Colonial National Historical Park contains several sites of importance in the history of America—Historic Jamestowne, the Cape Henry Memorial, Yorktown Battlefield, and the Colonial Parkway.
Not to be confused with Jamestown Settlement, which is not part of the national park, Historic Jamestowne (with an “e”) is the site of the first successful English colonization of America in 1607. Here is where the story of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas actually happened, and where the roots of American government first took hold. Extensive archaeological excavations over the years have discovered the site of the original fort. Visitors can view the settlement on guided tours or hike or bike around the island. Be sure to check out the Glasshouse, where you can view artisans creating hand-blown bottles, paperweights, and other items—just as they did in 1608.
Yorktown Battlefield was the site of the Colonial victory over British forces in the American Revolution. Take a self-guided auto tour or ranger-led tour to view some of the original earthworks constructed by George Washington’s troops, Redoubts 9 and 10 where Colonial troops surprised the British in a night attack, as well as Surrender Field, where over 8,000 British troops laid down their arms. Be sure to check out the Visitor Center’s excellent exhibits, which include General Washington’s campaign tent.
Historic Jamestowne and Yorktown Battlefield are linked together by the 23-mile long scenic Colonial Parkway. Designed in 1931 the Parkway connects "Virginia's historic triangle"—Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg. The Parkway was designed specifically to limit the impacts of a roadway on the environment, wildlife, and historical context of the surrounding landscape.
A small park at quarter acre of ground, the Cape Henry Memorial approximately marks the first landing of the Jamestown settlers in Virginia. The site includes a granite cross and a walkway to the Atlantic Ocean.
—Tracey McIntire, NPCA
If You Go
The Cape Henry Memorial is located on Fort Story Military Reservation, so it may be closed during periods of heightened National Security. Visitors should be prepared to stop at the entrance gate and to show identification for person in the vehicle over 16. All vehicles are subject to inspection.
This park, and nearby Jamestown National Historic Site, is currently threatened by the proposed James River Transmission line, a massive power line that would slice through one of our nation’s most historically significant places. Read More.