• Historic Shot of Canal Boat on the Canal

    Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

    National Historical Park DC,MD,WV

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  • Towpath Reroute!

    6/14/14- Towpath breach at MM 106, just below Dam #5. Towpath Detour in place (this detour does not leave park property). Please be aware of possible towpath hazards due to heavy rains.

  • Water Pump Handles Temporarily Removed

    Purslane Run, Stickpile, Evitts Creek Hiker-Biker Campgrounds and Paw Paw Campground water pump handles have been removed due to bad water samples. Handles will be installed when good water samples are received.

  • 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.

  • Boat Rides at Great Falls

    Regularly scheduled tour times for the mule-drawn canal boat at Great Falls have changed. In July and August 2014 tours will be offered Saturdays and Sundays at 11:00, 1:30 and 3:00. Please call the Visitor Center for more info: 301-767-3714. More »

Scenic Vistas

Along the 184.5 miles of the C&O Canal are countless vistas of natural scenic beauty, historic settings and sites of a blend of both. In the early 1800’s, Canal Company engineers built the canal and towpath to take advantage of the Potomac River as the water source and as a westward route through mountainous terrain.” Unintentionally, this design left a scenic corridor of historic features or structures and the natural floodplain and upland Piedmont forests of the Potomac River ecosystem that is now the C&O Canal NHP. Visitors may enjoy the numerous cultural landscapes and significant historical settings, throughout the park, such as the Great Falls Tavern, Georgetown, the Paw Paw Tunnel, and numerous locks and lockhouses. The entire length of the canal and towpath and many of the associated structures are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Several historic settings are listed on the NPS Cultural Landscape Inventory. The park’s scenic vistas include not only the historic settings but also the natural beauty of the floodplain and upland Piedmont forests. Examples of vistas are numerous views out to the Potomac River from the towpath, the Paw Paw Bends area, the Great Falls of the Potomac, spring wildflower sites and countless more. A few scenic vistas are a result of the engineered canal; such are the Wide Water area, Mary’s Wall and Big Slack Water. Views from the towpath have been protected to the greatest extent possible through the founding park legislation, National Park Service policies and management strategies. Protecting this linear park, the enabling legislation, Public Law 91-664 states the park mandate is “In order to preserve and interpret the historic and scenic features of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.“ Park managers continue to identify issues that may compromise the quality of scenic vistas throughout the park and strive for solutions, which reduce the threats to the landscapes. The resulting goal is to provide a rewarding and pleasurable experience for park visitors.

Did You Know?

Photo Maryland Gold Mine.

There are several gold mines in the Great Falls area. The largest of these is the Maryland Mine located at the intersection of Falls Road and MacArthur Boulevard near Potomac, Maryland. Gold was first discovered here by a Union soldier from Pennsylvania during the Civil War.