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Great Falls Park

1,333 Reviews
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Great Falls Park

1,333 Reviews
Sorry, there are no tours or activities available to book online for the date(s) you selected. Please choose a different date.
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from $51.29
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AlpinerHut wrote a review Nov 2020
Chantilly, Virginia1,005 contributions283 helpful votes
We escaped to Great Falls Park on Election Day 2020 to de-stress a little and found ourselves wondering why it had been so many years since we, local residents, had last visited. Great Falls cascades 75 feet over less than a mile of the Potomac River. The rocks are 750 million years old. The falls formed 35,000 years ago during the Last Glacial Period. The park itself? With the National Park Service for 54 years, after being a county park and a railroad company amusement park before that. Most visitors view the falls from the three overlooks near the visitor center on the Virginia side; there's also an overlook on the river's Maryland side, within sight but a long drive away. There are 15 miles of hiking trails, and you can see remains of the Patowmack Canal, the first U.S. canal to use locks. The 600-space parking lot speaks to how busy it  can get here. This is a popular spot for rock climbing (on the cliffs in Maher Gorge above the falls) and for expert whitewater boaters (note the word "expert" -- Great Falls is rated Class 5-6 Whitewater). TIPS: * This is a national park, so it's pricey to get in: $20 for a car, $15 for a motorcycle, $10 to bike or hike. Check the park's website for information on various annual passes that can save you a bundle. * If you're focusing on the overlooks, start with Overlook 3 (the farthest away) and work your way back: Overlook 2, then Overlook 1 (the closest to the falls). Two reasons: (1) You get an expansive view first, then work your way closer and closer and (2) If you're tired when you get to Overlook 1, you or your kids will be less likely to hurt yourself trying to mountain-goat on the dangerous rocks. * Take the warning signs seriously. Several people a year end their day here by drowning in the river. * If you live in the area, time your visit for spring or a couple days after a big rain to see the falls at their finest.
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Date of experience: November 2020
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Gautam R wrote a review Nov 2020
Laurel, Maryland123 contributions189 helpful votes
Absolute gem of a park within a stone's through of Washington DC. # There is an entry fee to the park. An annual pass is #35. # Arrive as early as you can. By 12:30, there is a long line of cars trying to get in, and they actually close the entry gates. # We hiked South on the River Trail, and made a loop coming back on the Ridge Trail and Swamp trail. Such varied terrain. The river trail has lots of views of the river, rock scrambles, and inclines/declines. The Ridge and swamp trails are relatively flat, less traveled, and more like a walk in the woods. # The main Canal trail (with the waterfall viewing) gets quite crowded, and mask wearing was around 75%. This trail is pretty flat. # We saw varied birds, and several deer on our hike.
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Date of experience: November 2020
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Skipper090 wrote a review Oct 2020
Washington DC, District of Columbia267 contributions95 helpful votes
There are three observation points, two of them easily accessible. The Virginia side is much more scenic than the Maryland side. Beyond looking at the falls, there are many mile of hiking trails, nearly all of which are easy to moderate and qute scenic. The ruins of the Pawtomack canal have been partly preserved, and there is one spectactular lock that dropped 100+ feet almost straight down through solid granite reach able by trail - you can get to it past the conservation construction area. Then there is Mathis Gourge, a narrow, high walled canyon - great views from one of the few trails that is moderately hard (only towards the end). The Park now allws people to climb down into base of the Falls near the third observation point - this is as hard and dangerous as it gets short of technical climbing (for which the Gourge is well known). The Park has the highest rated kayaking score, and a handfull people have made it up the Falls as the ultimate challenge - one of them died in a subsequent trip. Others climb up a rock formation in the middle of the Falls to make repeated trips down - quite a sight. Take the warnings seriously - a number of people are killed in the Park every year when the fall of jump into the water, including an occssional expert swimmer.
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Date of experience: October 2020
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L K wrote a review Oct 2020
Washington DC, District of Columbia86 contributions46 helpful votes
This is a great place to visit, especially if you’re looking for a nearby outdoor excursion close to DC! We visited early in the morning on a weekday and it wasn’t crowded and easy to socially distance. The views of the falls are great and we enjoyed some of the moderate difficulty trails. When you pay for admission it’s good for reentry for a week which is nice if you want to go multiple days in a row.
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Date of experience: October 2020
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MLG wrote a review Oct 2020
51 contributions5 helpful votes
I like better the VA than the MD side. Walking bordering the river is very peaceful and beautiful. If you want to avoid crowds is advisable to arrive early. People in general are wearing masks but due to the with of trails keeping social distancing can be challenging The place is just magnificent
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Date of experience: October 2020
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