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March 25, 2023 / mws

2023 Great Falls Park March

IMG_0030The 800 acre Great Falls Park is administered by the National Park Service, so we were able to use our National Parks Pass to enter without a charge. The park has two locations: one in Maryland and the other in Northern Virginia.  The natural wildness of Great Falls is on display in both locations with a series of steep, jagged rocks that form boundaries as the Potomac River flows through the narrow Mather Gorge.

Maryland Side

The Maryland side of Great Falls is a part of the C & O Canal National Historic Park and is accessed from Falls Road in Potomac, Maryland. The park includes one of the oldest canals in the United States (U.S.). The Patowmack Canal is the first canal in the US that used locks to raise and lower boats.

FB7The Tavern Visitor Center dates back to 1828 and was a former lockhouse, and hotel. The current Tavern Visitors Center has restrooms and a museum. Nearby the Visitors Center there are two overlook areas. To the north, the Washington Aqueduct Observation Deck provides a view of the upper falls. To the south, the Olmsted Island Bridges provide multiple scenic views of the falls.


Virginia Side

The Virginia side of Great Falls park is located at 9200 Old Dominion Drive, McLean, Virginia. The Virginia Great Falls Park Visitor Center has trail maps, historical exhibits,  and a video presentation on the history of Great Falls Park. In addition there is  an interactive children’s room, a bookstore and restrooms.

There is no immediate access in the park from one side to the other. Interstate Route 495 crosses the Potomac River from Maryland to Virginia south of Great Falls Park. For our day trip we visited the Maryland side.

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