Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park to Charge Entrance Fee to Visitors — and My Trip Report
Boasting greater than 2.5 million visitors in 2018 alone on 2,965 acres, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Georgia is one of the legendary locations where part of the Atlanta Campaign of the Civil War occurred from Sunday, June 19, 1864 through Saturday, July 2, 1864 — and it has been a free and natural respite from everyday life for visitors in the northern Atlanta metropolitan area since its inception in 1935…
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park to Charge Entrance Fee to Visitors — and My Trip Report
…but that tradition of greater than 84 years ends on Wednesday, November 13, 2019, when a cashless vehicle general admission entrance fee of five dollars per day and $40.00 per year will be implemented at all ten parking lots. Only credit cards and debit cards will be accepted for payment. Holders of Interagency Access Passes and Annual Military Passes will continue to have free access to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.
In addition to a public restroom to the south end of the national park and the purchase an additional shuttle bus to transport more visitors up the mountain, funds which are generated through the implementation of the cashless vehicle general admission entrance fee program may also be used to address deferred maintenance and improve visitor services — such as stabilization and repair of trails and earthwork, visitor safety, restoration of cannons at outdoor cannon displays, youth programs, historical exhibits, and internship opportunities.
Prior to Wednesday, November 13, 2019, the national park had no means of generating revenue — other than through sales from the gift shop…
…as well as funds from generous donors.
America the Beautiful Interagency Passes will be available for purchase, and are valid as an entrance pass. Passes may be purchased here effective as of Friday, November 8, 2019 and at the visitor center of the park effective as of Wednesday, November 13, 2019. If you would like information on purchasing a pass for a future visit to a fee park, please visit the official Internet web site of the National Park Foundation.
Officials stress that this is an entrance fee, not a parking fee, as parking is not guaranteed. Finding a parking space prior to purchasing your pass is strongly recommended during busy times or peak periods.
Compliance of the entrance pass program will be checked by members of the staff of the national park at all of its parking lots at various times throughout the day and evening — including checking for physical passes on the dashboards of cars; or for valid vehicle license plate number registrations for visitors who purchased their passes via the Internet.
Entrance to the national park will still be free of charge for anyone who visits it without a vehicle.
About Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Three long years have passed since the firing upon Fort Sumter in South Carolina — which resulted in the secession of several Southern states from the Union — and both sides were growing tired of the war. General Ulysses S. Grant — who was the newly appointed Supreme Commander of the Union Army — developed a plan that he hoped would bring a successful end to the Civil War. Part of that plan was to send the army of General William Tecumseh Sherman into Georgia to destroy the Confederate Army of General Joseph Johnston, as well as his supply operations.
The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain — during which greater than 5,350 soldiers lost their lives — occurred on Monday, June 27, 1864. Additional information pertaining to that battle is included in this document.
Also, the park — which preserves some of the battlefields of the Atlanta Campaign of the Civil War — is not just about Kennesaw Mountain and Little Kennesaw Mountain, which are adjacent to each other. Miles of trails connect the visitor center to such locations as Kolb Farm, Cheatham Hill, Pigeon Hill, and Illinois Monument. The maps — which are available here — allow you to view an abundant amount of information about Kennesaw Mountain and its history. Not only can you view the hiking trails, streams, and horse trails — but also plenty of information pertaining to the Civil War battle itself including where individual conflicts took place, Confederate and Federal unit positions, and the positions of artillery and fortifications used during the battle.
Shuttle Bus Service to the Top of the Mountain
The road up to the top of Kennesaw Mountain is closed every weekend and on holidays; but a shuttle bus — which is basically a school bus — is offered which provides transportation to the top of the mountain.
The road is currently open to all private vehicles during hours of operation Mondays through Fridays, but that is expected to end sometime in the future. Members of the staff of the national park eventually plan to expand the existing shuttle service to operate seven days per week and permanently close the mountain road to private vehicles.
There is no charge for the shuttle service for visitors who have an Interagency pass, Interagency Senior pass, or an Interagency Access pass.
The cost to ride the shuttle bus is as follows:
- $3.00 for adults 12 years of age and older
- $1.50 for children between the ages of six and eleven years old
- Free for children five years of age and younger
The Visitor Center
The visitor center was extensively renovated in recent years.
The main desk, gift shop and entrance to the museum can be seen upon passing through the entrance to the visitor center. Washrooms are to the left as indicated on the sign on the wall.
Friendly park rangers will greet you as you enter the main area of the visitor center of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.
Just beyond the main area of the visitor center is the gift shop, where you can purchase books, replicas of artifacts of the Civil Way, and even candy, snacks and drinks. To the right of the gift shop is the entrance to the auditorium; and to the left of the gift shop is the entrance to the museum. Both are accessible to visitors every day at no additional charge during the times when the visitor center is open.
Plenty of displays contain detailed information, facts and illustrations pertaining to the Atlanta Campaign and to the Civil War in general.
A frock coat from an officer of the Confederate Army is one of many real artifacts which are preserved from the Civil War in the museum.
Other artifacts which are on display include items which soldiers used in everyday life.
Some of the artifacts on display include sabers, guns and rifles…
…as well as the shells from the ammunition used in those guns and rifles.
Concoctions laced with opium, mercury and arsenic — as well as whiskey — were prescribed as forms of medicine during the Civil War; and as the placard indicates, these “medications” caused more harm than good.
Not all original artifacts are sealed behind a pane of glass and deemed untouchable for preservation purposes. For example, you are encouraged to touch a real railroad spike which is similar to those used on the Western & Atlantic Railroad during the nineteenth century.
A film called Kennesaw: One Last Mountain is presented hourly in the auditorium, with each show beginning at 15 minutes after every hour from 9:15 in the morning through 4:15 in the afternoon every day. The duration of the film is 38 minutes.
Note that due to the nature and content of the movie, some scenes may be inappropriate for young viewers.
The visitor center ironically evokes a quaint moment of playing checkers at the time of one of the most brutal wars in American history. Visitors are welcome to sit for a quiet respite while overlooking one of the battlefields.
To the Top of Kennesaw Mountain and Back
I have walked most of the miles of trails of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park multiple times; and I even visited the national park on the morning of Tuesday, September 13, 2016 to see the 2,977 American flags waving in the wind — one for each victim of the attacks which occurred on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
I recently shot this raw unedited video documenting what could be my last time riding up to the top of Kennesaw Mountain free of charge and without using a shuttle bus.
The drive from the visitor center to the end of the road is approximately 1.4 miles.
A small parking lot awaits at the end of the road.
Visitors are treated to sweeping views of the greater Atlanta metropolitan area — including nearby Marietta and Kennesaw — and on a clear day, one can even see Stone Mountain in the distance off to the east. On the right in the photograph shown above is Mercedes-Benz Stadium where the Atlanta Falcons team of the National Football League plays their home games.
Access to an overlook platform and the trail to the top of the mountain — which is only one tenth of a mile away and is easily accessible — is available via a staircase from the parking lot…
…but the platform does not necessarily offer better views than the edge of the parking lot below.
The trail to the top of the mountain is paved…
…and lined with cannons.
This marker is officially located at the top of Kennesaw Mountain.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is located slightly greater than 23 miles northwest of Atlanta and is open to visitors from dawn to dusk.
The Visitor Center is open from 9:00 in the morning through 5:00 in the afternoon, seven days per week; and the park itself is open at 6:30 in the morning through 8:30 in the evening Eastern Daylight Time from March through November; and through 6:30 in the evening Eastern Standard Time all other times.
The park is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
Admission is free for all visitors until Wednesday, November 13, 2019, when a cashless vehicle general admission entrance fee of five dollars per day and $40.00 per year will be implemented at all ten parking lots.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
900 Kennesaw Mountain Drive
Kennesaw, Georgia 30152
All photographs and video ©2019 by Brian Cohen.