Contact: J. A. Lyon, Marketing & Communications Manager

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – Monticello is pleased to reopen the Saunders-Monticello Trail and Kemper Park on Tuesday, June 9 with new safety procedures in place. The trail and park will also operate with altered hours. 

Welcoming nearly 140,000 visitors annually, the Saunders-Monticello Trail is one of the most popular parks in Charlottesville and is open to the public free of charge. The park is owned and maintained by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello and is supported by private donations.  

“Since 2000 Monticello has taken pride in giving the community free use of the Saunders-Monticello Trail and surrounding Kemper Park,” said Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. “We were sorry that the COVID-19 outbreak forced us to close it. So many of us in the community rely on the park and trails as a place for exercise and relaxation. Those benefits are even more important now, so we have worked hard to make important changes. As we first reopen our trails, and then Monticello, our top priority is the health and safety of our guests.” 

Winding through a native hardwood forest and offering spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the gravel and boardwalk trail gently climbs to Monticello. A maximum grade of 5 percent keeps it completely accessible to walkers, cyclists and those in wheelchairs. Additional woodland trails are accessible in the surrounding 375-acre park.

During the park’s initial reopening phase, the following safety measures will be in place:

Operating Hours

The trail system will be open daily from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Gates will close promptly at 7 p.m. to allow adequate time for additional cleaning and trail maintenance.  

Face Coverings

Face coverings are strongly recommended, especially on the boardwalks and other areas where physical distancing is difficult. Face coverings are required for anyone visiting Monticello or using facilities at the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center.


Dogs must be on a leash at all times while on trails and in the park. Dogs are not permitted on the boardwalks for safety reasons. However, there are seven miles of rustic, pet-friendly trails. 


To reduce employees’ contact with waste, guests are asked to carry out trash and properly dispose of waste outside of the park.

A complete list of trail guidelines, maps, trail information and updates are available at  



About The Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation was incorporated in 1923 to preserve Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Today, the foundation seeks to bring history forward into national and global dialogues by engaging audiences with Jefferson’s world and ideas and inviting them to experience the power of place at Monticello and on its website. Monticello is recognized as a National Historic Landmark, a United Nations World Heritage Site and a Site of Conscience. As a private, nonprofit organization, the foundation’s regular operating budget does not receive ongoing government support to fund its twofold mission of preservation and education. For information, visit