ORANGE — James Madison’s Montpelier is planning to open its grounds, gardens and trails to the public Friday, if Gov. Ralph Northam proceeds with the first phase of easing restrictions on public gatherings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Montpelier announced this week that it will open its gates and welcome the public to visit the grounds, including the formal gardens, Madison family and enslaved community cemetery and walking trails across the property’s 2,700 acres.
All indoor spaces will remain closed and no tours will be offered as of yet.
The grounds will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays. Orange County residents will be admitted for free.
All visitors will enter through the front gate and stop at the gatehouse to get on the property. There are three purchase options for non-Orange County residents to access the grounds during the anticipated operating hours: a $10 per car, one-day pass; a $35 per car annual pass for a full year; or the standard $50 annual membership for free year-long access to property, member programs, virtual tours, special events and a discount in the museum shop. Visitors are strongly encouraged to purchase their passes online before visiting.
“We’re delighted to open our gates and welcome our members and the community back onto the grounds,” said Roy Young, the new president and CEO of Montpelier. “We want people to think of Montpelier as a place for recreation, to know that this is a vast space where they can responsibly practice social distancing with enjoyment, and to take advantage of the beautiful historic landscape. Bring your leashed pets, walk our trails in the Landmark and Demonstration forests and visit the gardens. Montpelier is in full bloom and we want to share it with you.”
Montpelier asks that groups be no larger than 10 and that visitors stay 10 feet away from anyone other than those they are not socially distancing from, such as family members. Staff members at the gatehouse selling passes and handing out site maps, as well as other staff on site to assist visitors, will wear masks and gloves. Visitors are encouraged to wear masks; however, it is not required. There will be ample signage to remind guests to socially distance.
As Northam’s office issues further directives for easing restrictions and phasing in the reopening of Virginia, Montpelier anticipates offering outdoor tours and limited access to the visitor center museum shop and restrooms. In the meantime, Montpelier is staying virtually open for business with publicly accessible blog posts, websites, podcasts, online courses, webinars and social media.
For more information or to purchase an entry pass, visit montpelier.org.