

Park Size

Colonial National
Historical Park
8,605 acres (Federal)
8,676 acres (Total)

Source: NPS, 2013 Visitor Statistics; Visitor Rank among 369 units.

Colonial National Historic Park Entrance Fees

$14 Adult - 7 days
Free Child (15 and under)

Includes Yorktown and Jamestowne Settlement Adjacent to the Park

Yorktown Battlefield
$7 Adult

Yorktown Victory Center
(Adjacent to the Park)
$9.75 Adult
$5.50 Age 6-12

Combination Tickets are available for the Victory Center, Colonial National Park, and Jamestown Settlement

Fees subject to change without notice.

Yorktown Weather

Highs range from 85 to 90 degrees with high humidity.  Insect repellant recommended.

Average temps range near 50 degrees with winds that can produce lower wind chill temperatures.


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