The Great Falls of the Potomac River

Near Washington, D.C., the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through a narrow gorge. The river here was a trading place for Indians and early colonists, and it is still a gathering place today.

The falls are actually composed of several parts as the Potomac divides into several channels at this spot. In lower water, the falls are very beautiful and scenic.


Below the falls, the channels rejoin and continue through a gorge. The falls can be viewed from several different viewpoints along the shoreline. Although fences restrict some areas, it still is possible to get very close to the falls.

Great Falls Park, a site that is part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, is an 800 acre park located along the Potomac River 14 miles upriver from Washington D.C.

The park is known for two things, its scenic beauty at the head of Potomac River fall line and the historic Patowmack Canal.

Operating Hours & Seasons

The park is open every day except December 25. The park opens at 7AM and is closed at dark.Visitor Center Hours:
summer: 10 - 5 weekdays; 10 - 6 weekends
winter: 10 - 4


Great Falls Park Visitor Center

Open All Year
November to mid-April 10 - 4pm everyday
Mid- April to October Mon- Fri 10-5, Sat-Sun 10-6


Available Facilities
Picnic tables and grills are available near the Visitor Center. All tables and grills are first come, first serve. No reservations are accepted and no covered facilites are available.

Restrooms are available in the Visitor Center area and lower parking area. A snack bar is located in the Vistor Center courtyard. A bookstore is located in the Visitor Center.

The Great Falls of the Potomac can be viewed within a short walk of the visitor center. The overlooks date to the early 20th century when the land was a private amusement park, and Washington D.C., residents arrived by train.

Great Falls Park has 15 miles of trails for hiking and exploring with places to view the rugged Potomac River and Mather Gorge. A park trail map and a self guiding brochure for the Patowmack Canal Trail are available at the visitor center.