Great Falls Virginia is one of the most popular natural destinations in the Washington DC area. At Great Falls, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge.
Address: 9200 Old Dominion Dr, McLean, VA 22102 (Approx. 1.5 hrs. from Fredericksburg area.)
Hours: Great Falls Park is open seven days a week from 7:00 a.m. until thirty (30) minutes after sunset. It’s closed December 25.
The Visitor Center is open from 10:00 to 4:00 daily. UPDATE: Visitor Center is temporarily closed as of March 17, 2020. Restrooms are still open.
Cost: Entrance is $20 per vehicle for a 7 consecutive day pass. Individuals entering on motorcycle pay $15, and on foot, horse, or bike pay $10. Since Great Falls Park is part of the National Park Service, National Park Service passes are accepted. Fees are also waived on National Park Free Entrance days.
Digital Entrance fees & passes can be purchased online. Click HERE for more information.
Ample car parking is available, but it does fill on weekends especially when the weather is good. Wait times to enter the park can reach an hour or more. Your best bet is to go early or during the week.
Leashed dogs are allowed throughout Great Falls Park.
Webpage: Great Falls Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
Great Falls is part of the George Washington National Parkway, a scenic drive connecting historic sites from here to George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
Excellent waterfall views are reached on accessible pathways. There are three waterfall overlooks on the Virginia side of Great Falls Park.
Great Falls Park hiking trails cover 15 miles of the park on a mix of dirt and rock surfaces. The best Great Falls trails navigate the river-side cliffs and historic areas of the park. There are easy and more challenging hikes. You can find a detailed trail map HERE.
Stop in the Visitor Center for some background on the geology, history, and nature of Great Falls Park. There are displays and two short videos that will explain George Washington’s role in creating the Patowmack Canal and the park’s later fame as a popular trolley destination.
There is a large picnic area near the Visitor Center.
We have really enjoyed our visits to Great Falls. The falls really are amazing. One day we’d love to check out the Maryland side of the park.
While you’re up in the McClean area, take your kid to this fun park. Clemyjontri Park is only a 14 min. drive from Great Falls. Clemyjontri Park features a unique playground where children of all abilities can play side-by-side. It is open 7 a.m. to dusk.