Rock Creek Park

Rock Creek Park

Quick Facts

Rock Creek Park

District Of Columbia

(202) 895-6070

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Rock Creek Park is truly a gem in the U.S. capital. It offers visitors an opportunity to reflect and soothe their spirits through the beauty of nature. Fresh air, majestic trees, wild animals, and the ebb and flow of Rock Creek emanate the delicate aura of the forest. On forested hills surrounding the nation's capital are the remnants of a complex system of Civil War fortifications. Built by Union forces, these strategic buttresses transformed the young capital into one of the world's most fortified cities. These forts remain as windows into the past in the midst of D.C.'s urban green space, offering recreational, cultural, and natural experiences.

Rock Creek Park is open during daylight hours.

Map of Rock Creek

Latitude, Longitude: 38.961140, -77.039220

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Activities

  • Boating

    Thompson Boat center rents bicycles, kayaks, canoes, small sailboats and rowing shells. Lessons are available. Weather permitting, it is open daily (except December and January). The entrance is opposite Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway at Virginia Avenue. A few metered parking spaces are available.

  • Bicycling

    Rock Creek has a variety of paved bicycle paths, one of which runs from the Lincoln Memorial through the park and into Maryland. Memorial Bridge connects it to the Mount Vernon Trail in Virginia. Other bicycle trails near the Rock Creek Trail are the C&O Canal towpath in Georgetown and the Capital Crescent trail in Georgetown and Bethesda, MD. Beach Drive between Military and Broad Branch roads is closed to cars from 7 a.m. Saturday to 7 p.m. Sunday and on holidays for bicycling, hiking, jogging and rollerblading. Please stick to designated paved bicycle paths. Bicycles are not permitted on unpaved horse or foot trails.

  • Golfing

    Rock Creek Golf Course, an 18-hole public course with clubhouse, can be reached from 16th and Rittenhouse streets, NW. Clubs and carts can be rented. The clubhouse has lockers and a snack bar. Open daily, except December 25, dawn to dusk. A fee is charged.

  • Hiking

    An extensive system of trails and paths cover Rock Creek Park and outlying areas such as Glover Archbold Park. These trails are maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) consist of a blue-blazed trail that follows the east side of the creek, a green-blazed trail that follows the western ridge of the park and tan-blazed connector trails.

    For physical fitness enthusiasts, a 1.5-mile exercise course begins near Calvert Street and Connecticut Avenue.

  • Historic Sites

    Rock Creek Park was founded in 1890 as one of the first federal parks. Its establishing legislation cites the area's natural beauty and high public value. When the park was established, it was on the edge of the growing city and was already a favorite area for rural retreat. In the establishing legislation, Rock Creek Park was "dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the United States." The park would "provide for the preservation from injury or spoliation of all timber, animals, or curi­osities within said park, and their retention in their natural condition, as nearly as possible."

  • Horseback Riding

    For the horse rider, 13 miles of wide, dirt and gravel bridle trails crisscross the northern section of the park. Near picnic area 25, off of Glover Road is an Equitation field. Horseback riding lessons and guided trail rides are available at the Rock Creek Park Horse Center.

  • Picnicking

    Rock Creek Park has 30 picnic areas throughout the park; some have rain shelters. Many can be reserved for groups up to 75. The park map shows the picnic areas. The numbered blue circles are reservation sites and the numbered black circles are first come, first served areas.

  • Tennis

    There are 15 soft-surface and 10 hard-surface tennis courts at 16th and Kennedy Streets, NW. These courts must be reserved through Guest Services, Inc. The courts are open year-round and there is a charge. There are three soft-surface courts right off Park Road, just east of Peirce Mill. These courts must be reserved through Guest Services, Inc. The courts are open Memorial Day to Labor Day and a fee is charged. The courts at Montrose Park are free. When others are waiting, please limit your play to one hour.

  • Winter Sports

    Cross country ski on some of the multi-use trails during the winter months.

Directions

Driving

How to get to the Nature Center/Planetarium: Take Route 66 across the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge. Get in the right lane on the bridge, and take the ramp for Independence Avenue. Turn right at the bottom of the ramp (heading towards the Kennedy Center along the river; this is Ohio Drive, but it's not marked as such). After passing the Kennedy Center (under its terrace) and Watergate, continue straight onto Rock Creek Parkway. When the parkway ends (near Connecticut and Calvert), continue north on Beach Drive. You will pass the zoo and Pierce Mill. Continue on Beach Drive until you see a sign for the Nature Center; bear left here (onto Glover Road), as the sign instructs. (*On weekends there will be a gate across Beach Drive, so you will be unable to go to the right!) Follow the signs to the Nature Center.

Via the Beltway or Maryland: Take the Beltway north into Maryland; exit at Connecticut Ave. and proceed southbound toward Chevy Chase. About 7-8 blocks south of Chevy Chase Circle, turn left onto Military Road. Go a little over a mile, and you will see a big brown sign that says "ROCK CREEK PARK-NATURE CENTER...". Take the next right (at the traffic light), as the sign instructs, and follow subsequent signs to the Nature Center.

Via the Chain Bridge (VA): At the end of the bridge, turn right onto Canal Road. Make the first left (at the light) onto Arizona Avenue. Proceed on Arizona until you come to a "T" intersection; make a right turn there onto Nebraska Ave. (The signs there may say "Loughboro Rd.," but it runs into Nebraska.) Proceed on Nebraska past American University, around Ward Circle, and across Wisconsin and Connecticut Avenues. Get into the right lane and turn right onto Military Road; less than 1/2 mile after you cross Connecticut. After a little less than a mile, you will see a big brown sign that says "ROCK CREEK PARK-NATURE CENTER...". Take the next right (at the traffic light), as the sign instructs, and follow subsequent signs to the Nature Center.

From Dupont Circle: Proceed Northeast on New Hampshire Avenue for approximately half a mile when it will intersect 16th Street. Head north on 16th Street, towards the Maryland border. About 3 1/4 miles up the road, it will intersect Military Road, after Madison and Nicholson Streets. Take the right hand exit onto Military Road west (cloverleaf ramp). Cross Military Bridge and then it will turn into a small parkway. Get in the left-hand lane. Make a left at the first light that you come to, at Glover and Oregon Roads. You are now on Glover Road and can follow the signs to the Nature Center.

Public Transportation

The Friendship Heights or Fort Totton Metro are the closest stations to the Nature Center. Take the E-2, E-3 bus (from either Metro stop) to the intersection of Glover & Military Rd. Get off, look to your left and follow the trail up to the Nature Center. The Van Ness Station is the closest metro stop to Peirce Mill, but it is still about a mile away. From Van Ness, walk south on Connecticut Avenue to Tilden Street and make a left. Follow Tilden to the bottom of the hill and the mill is on your left. Foggy Bottom is the closest metro stop to the Old Stone House, from there walk north to Washington Circle and take Pennsylvania Ave. west M street and continue west along M Street to the Old Stone House, about a 1/2 mile.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(202) 895-6070

Links