Fun fact: There are more people dead in Mount Hope Cemetery than living in the City of Rochester! It may seem odd to think of a cemetery as a family-friendly destination, but Mount Hope is as much park-like as it nearby neighbor Highland Park, each one of the 5 Pinnacle Hills.
The main roads are well maintained, which attracts runners and walkers looking to escape the city streets. You can drive (slowly!) and observe the vast expanse of monuments, mausoleums, flora and fauna. The south side of the cemetery is considered the “new” section, and the north-side the “old.” You can clearly see the difference in the layout of roadways and the age of the headstones. The north section is where you will find the final resting places of Nathaniel Rochester, Susan B. Anthony, and Frederick Douglass. The north section roadways are well-worn, some are made of cobblestone and uneven, and some may be better to explore on foot.
Autumn in Mount Hope Cemetery
Mount Hope Cemetery is a special place all year-round, but there’s something about Autumn that turns it into a virtual painting. Because of the diversity of trees, everywhere you turn you are presented with a new color pallet, and whether sunlight is present or not, you can experience a different walkthrough each time you visit. In late October before it snows, when the leaves have come to their final resting place, the ground is carpeted in the boldest yellows and reds. The maintenance staff does periodic leaf cleanup on the roads, but in the valleys, the leaves stay where they lay, undisturbed even by the wind.
In Autumn, I become obsessed with the trees. Can you tell? A picture will never, ever do them justice.
Take a tour!
You can learn quite a bit from the knowledgable tour guides who give tours of both the north and south sections. There is so much to learn on a walking tour of Mount Hope Cemetery—the story of various residents, the trees, the geology. They are also helpful in assimilating you to the lay of the land, helping you to navigate it on your own.
Speaking of geology, take the annual geology tour!
The land and the rocks tell a billion+ year old story and it’s fascinating! You’ll learn about ice age landforms (kames, moraines, kettles), the type of stones that make up gravestones, mausoleums and the ground you’re standing on, and residents who influenced the sciences during their time above ground. You’ll learn to see minute detail and big history!
More information about Mount Hope Cemetery
“Set in a picturesque landscape shaped by retreating glaciers, the cemetery features more than 80 mausoleums, soaring Egyptian obelisks, winged angels of mercy, a Florentine cast-iron fountain, two stone chapels in Gothic Revival style, a Moorish gazebo, and infinitely varied tombstones marking 350,000 graves across 196 acres.”
- Cost: Free, except for tours or special events
- Located in the City of Rochester (get directions)
- More information on the Friends of Mount Hope website: fomh.org