The Parks Podcast
The Parks Podcast
Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park (Episode 6)

Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park

Episode 6

Fredericksburg Battlefield

Episode Guest

Mary O’Neil, Park Ranger
Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park

Park Stats

Location: Spotsylvania County & Fredericksburg, Virginia

Park established: February 14, 1927

President in office: Calvin Coolidge

Park size: 8374 acres

Visitors: 756,296 in 2022

Fun fact:

    • 17 hiking trails (more than 35 miles of trails)
    • 4 Battles
      • Fredericksburg (December 11-15, 1862)
      • Chancellorsville (May 1-3, 1863
      • The Wilderness (May 5-7, 1864
      • Spotsylvania Courthouse (May 8-21, 1864)
    • The park contains Fredericksburg National Cemetery, mansions turned hospitals, homes, battlefields and so much more
    • Longest name (75 letters) of any unit in the national park system

Speed Round

What is your earliest park memory?

My earliest park memory is when I was in kindergarten. I lived in Philadelphia and we took a field trip to the Liberty Bell.

What made you love the parks?

I love the natural spaces and I love history and the fact that we do both of those things, it’s just very special to me.

What is your favorite thing about Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park?

My favorite thing would have to be taking a walk on the battlefield towards sunset. It’s nice and quiet and just being able to absorb the history.

What park have you yet to visit but is on your bucket list and why?

I haven’t been to the Northwest corridor of the country. So anywhere up there, like Olympic, or some of the historical sites. I really haven’t explored that part of the country.

What are three must-haves you pack for a park visit?

I’m going to say water and food because those are critical. And for me, I like to bring my sketchbook. I like to draw and I always like to have my sketchbook with me, just in case.

What is your favorite campfire activity?


Tent, camper, or cabin?


Hiking with or without trekking poles?

I usually go without, but I should probably use them.

And what is your favorite trail snack?

Little oranges

What is the best animal sighting that you’ve had?

The one I was probably most excited about was when I was at Joshua Tree. I had been looking out for a desert tortoise for the longest time. When I finally found one, I was just over the moon.

What is your favorite sound in the parks?

I like hearing, especially in the evenings, the influx of animal noises. I think frogs are really cool. I like hearing fronts. I think they’re fun.