National Park Getaway: Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park
October 29, 2009
Filed under National Parks
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, Vermont’s only national park, offers year-round opportunities to explore history, ecology, and art in the scenic foothills of the Green Mountains. This is a park that tells a local and national story of conservation history, evolution of land stewardship, and emergence of a conservation ethic. Once the site of depleted farmlands and cutover forests, the hills and countryside of this region inspired George Perkins Marsh to advocate for a more harmonious relationship between human communities and their environment in his book Man and Nature (published in 1864). Marsh’s work spoke to Frederick Billings, a lawyer-turned-dairy-farmer who established a professionally managed forest on land that he bought from the Marsh family. Billings’ wife and his descendants, including his granddaughter Mary French Rockefeller and her husband, conservationist Laurance S. Rockefeller, continued progressive agriculture and forestry practices on this land for over 130 years. Walking on the carriage roads that Billings had built in order to promote the forest as a place of recreation and learning, visitors can muse and relax among stately maples, ancient hemlocks, and picturesque Norway spruce. The park’s roads and trails also afford hiking opportunities for all ages and abilities – from easy ambles to day-long treks – past pastures and hayfields, lush forests, and breathtaking vistas. Visitors interested in history and art can find much to explore at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller mansion and designed gardens. The mansion houses one of the finest collections of Hudson River School landscape paintings from artists that helped give rise to the modern American environmental movement and sparked the creation of the National Park System.
Come discover the natural, cultural, and aesthetic beauty at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP anytime of year. From May to the end of October, the park offers guided tours of the mansion and grounds, the award-winning film and exhibit “Stewardship – People Taking Care of Places” at Carriage Barn Visitor Center, and special events such as open studios with Artists in Residence and the annual Forest Festival weekend in September. During the winter, visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on over 30 miles of carriage roads and trails. From the National Park Service