• Historic Shot of Canal Boat on the Canal

    Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

    National Historical Park DC,MD,WV

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • NEW Overnight parking system

    Before parking a vehicle overnight in any Canal Parking area, visitors must register their vehicle through the new online registration system. Print your reciept and place on your dashboard. If unable to print, please visit the nearest visitor center. More »

  • Water Pump Handles Temporarily Removed

    Water pump handles at Bald Eagle Island, Jordan Junction and Big Woods Hiker Biker Campsites have been removed due to bad water samples. Handles will be reinstalled when good water samples are received.

  • Boat Tours at Great Falls

    Due to low water levels in the Great Falls area, call the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center (301-767-3714) in advance of your trip to confirm the mule-drawn boat tour schedule.

  • Parking Lot Closure

    CSX is now beginning a phase of their bridge project that requires the closure of the Lock 74 parking lot for approximatly 18 months. Access to visitor parking near Lock 75 is now re-opened with a gravel parking lot at the site.


The C&O Canal provides important habitat to many animals, aquatic and terrestrial during breeding and migration seasons and throughout the year. Aquatic environments in the park include wetlands, streams, rivers, springs and seeps, and open water habitat in the sections of watered canal. These habitats support animals such as frogs, toads, salamanders, fish, freshwater mussels, beaver, and muskrat.

Terrestrial habitats such as forests, open fields, rocky outcrops, developed, and transition habitats support many common Eastern Deciduous woodland species: deer, song birds, red and gray fox, raccoon, gray and fox squirrels, and a few uncommon species, black bear and bobcat. Bald eagle, a federally threatened species, nest here and are seen quite regularly.

The linear shape of C&O Canal and the 184.5 trail along the riparian forest of the Potomac River provides a transportation corridor for wildlife as well as human hikers and bicyclists. Corridors of unfragmented habitat are important for the preservation of biodiversity, allowing for the movement of species between areas of higher quality or preferred habitat. Additionally, larger blocks of parkland of 100-500 acres provide important protected habitat to wildlife. As our landscape becomes more developed or urbanized, corridors of contiguous, protected habitat will become increasingly important in the preservation of biodiversity and the maintenance of viable wildlife populations.

Wildlife Alert

Please enjoy and observe wild animals from a distance. Photograph all wildlife from a safe distance. Use telephoto lenses and observe quietly. It is dangerous and illegal to feed wild animals including ducks and geese in national parks. Wildlife can become dependent on handouts and lose their ability to forage for food causing them to starve. Such animals can lose their fear of humans and become aggressive.

Animals can be very protective of their young and can become aggressive if cornered. Never approach or feed wildlife. Also they can be infected with the rabies virus and can infect you or your pet if bitten or scratched.

If you encounter an animal that is acting strangely or an animal has attacked you, immediately report it to our emergency Dispatch Center 866-677-6677. If you want to learn more about rabies, please visit the CDC website (www.cdc.gov/rabies).

Help us keep wildlife wild.

Pets must be on leash no longer than 6 feet at all times. Loose or feral pets often disturb or kill wildlife or their newborns. Protective wildlife parents can be aggressive and could harm you or your pet. Keep wildlife and your pets safe by observing the leash law.

Did You Know?

Drawing DaVinci's lock gate design 1485.

Transporting goods and people by canal dates back to antiquity. The lock gates used on the C&O Canal were an adaptation of a design by Leonardo DaVinci in the late 1400's. Until the advent of the railroad, water travel was far superior to land travel.