• Great Falls of the Potomac in summer

    Great Falls

    Park Virginia

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  • Trash Free Park

    Great Falls Park is now a trash free park. Trash cans have been removed. Please come prepared to carry your trash out with you. More »

  • River Safety

    Learn more about how to stay safe around the Potomac. The Potomac has dangerous currents and going into the river is not permitted. Swimming and wading could cost you your life. Stay safe. Stay out of the river. More »

  • No Water in Visitor Center Courtyard

    Due to plumbing problems, there are no bathrooms available in the Visitor Center (VC) courtyard. There are portajohns behind the Snackbar for public use. *Please note: Restrooms near the lower parking lot are fully operational.

  • Weekend and Holiday Delays for Entry

    Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays when there is a good weather forecast, expect delays of up to an hour from Noon to 4pm when entering the park.

Geology PAC

Welcome to the Geology PAC program. This is a program designed to introduce students to the geology of Great Falls and Mather Gorge. As a part of all PAC programs, students will come to Great Falls Park to learn in a park environment with a park ranger. The park visit takes approximately three and a half hours, including a lunch break for the students.

The pre visit activities can be downloaded by selecting the links below. If you are interested in scheduling a PAC program, visit the main PAC page or contact the park directly at 703-285-2965. The full Geology PAC booklet is also available from the park and will be given to groups scheduling this program.

 

Program Overview

Exploring Geology – Formation of Great Falls is a curriculum-based program for upper elementary grades that teaches Earth Science. The program introduces the concepts of the rock cycle, examines the different types of rocks, and explores how Earth is dynamic. Great Falls is unique in that rock formations exposed in Great Falls Park are very rare in the region, making it a favorite spot for study. Besides the fact that all processes in the rock cycle are represented in the rock, the scenic beauty of the environment is awe inspiring, making the park an outstanding outdoor classroom.

Students study the basic principles of Earth Science in the classrooms, establishing a foundation for hands-on activities in the real world. An in-depth 4-hour on-site program offers students the opportunity to experience the natural world. It is the programs intent to provide children with lasting images of our dynamic Earth and the idea that national parks are fun places to visit and explore the natural world while at the same time demonstrating the importance of preserving our environment for future generations. Through cooperation with Park Rangers and educators, the program has the potential to reach children in deeper, more meaningful ways.

 

Background Information and the Park Visit

In addition to the pre-visit activities, Geology PAC includes a trip to Great Falls Park. While here, students will participate in activities and go on a hike with a park ranger to look at the geology of Great Falls up close.

Park Visit Schedule and Teacher Checklist- a schedule for your visit and things to know before you come.


Pre-visit Activities

To prepare your class for the program, please complete one or more of the pre-site activities or lessons, preferably one week prior to your visit to the park. They will provide a foundation for the on-site visit, greatly enhancing their learning experience when seeing things first-hand.

Inside the Earth

Weathering and Erosion

Rocks and Minerals

Did You Know?

1996 Flood from Overlook 3

Rapid snow melts and heavy rains have caused floods at Great Falls Park. Floods have helped to create the unique natural environment in the park. They are one of the reasons why several rare plant communities exist here.