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Visit Booker T Washington National Monument 

One of the most influential African Americans of his era, Booker T. Washington has his birthplace recognized as a National Monument. We visited the site during a vacation to the nearby Smith Mountain Lake and learned a lot about this great man. Follow us as we dive into our experience, and I am sure you will agree to visit Booker T Washington National Monument was well.

Table of Contents

Park Details

  • Operating Hours: Grounds:  9am – 5pm Visitor Center: 10am – 4:00pm Wed – Sun
  • Visitor Center Location:  12130 Booker T. Washington Highway, Hardy, VA 24101
  • Entrance Fees:   No Entrance fee is required
  • Activities: Hiking, Tour Historic Buildings and Farm, Picnic 

Where is Booker T Washington National Monument located

Nestled in the Piedmont of Virginia, Booker T Washington National Monument is situated close to Smith Mountain Lake state park, just southeast of Roanoke Virginia.

map of Booker T. Washington National Monument Location next to Roanoke and Smith Mountain Lake.

This National Monument has a Visitor Center that provides a video, information about the site and the man, as well as exhibits to gain a better perspective of the period in which he lived. 

We were ready to grab some National Park stamps and had our small blue passport book along, but unfortunately, we were unable to visit inside the Visitor Center due to the COVID pandemic restrictions. We will look forward to stopping by again the next time are in the area. 

A super nice Park Ranger at the site did see that we came to visit and brought out the stamp pad and stamp. They even stamped our National Park Cancellation Passport book for us. If you have not considered it already, collecting National Park Cancellation stamps are a great way to memorialize your visit.

Visit Booker T Washington National Monument and view of the external sign and bust of a statue

We were able to walk around the farm where Booker T. Washington was born into slavery and lived with his mother and siblings. It is a bit haunting that this simple place could play a part in such a horrible time. The site does a great job of illustrating this painful part of our national history. Not only the depiction of enslaved people, but also the impact of the Civil War, and complications that came about after emancipation.

Overall, the illustration of this accomplished man, rising up from a boyhood in bondage to be an author, orator, educator and consultant to Presidents is impressive.

That said my 4-year-old daughter at the time seemed to be more enamored with the chickens at the farm than trying to learn about American History. To be fair, they were cute chickens.

Fun Facts about Booker T. Washington

  1. Founder of Tuskegee Institue in 1881 and became a leader in Education of African Americans.
  2. Wrote a Bestseller, “Up From Slavery”, in 1901
  3. Born a Slave, on April 5, 1856 in Virginia
  4. Secretly Financed Civil Rights cases that advocated against segregation and disenfranshisement.
  5. He was the first African American to be invited to a meal at the White House by a President (President Theodore Roosevelt.) This was very controversial at the time. While there were many meetings with African Americans at the White House before, ‘Dining’ with an African American implied social equality. Shocking in its day, this caused a huge uproar especially in the Southern states for crossing this social boundary.


If time allows, there is a nice hiking trail in and around the park that are available.

Jack-o-lantern Branch Trail

A fairly easy trail that is good for birding, running, hiking or just to get out and about. The Jack-o-Lantern Trail takes you away from the farm and through a forested area.

  • Length: 2.0 Miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: 209ft
  • Type: Loop Trail

Where to Stay near the Park

Smith Mountain Lake State Park

For our getaway we rented a cabin at Smith Mountain Lake State Park, and it was everything that we needed. We had the entire cabin to ourselves, which had a kitchen and two bedrooms, along with a firepit and our own view and access to the lake. The cabin itself was awesome, big enough for a family of four and being right along the lake made morning kayaking easy. 

view from Smith Mountain Lake on a kayak
Kayaking around Smith Mountain Lake

Things to Do Near Booker T Washington National Monument

Virginia Trail Quest

With Smith Mountain Lake State Park so close you should really look at the Virginia Trail Quest program. Virginia has over 40 state parks and many with cultural and historic significance and the Trail Quest program helps to promote all these wonderful sites.

If you are going to even go to a few more, you have to check out it out! You can get some cool free pins as you visit more Virginia Parks.

Virginia state park lapel pin with compas and number 5 in the center

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