No need for tourists to “skip the trip” during battlefield renovations

“It all comes down to safety and accessibility,” said Gettysburg National Park Communication Specialist Jason Martz, speaking of the major renovations scheduled to start at the popular tourist destination Little Round Top.

“Sometimes areas are loved to death from the sheer amount of people over the years, decade after decade, that push the limit to the resources that are there throughout the years,” he said.

Little Round Top

The goals of the Little Round Top renovation, which will begin sometime after July 5 and last for about 18 months, are to address crowding, accessibility, safety, erosion, and degraded vegetation.

The park service said they would provide a 30-day notice before the closing.

Martz said a major focus is on the small parking area that has become a safety hazard for visitors. Martz said the work will create a safe area for people to unload from tour buses and a general space where cars and people can coexist peacefully.

The renovation will also add crosswalks and ADA accessibility, ensuring that disabled visitors receive a world-class experience when visiting the park. “We are not taking anything away, and we are not adding anything either. We are working on making things safer,” said Martz.

The park is also dealing with the impact the overpopulated, poorly executed walking areas have created. Martz said “social trails” – places where people routinely veer off  maintained walking paths — accrue rainwater and runoff.  “The result is erosion; these social trails are impacting the ruins that exist on the property,” said Martz. “We are working to protect.”

Martz said the renovations will also enhance the visitor learning experience. “We will be adding more interpretive signs and more gathering areas for large groups. We will be giving people a better experience through all these improvements.”

Potential effects on Tourism

Local businesses that rely on tourism are naturally concerned the park closures might negatively impact the tourism experience and reduce visitation.  But while some people might decide to “skip the trip,” local tourism marketing agency Destination Gettysburg Vice President Carl Whitehill said businesses should not be rattled.

“We are all pivoting,” said Whitehill. “Private tour companies are still telling the story. Whether you are on a tour, riding horseback, or with a national park ranger, you will not miss the story.”

Martz reminded visitors that the reconstruction will affect only 50 acres of the more than 6,000-acre battlefield. “You can still see Little Round Top from lots of different angles, and the base of the hill will still be open,” he said.

“There are too many positives of Adams County as a whole and the historic town of Gettysburg to skip the trip,” said Martz.

“We know that the battlefield is Gettysburg’s top attraction, but for years we have encouraged people to spend time in other places like the town, different components of the battlefield, and the local museums,” said Whitehill.

“If you plan on coming to Gettysburg and have been cooped up for the past two years, do not let these renovations deter you. Please come, there will be a lot to see,” said Martz.

Note:  The Devil’s Den area of the park is currently closed for repairs, but expected to reopen this summer.

Curious about when Little Round Top will close? Keep checking the Gettysburg National Military Park website for the most up-to-date information.

Hannah Eastham is a freelance journalist and travel writer. Hannah has a strong background in writing with a degree from university in Marketing and Communications with a focus in journalism, and has held staff positions on various publications before swapping to freelance. Now a full time educator and a part time freelancer, Hannah enjoys practicing what she teaches with keeping her writing relevant and current.

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