• 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 »


Photo of canoes beached along the canal.

Boating is a great way to experience the canal.

NPS Photo

Several short and widely separated sections of the canal have been rewatered and offer boating opportunities. Boats need to be carried around lift locks. Listed below are the watered sections of the canal.

Mile 0 to 22 Georgetown to Violettes Lock
Mile 99.8 to 99.30 Williamsport to Lock 44
Mile 112 to 113 Big Pool
Mile 120 to 121 Little Pool
Mile 124.1 to 124.7 Hancock
Mile 162- to 167 Oldtown to Town Creek

Use of electric motorized vessels is allowed only at Big Pool, Little Pool, and canal waters from Lock 68 to Town Creek Aqueduct. Gasoline and propane motorized vessels are prohibited within the park. Personal floatation devices should be used as required by the state of Maryland. Use special care if boating on the Potomac River. Canoeing on the Potomac should be done under the direct supervision of an experienced adult canoeist. Boat launch ramps are available along the canal. See Milepost guide.



Canoeing is not advisable between Great Falls and Chain Bridge, an area where many have drowned.

Dam 2 at Seneca (low dam)

Dam 3 above Harpers Ferry (low dam) Canoeing is not recommended between Dam 3 and the U.S. 340 bridge downstream of Sandy Hook,

Dam 4 near Downsville (portage on Maryland side)

Low water dam at North Branch. Canoeists should put in at Spring Gap.

Power company dam at Williamsport (portage on West Virginia side)

Dam 5 above Williamsport (high dam, must portage on either side)

Laws in whitewater areas require personal floatation devices. Don't just carry your PFD in the boat. Please wear your life jacket- properly buckled, zipped, tied, or clipped.

The National Park Service partners with two boat concessioners in the downstream end of the canal. For more information click here.

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.