Mansion & Grounds

Rolling Hills, Blue Ridge Views, Glorious Gardens, Landmark Forests

Montpelier offers 2,650 acres of rolling hills, spacious horse pastures, and spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Plan to spend some time enjoying the gardens and grounds.


South Yard

Immediately adjacent to the mansion is the quarters for house slaves and other outbuildings. Archaeologists are intensively examining this area and we are rebuilding the structures from the Madison era. Much as during Madison's day, this is a hub of activity with all sorts of things to see and experience!

Mr. Madison's Temple
Just north of the mansion, you can stand in the Temple where James Madison contemplated democracy, and take in the view of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Conscious of both landscape geometry and beauty, the ever-practical Madison situated his Temple over the plantation ice house and within eyesight of the second-story deck of the mansion's north wing. In this way, revelers could view the mountains and the Temple, while making good use of the ice stored beneath it. 

Madison Family Cemetery
Just behind the Mount Pleasant site lies the Madison Family Cemetery—the final resting place of James and Dolley Madison.

Slave Cemetery
A few hundred yards north of the Madison Family Cemetery is the Slave Cemetery, containing the graves of at least 38 members of Montpelier's enslaved community. Archaeologists suspect that the graveyard may have extended beyond this known position.

James Madison's Landmark Forest and Demonstration Trail

The James Madison Landmark Forest is a 200-acre old-growth forest that offers miles of walking trails for beginning and experience hikers alike. The U.S. Department of the Interior designated the Forest a National Natural Landmark in 1987. Several prize-winning trees live in the Forest.

The Demonstration Trail is an outdoor exhibit that shows the best ways to manage a healthy, sustainable forest. The Demonstration Forest Trail extends from the James Madison Landmark Forest as a one-mile loop. Visitors can observe proper forestry management techniques at four demonstration stations along the trail.

Mount Pleasant Site
Just west of the Visitor Center and east of the Madison Family Cemetery lies the site of the original family homestead, Mount Pleasant. Built by James Madison's grandfather, Ambrose, the first Madison home site is 500 yards from the current home.

Active Archaeological Dig and Archaeology Laboratory

Montpelier offers visitors a behind-the-scenes view of an active archaeological dig and lab. Visitors will be able to watch archaeologists wash, identify, mend, and conserve recent discovers buried for 200 years in Madison's kitchen work yard, slave quarters, and home. 

The lab also contains displays and study collection drawers of glassware, porcelain, bones, buttons, and Civil War artifacts—all available for viewing—plus a state-of-the-art touch screen that teaches visitors about archaeology at Montpelier. Working archaeologists are available seven days a week to answer questions.

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View of Blue Ridge Mountains

Take in a view that captures
the essence of Virginia.