Vicksburg military park is inexpensive fun family trip

August 10
Jackson Travel Examiner
Heather Foster

The Vicksburg National Military Park is a national park commemorating the Civil War era siege of Vicksburg and the soldiers that died there. It is one of only a handful of Civil War sites where both the Union and Confederate soldiers are buried together and both sides are equally recognized throughout the park.

When you first arrive at the ranger station there are things to do immediately, which is always a good situation to find yourself in after an hour long drive. There is a movie about the Siege of Vicksburg, a live demonstration of mussle-loaded shot guns by people in period dress, a souvenir shop and information about the park. With all the excitement it is easy to forget that you should pick up a map of the park. Without a map, you might have some navigation difficulties, especially with the current detour.

The park is 26 miles long and is best ventured by vehicle unless you’re a master cyclist or marathon walker/runner. There are plenty of places to get out and stretch your legs or for the kids to get out of the car and run around. My favorite sites and monuments are: The Illinois dome monument, the Cairo Exhibit (sunken iron clad boat with cannons) the Gazebo at the top of the cemetary and the overlook (a bluff that has a splendid view of the Mississippi River).

The entire trip can take a whole day to complete if you get out at each major stop and really take time examine the surroundings and try to understand the significance of the exhibits. There are no restaurants located in the park, so it would be wise to bring your own lunch and plan to eat supper at a local diner. You can find information on local restaurants in the Vicksburg brochure offered at the ranger station located at the park’s entrance.

Another thing that bares mentioning is that there are guided tours of the park, but they are pricey and charge per person. Therefore, this is largely a DIY excursion. You are responsible for finding all the little plaques and reading them or not. I find it more relaxing without reading the plaques, but that’s my personal choice. For $8 per car + gas, its definitely an interesting day trip that’s not far from Jackson.

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