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Along with natural attractions and a notable role in history of the rail industry, Chattanooga is very well-known for being a Civil War battleground. The Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park is the oldest and largest of America's Civil War parks, encompassing land north and south of the Tennessee-Georgia border. During the Civil War, Chattanooga was considered to be an attractive area for its railroads and location, earning the title of the "Gateway of the Deep South." In 1843, battles broke out in various areas in Chickamauga and Chattanooga, with both the Union and Confederate troops experiencing victories and losses.
The park is headquartered at Chickamauga, Georgia, which is about 9 miles south of downtown Chattanooga. Visitors looking to stay in Tennessee are still within reach of many important war sites, including Orchard's Knob, the Chattanooga National Cemetery, Signal Point, Lookout Mountain and various areas along the Missionary Ridge. Those with a tight itinerary (and who already have plans to visit either Ruby Falls, Rock City or ride the Incline Railway), should visit Point Park, the site of the "Battle Above the Clouds" and the Battles for Chattanooga Museum at Lookout Mountain.
Recent travelers were impressed by the preservation of the national park and appreciated the amount of information available to visitors, both laid throughout the park and within the visitors center. Some travelers recommended taking a tour with a park ranger, as their narration made the sites come alive. National park rangers offer a variety of free guided tours at Lookout Mountain battle sites and Chickamauga during the summer. The Chickamauga section of the park is free, but there is a $5 fee to enter Point Park for adults, while children younger than 16 can visit for free. The Chickamauga & Chattanooga national parks open at 6 a.m. and close at sunset year-round. The Chickamauga Battleground visitors center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the Lookout Mountain Battleground visitors center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round. For more information, visit the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park website.