Landscape & Grounds
Montpelier offers 2,650 acres of pastoral landscape, historic attractions, and spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We welcome you to take advantage of your visit and enjoy our gardens and grounds.
Wander the two-acre Annie duPont Formal Garden featuring walkways, sweeping beds, an herb garden, and magnificent marble lions and urns. Established in Madison's time, the Garden was renovated by Annie duPont in the early twentieth century.
Just north of the mansion, you can stand in the Temple where James Madison contemplated democracy and take in his 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.
Just behind the Mount Pleasant site lies the Madison Family Cemetery—the final resting place of James and Dolley Madison.
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.
The James Madison Landmark Forest is a 200-acre old-growth forest that offers miles of walking trails for beginning and experienced 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.
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 on the property was 500 yards from the current mansion.
Montpelier offers visitors behind-the-scenes views of active archaeological dig sites and laboratory. Visitors can watch archaeologists wash, identify, mend, and conserve recent discoveries buried for 200 years in Madison's kitchen work yard, slave quarters, and home.
The lab 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 accessible seven days a week to answer questions.