National Capital Region Parks - Great Falls Park title graphic

Contact: 9200 Old Dominion Drive, McLean, VA 22102. Call (703) 285-2965 or visit our website at

Great Falls aerial view
Great Falls Park

To schedule a program, call the park and be prepared to provide information regarding, your choice of dates (please try to give us three dates that you would be interested in having the programs conducted). We will request information about the type of program/subject you are interested in, the number of students, age-range of students, the number of adults, and any special needs or instructions. Please also provide us with your telephone number(s) and the best time to reach you. If you have a fax number and Email address, that will also assist us in contacting you.

Educational programs are generally limited to 25 students per park ranger. Programs for very young children require adult supervision from your organization (generally one adult per ten children). Programs will start and end at the agreed upon time. Programs are free, but groups should schedule with us as far in advance as possible since dates fill quickly, especially in the early fall and late spring.

Parks As Classrooms Programs (PAC): These programs require the teacher to conduct specific pre and post visit exercises with students in order to achieve the learning objectives for the program.

Clay Pond - Nature's Delicate Balance: This is a 3 hour program for students in grades 5-6. The program strives to build an awareness of the natural world through an understanding of its interconnections. The program's goals are to have students gain a better understanding of the natural environment at Great Falls Park by identifying components of an aquatic ecosystem and learning how they function. Students will also understand the value of preserving natural environments. One adult per seven students is requested.

Exploring Geology - Formation of Great Falls: This is a 3 hour program designed primarily for students in grades 5 - 6. The program can be adapted for grades 7-9, however. The program introduces concepts of the rock cycle, examines different rock types, and explores how the earth is dynamic. Students visit areas in the park where unique rock formations can be observed and discussed.

Exploring Geology: This is a shorter program modeled on the above geology PAC program. Elements (but not the entire contents) of the above program are presented. Time period can vary depending on the needs of the school. The program is suitable for grades 5 thru 9.

The Patowmack Canal: Learn about George Washington's canal that he hoped would bind the country together and dramatically improve commerce on the Potomac River. Students visit remains of this engineering feat. The program is suitable for grades 4 and up. Allow at least one hour for the program.

Falls Walk: View dramatic areas near the Great Falls of the Potomac River and learn the basics about the formation of the falls and Mather Gorge. General park history is also introduced during this one hour program. The program is suitable for grades 4 and up.

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Ugly: Vultures are a year-round inhabitant of the Great Falls area and are often misunderstood. This one hour program allows students to learn interesting facts about these birds and appreciate their place in the eco-system. The program is suitable for grades 3 and up.

A Tree for All Time: Explore human history through the eyes of a tree. Walk through a seldom visited area of forest on this two hour exploration of the value of forests. Wear good, sturdy shoes. The program is suitable for grades 5 and up.

Snakes: Learn to appreciate the important role snakes have in the eco-system. Make friends with our friendly snake, "Checkers," the corn snake. Time can vary. The program is suitable for grades 1 and up.

Animal Habitats: Discover where animals live and why. Learn how man's actions can greatly reduce animals' ability to survive. Visit areas in the park that provide habitats for animals. Time: 1 - 2 hours. The program is suitable for grades 3 - 6.

River Hike: Join a park ranger for a 1 hour hike. Explore the natural history of the Great Falls of the Potomac and search for signs that give us clues to how the falls were formed. The hike takes groups on the River Trail, atop the bedrock terrace, from which many geologic formations can be seen. Expect moderate terrain and uneven surfaces. The program is suitable for grades 5 - 9.

Park Discover Hike: Explore unique historical and natural locations while taking in the inspiring landscape. This is a one-hour program that allows students to understand why Great Falls was chosen to be part of the National Park Service System. The program is suitable for all grades.

Spring Scavenger Hunt: Get a glimpse into nature that you may not see at other times of the year. Join a ranger to hunt for sings of nature while exploring the River Trail. The program is suitable for ages 5 - 12.

Un-Natural Trail: How much do you really see when you are walking in the park? Test your skills of observation on a hike of a very special trail. Students will learn why camouflage is essential for survival in the natural world. This is a one-hour program for ages 6 - 12.

Slide Presentation - "History of Great Falls Park": This ten-minute program in the park's auditorium gives an overview of the park's history.

Bridging the Watershed Programs: Great Falls Park participates in this program in conjunction with the Alice Ferguson Foundation.

Custom Programs: With adequate lead time, the Great Falls staff can often customize a program by blending elements from two or more of the above together. Call the park to obtain more details.