110 miles N of Atlanta
The country's oldest (1890) and biggest military park stretches across an 8,000-acre site 9 miles south of Chattanooga on U.S. 27. Ranking along with Gettysburg and Vicksburg, the national historic shrine consists of four different parks: Chickamauga, Point Park, Missionary Ridge, and Orchard Knob.
On September 19 and 20, 1863, a Confederate force of 66,000 men met by accident a Union force of 58,000. The 2-day battle left 36,000 casualties. It marked the greatest success of Confederate armies in the west, although the advantage was not seized.
Some 80 miles of hiking trails cut through the valley and 1,500 historical markers, tablets, artillery pieces, and monuments mark the movement of troops. At the visitor center (tel. 706/866-9241), on the northern entrance to the battlefield, self-guided audiotape tours are available. A slide show recounts the battle hour by hour. The center is open daily from 8am to 5:45pm Memorial Day to Labor Day, closing at 4:45pm for the rest of the year. Admission is free to the park. To reach the park, exit I-75 at Ga. 2 and go west for 6 miles to Hwy. 27 (exit 141), at which point you head south to the park, a mile from the town of Fort Oglethorpe.