Boat Rides at Great Falls
Due to low water levels in the Great Falls area, please call the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center (301-767-3714) in advance of your trip to confirm the mule-drawn boat tour schedule.
General Application (Special Use Permit)
C&O Canal Permits Office (M-Th)
To reach our permits coordinator by email: e-mail us
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) extends 184.5 miles along the Potomac River, a treasure hidden in plain sight. From Georgetown in the District of Columbia to Cumberland, Maryland, the park preserves a wealth of our nation's history and a rich array of rare natural resources.
Many visitors enjoy recreational benefits, such as hiking and cycling, by means of the park's towpath, hiking trails, campgrounds, and other facilities.
In order to coordinate special park use events it is necessary to require permits for certain activities. The Special Use Permit (SUP) program authorizes activities that provide benefit to an individual, group or organization, rather than the public at large; and that require written authorization and some degree of management control in order to protect park resources and the public interest. These activities include, but are not limited to:
To protect the resources and preserve the purpose of the park, permits are also necessary for the following activities:
Regional Office Permits
Permits for first amendment rights demonstrations, special events, and/or commercial filming and photography that take place in Montgomery County and the District of Columbia are required by C.F.R., Title 36, Chapter 1, Section 7.96 to be processed through the National Capitol Region (NCR) Park Programs Division. For C&O Canal NHP, any event that takes place between Georgetown and the Monocacy Aqueduct require a regional permit. To obtain an application and additional information, contact the NCR Park Programs Division office at (202) 245-4715 or download the application and mail it in. You may visit their website for additional information. To determine if your event will be processed by the park or region, please contact the Special Park Use Coordinator at (301) 745-5815.
Commercial Use Authorization
A Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) is required for businesses to conduct commercial activities within C&O Canal NHP. Businesses that bring visitors into the park who provide a product or service in exchange for payment of said services require a CUA. Examples of typical commercial operations within the park include, but are not limited to, rock climbing instruction at the Carderock climbing area, access to the Potomac River through C&O Canal NHP, bike tours utilizing the park's historic towpath, horseback riding tours in authorized areas, and shuttle services utilizing C&O Canal NHP parking lots.
Permit Fees & Cost Recovery
As directed by Congress, the National Park Service collects a fee to recover the cost of administering permits. Recoverable fees are charged for permits as described in 16 U.S.C. 3a, 31 U.S.C. 9701, and National Park Service Guidelines for Special Park Uses. The following charges are established for special use, commercial filming and photography permits for C&O Canal National Historical Park.
C&O Canal requires all permittees to obtain a certificate of insurance for general liability. The National Park Service must be listed as additional insured in the certificate of insurance. Commercial Use Authorization permittees are additionally required to have automotive insurance and worker's compensation. Please contact the park's permit office for amounts of insurance required for your permit.
The National Park Service is directed to conserve park resources "unimpaired" for the enjoyment of future generations. Therefore, any activities that would cause derogation of or detract from the values and purposes for which a park has been established cannot be allowed.
Did You Know?
Canal historians estimate approximately 35,000 laborers helped dig the canal as well as build aqueducts, culverts, locks, lock houses, etc. It took 22 years to build the canal from Georgetown, DC to Cumberland, MD. Much of the workforce were immigrants from Ireland and western Europe.