It’s almost impossible to believe, as one wanders among the hardwood forest under the leafy
green canopy in Great Falls Park, that our nation’s capital, with its go-getter,
politicking population, is a mere 14 miles down river. But the terrain in this lush
800-acre Virginia park seems worlds away from Washington, D.C.’s feuds and filibusters.
Great Falls Park earned its name because the Potomac River drops precipitously through the
area, cascading over and around the giant boulders that part the Potomac here, across from
C & O Canal National Historic Park to the east, on the Maryland side of the river.
Great Falls is part of both the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the continually
evolving Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, a collection of approximately 150 sites that
preserve, promote and celebrate the natural beauty, historical significance, cultural
diversity and economic impact of the Chesapeake Bay on America — and the world. Yet,
visitors need not care which organizations Great Falls is a member of to appreciate the
park’s walking, biking and riding trails; stunning vistas; fishing; rock-climbing;
experts-only kayaking; or significant George Washington history.
The park does not offer
overnight camping, so RVers will have to enjoy Great Falls only during daytime visits. They
should pack a picnic lunch, plenty of film and, perhaps, their sense of amazement, since
once guests learn in the visitor center the role the park played in the drafting of the
United States Constitution, then see the remnants of the canal George Washington helped to
create, they will certainly be impressed.
Great Falls Park, (703) 285-2965, nps.gov/grfa.