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“Great place to have a picnic or take your kids to run around - waterfall and big river action” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Great Falls National Park

Great Falls National Park
9200 Old Dominion Drive, McLean, VA 22102
703-285-2965
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Ranked #1 of 14 Attractions in McLean
Type: National Parks, Parks, Bodies of Water, Outdoors
Activities: White-water rafting, People-watching
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Attraction details
Owner description: An 800 acre park located just off the Potomac river.
Arlington, Virginia
Top Contributor
108 reviews 108 reviews
62 attraction reviews
Reviews in 40 cities Reviews in 40 cities
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
“Great place to have a picnic or take your kids to run around - waterfall and big river action”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2013

I really like this place. The falls themselves are quite impressive (OK not like Niagra, but you would not want to be going over these in a boat, let me tell you). When the water is high after a lot of rain, you cannot believe how powerful this river is and it makes you pause to think of what Native Americans or Colonialists thought about it. The park has really nice observation decks on the Virginia side that give you a full view of the falls and some of the more spectacular chutes through which the water races. There are trails that take you back in the woods and down to the river. You may see people sitting on the rocks above the river, but beware, this is a highly dangerous and fast moving river that carries a lot of debris and snags below the surface and quite a few people drown every year in this area because they think they can handle it. Don't you believe it. This river is a monster. Just watch it from the shore or the paths above it. Do not let the temptation to wade into it or jump into it from the cliffs get you. Back in the woods you can see remains of the old canal that George Washington invested in to get goods from Pennsylvania to DC and vice versa. There is also a great picnicking spot with lots of picnic tables and grills. I commonly see big family gatherings here on the weekends. A very mellow place and really nice and fast if you want to just get out of town and be surrounded by nature, but not be too isolated. The visitor center is not much to speak about, but the small kids might like it and there are bathrooms there.

Visited May 2013
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Richmond, Virginia
Top Contributor
86 reviews 86 reviews
54 attraction reviews
Reviews in 43 cities Reviews in 43 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“Beautiful Park with problem”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2013

I love this park. The views are beautiful, and the trails are great, and much of it is handicap friendly. A lot of rain lately, so the falls were incredible. Nice picnic area, too. But there were actually two issues that made it a less than pleasant experience. The women's restroom is terrible. It really needs to be rethought. Second is probably not their fault, but rests on the shoulders of the visitors. Their new "green" initiative is not working. They removed trash cans and put up plastic bag dispensers with signs telling visitors that everything needs to leave with them. It was obvious humans don't care. Trash all over the park - chicken bones on the ground, water bottles everywhere, baby diapers on the restroom floor and under picnic tables. Made me want to just scream at people.

Visited July 2013
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Birdsboro, PA, USA
Top Contributor
168 reviews 168 reviews
53 attraction reviews
Reviews in 67 cities Reviews in 67 cities
85 helpful votes 85 helpful votes
“A bit of nature in the middle of a concrete jungle”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 1, 2013

This is a small park compared to other national parks. But it makes for a good day trip away from the Washington DC hustle and bustle. We were there when there was a lot of rain so the faills were running heavy. The falls are located at a wide area of the Potomac river just before Mather's Gorge. The gorge narrows quickly and when there is snow runoff above will back up the waters and overflow it banks. The falls drop some fifty feet and it was hard to envision the river rising that much. The scenic area to observe the falls is close to the visitor center and not a difficult walk if you stay on the trails. You can get close to the edge if you climb over some jagged rocks. The total trail runs a length of 2.5 miles and when you get north of the visitor center can become rough if you stay close to the river. There is a man made spillover which is only 10 feet high. However it runs the entire width of the river and is worth the walk to see.

Visited June 2013
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Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Nice place to see the sights and experience some nature away from the city.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 1, 2013 via mobile

Beautiful, a little rainy the day we went. Crowded at the overlooks. Took the kids and walked a mile or so. Plan to go back and walk some longer trails without kids. A good outdoors date when we need to get away from concrete and people.
Very dangerous in places, saw 2 kayaks get stuck in the current and foam, one had to get out of kayak and then they had to retrieve it. 2 people have drowned this past week when the were not supposed to be swimming. Respect nature!

Visited August 2012
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Richmond, VA
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3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
“Surprisingly awesome.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 24, 2013 via mobile

A definite must see. Worth the $5. Beauty you just dont expect in a big city. Park in last lot and walk to falls.

Visited June 2013
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