• Rock Creek

    Rock Creek

    Park District of Columbia

There are park alerts in effect.
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  • Road Closure: Sherrill Drive, NW September 8 thru 19 for DC Water Sewer Line Work

    Sherrill Dirve from 16th Street to Beach Drive, NW will be closed to vehicle and bicycle traffic on weekdays between September 8 through 19 between the hours of 9:30 am to 2:45 pm for construction work on a nearby sewer line. More »

  • Evening Lane and Road Closures, Beach Drive

    DC Water crews will be performing sewer inspections on Beach Drive NW from 9:00 pm to 5:30 am through November 28, 2014. This work will require lane and road closures. More »

  • Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway Lane Closures and Construction Update Summer 2014

    Construction work on Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway at Waterside Drive continues. There will be lane closures between rush hours to accommodate work on the roadway, multi-use trail and infrastructure. More »

Frequently Asked Questions

Directions?

1. How do you get to the Nature Center?
2. How do you get to Peirce Barn and Mill?
3. How do you get to the Old Stone House?
4. Can you please give me directions from public transportation?

Park Hours?

5. When is the park open?

Road Closures?

6. When are Beach Drive and the Park roads closed?
7. When is the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway one way?


Natural Resources?

8. Why do I see park staff in the park spraying chemicals and cutting plants?
9. Can I pick plants, take home an animal, or remove a historical item I found?
10. How many deer, raccoons, foxes, coyote or bears are there in the park?

Park Safety?

11. Is the park safe?

Information on the park and public & school programs?

12. How do I schedule a program?
13. What's going on with the General Management Plan?
14. How do I get on the mailing list for the calendar of events or newsletter?
15. How do I apply for a job?
16. Whom do I call for special use permits?
17. How do I reserve a picnic grove?
18. Where can I go horse riding? How much does it cost?
19. How big is the park?
20. When was this park created?
21. Do you have facilities for birthday parties?
22. What is the best hiking trail?
23. Where can I have a wedding in Rock Creek Park?


Rules and Regulations?

24. Is my dog allowed in the park?
25. Can I camp here?
26. Can I have a campfire in the park?
27. Can I fish in Rock Creek?
28. Can I kayak/canoe in Rock Creek?
29. Can I hold a special event in Rock Creek Park?
30. Can I swim, wade, bathe in Rock Creek?
31. What is the maximum number of people we can have in a picnic area?
32. Can we have amplified music at our picnic?
33. Can we have a moon bounce at our picnic?
34. Can I pan for gold in Rock Creek Park?

And the most frequently asked question on the web site:

35. How can I get a hard copy of the map of Rock Creek Park?

For other questions e-mail e-mail us

 
1. How do I get to the Nature Center? :

See http://www.nps.gov/rocr/planyourvisit/directions.htm
 
 
3. How do I get to the Old Stone House?

The Old Stone House at 3051 M Street, NW in Georgetown, directly across from the Barnes and Noble bookstore.
 

4. Can you please give me directions from public transportation?

The Friendship Heights Metro is the closest to the Nature Center. Take the E-2, E-3 bus to the intersection of Glover & Military Rd. Get off, look to your left and follow the trail up to the Nature Center.

The Van Ness Station is the closest metro stop to Peirce Mill, but it is still about a mile away. From Van Ness, walk south on Connecticut Avenue to Tilden Street and make a left. Follow Tilden to the bottom of the hill and the mill is on your left.

Foggy Bottom is the closest metro stop to the Old Stone House, from there walk north to Washington Circle and take Pennsylvania Ave. west to the Old Stone House, about a 1/2 mile.

 
5. When is Rock Creek Park open?

The park is open during daylight hours.
 
6. When are Beach Drive and other park roads closed?

Sections of Beach Drive from Broad Branch Road to Military Road and from picnic grove 10 to Wise Road and from West Beach Drive to the DC line are closed on Saturdays, Sundays (7:00 AM Saturday-7:00 PM Sunday), and holidays for bikers, roller bladers, hikers and joggers (On the map they are marked in faint yellow). In addition, Bingham Drive and Sherill Drive are also closed weekends and federal holidays.
 
7. When is the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway one way?

The Rock Creek Parkway is one way going south from the Connecticut Avenue, between 6:45- 9:30 AM and one way north from 3:45 - 6:30 PM, MONDAY-FRIDAY. All other times, the Parkway is open to both ways of traffic.
 
8. Why do I see park staff spraying chemicals and cutting plants in the park?

You see our Natural Resources Management staff and park contractors spraying non-native invasive plants found in Rock Creek Park. These plants pose a serious threat to the park's environment and must be managed to protect the native plants and animals found in the park. In 2012, the park published a new brochure, "Invasive, Non-native Plant Species," that is available to the public. The brochure provides information about the threats posed by non-native invasive plants, and ways that park visitors and neighbors can help address the problem. For a copy of the brochure or for additional information, call 202-895-6077.
 
9. Can I pick plants, berries, mushrooms, take animals home or remove historical items I find in the park?

No, no one may take anything out of the park, unless he or she is a professor or a professional (USGS, Smithsonian, etc.) with a permit (for plants or rocks) and he or she is using the specimen for an educational purpose. Visitors may be fined by Park Police if they are caught. If you see someone with a metal detector at places like Fort DeRussy or hunting for morels, please report these crimes to Park Police immediately!
 

10. How many deer, raccoons, foxes, coyote or bears are there in the park?

There are approximately 340 White-tailed deer in the park. In 1987, a population of deer decided to make their home here year round. Since then, the population has been increasing - they have no real enemies to control their population other than cars.

Rock Creek Park has the largest density of raccoons in the United States. We have red and gray fox in the park, but less of the gray fox. Visitors often think that foxes look like large cats or small dogs. Park employees believe that there are six to eight fox dens scattered throughout the park.

Coyote sightings have been reported since May 2004; they were confirmed by staff in September 2004. At least two animals have been seen in Rock Creek Park north of Military Road. See our coyote frequently asked questions page for more information. There are no bears in the park.

Visitors walking along Rock Creek may see signs of beavers (beaver chews on the trees) or on a lucky day, they may even see one!

 
11. Is the park safe?

Yes, the park is relatively safe. It is best to be with another person if you are hiking or running (as a precaution - especially for women...).
 

12. How do I schedule a program?

For the Nature Center call 202-895-6070 and talk to a ranger for scheduling a program between Wednesday-Friday. Programs last no longer than an hour. We offer Planetarium programs, Nature Walks, and special programs geared to a groups' needs.

For Peirce Barn and Mill call 202-895-6070 and talk to a ranger to schedule a program.

For the Old Stone House call 202-895-6070 and talk to a ranger to schedule a program.

 

13. What's going on with the General Management Plan?

The National Park Service (NPS) has issued a final decision on a General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (GMP) for Rock Creek Park and the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway. A notice in the Federal Register officially announcing the NPS “Record of Decision” was published on October 18, 2007.

Of the four alternatives presented in the GMP to improve visitor services, administrative functions and traffic management, the NPS has chosen “Alternative A.” This alternative upgrades trails, rehabilitates historic structures and improves the location and condition of visitor facilities. It also continues the weekend and holiday closures of sections of Beach Drive, and allows through traffic on weekdays, using methods to slow traffic and improve traffic safety throughout the park. Alternative A also continues the current weekday rush hour, one-directional flow of all lanes of traffic on the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway.

More information may be found at the NPS Planning, Environment and Public project page at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?parkId=198&projectId=11262

The complete Rock Creek Park General Management plan can be viewed at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=198&projectId=11262&documentID=13218

Further Information will also be available in the

Office of the Superintendent
Rock Creek Park
3545 Williamsburg Lane, NW
Washington, D.C., 20008-1207

and at the following locations:
Chief of Planning,
National Capital Region
National Park Service
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, D.C. 20242
(202) 619-7000

and the

Office of Public Affairs
National Park Service
Department of the Interior
18th and C Streets, NW
Washington, DC 20242
(202) 208-6843.

 
14. How do I get on the mailing list for the calendar of events or newsletter?

Call 202-895-6070 and ask to be added to the mailing list or e-mail e-mail us
 
15. How do I apply for a job?

Go to http://www.usajobs.opm.gov/ on the internet or go to the Regional Office on Ohio Drive by the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial to look for vacancies.
 
16. Whom do I call for special use permits?

Call our Special Park Use Permits Office at 202-895-6013.
 

17. How do I reserve a picnic grove?

PLEASE NOTE: Important changes to the picnic grove reservation system.

Rock Creek Park picnic grove reservations are no longer being accepted by the DC Department of Parks and Recreation. As of March 1, 2014 all such reservations will be made online at www.recreation.gov. No reservations will be accepted prior to March 1, 2014. Visitors will now be able to choose between full and half day rentals. A change in rates is also pending. The proposed new rate for 2014 will be $25 for a half day, with additional increases proposed over the next three years. These fees will be comparable to similar services throughout the region. The additional revenue and will be used to improve visitor services in the park. Questions may be directed to customer service at www.recreation.gov. For more information contact the Rock Creek Park Permits Office at (202) 895-6013.

Catering is not permitted at Rock Creek Park picnic groves. Port-a-potties are also prohibited.

 

18. Where can I go horse riding? How much does it cost?

You can go horseback riding at the Horse Stables which is located next to the Nature Center. The Horse Stable does not rent horses, they give guided tours that last about an hour and cost $40. They have pony rides for young children at least 30" tall for $20.00. For more information call the Horse stables at 202-362-0118.

Or you may bring your own horse. You may park your trailer at the Nature Center, but please stick to the designated bridle trails.

 
19. How big is the park?

The main section of Rock Creek Park is 1754 acres. In addition to the other green areas the park administers, (Glover Archbold Park, Montrose Park, Dumbarton Oaks Park, Meridian Hill Park, Battery Kemble Park, Palisades Park, Whitehaven Park, etc.) it is over 2,000 acres.
 
20. When was this park created?

The park was created and the land set aside in 1890. It is the oldest natural urban park in the NPS.
 
21. Do you have facilities for birthday parties?

We have no indoor facilities for parties. You may reserve a picnic area through the DC Department of Parks and Recreation and parties can participate with public programs that we give.
 
22. What is the best hiking trail?

They are all good, but my personal favorite is the Western Ridge trail north of Military Road (around the Pinehurst Branch Tributary).
 

23. Where can I have a wedding in Rock Creek Park?


Special Use Permits are issued for small wedding ceremonies of 50 participants or fewer, and only for three different locations in the Park: Old Stone House (garden area only), Montrose Park, and Meridian Hill. Receptions are not allowed in Rock Creek Park.

To hold a wedding in Rock Creek Park, you must first send a letter to the Superintendent requesting permission to hold a wedding in Rock Creek Park. Your letter should include the following information: number of participants, time, location, acknowledgement of the required $200 fee, and a note stating that you will leave the park site in good condition. Also, please include your phone number, a mailing address, an email address, and a check in the amount of $200.00 made out to the National Park Service. Cash and credit cards are not accepted. Please note that the $200 fee is non-refundable. The letter and check should be sent to: Rock Creek Park, Attn. Special Use Permits, 3545 Williamsburg Lane, NW, Washington DC 20008.

The $200 fee covers the cost of processing the permit, monitoring by a park ranger or park police, and a photographer's permit.

Weddings must also meet the following criteria:

1) Have a maximum of 50 participants

2) Last no longer than two hours.

3) May not interfere with other regular park activities.

4) Must occur between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

5) Applications and payment must be received in permits office at least one month in advance of desired ceremony date.

The park does not allow WEDDING RECEPTIONS and Rock Creek Park only provides the site for weddings. Decorations and chairs are not permitted.

If you have any questions, please call the Special Park Uses Ranger at 202-895-6013.

 
The rules and regulations that cover Rock Creek Park are listed in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, Parts 1 to 199 (36CFR) and the Superintendent's Compendium.
 
24. Is my dog allowed in the park?

Yes. However, all dogs and other pets must be on a leash. Also, all visitors and their pets must stay on established park trails.
 
25. Can I camp here?

We have no campground facilities in the park. You can camp nearby at Prince William Forest Park in VA, Greenbelt Park in MD; and the C&0 Canal NHP in MD.
 

26. Can I have a campfire in the park?

The lighting or maintaining of fires is generally prohibited, except as provided for in the following designated areas or receptacles, and under the conditions noted:

Designated Areas: Fires allowed within fire grates in established picnic areas.

Receptacles Allowed: Individual grills allowed in established picnic groves. Charcoal must be doused with water and disposed of in a trash can after the fire is completely out.

Established Conditions for Fires: Fires allowed unless high fire danger has been declared and public notice given that fires are banned within the park.

(a)(2) The following restrictions are in effect for the use of stoves or lanterns:
Charcoal must be doused with water completely and disposed of in a trash receptacle.

(b) Fires must be extinguished according to the following conditions:
Douse completely with water.

  • Firewood may not be collected within the park.
(c) High fire danger closures will be in effect as noted:
  • When the superintendent declares high fire danger and issues a public notice that fires are banned within the park.
 
27. Can I fish in Rock Creek?

District of Columbia fishing laws and/or regulations apply throughout the park. Commercial fishing is not allowed within the park. Fishing is not allowed on Rock Creek or its tributaries north of the Porter Street bridge on Rock Creek.
 

28. Can I kayak/canoe in Rock Creek Park?

Launching boats is prohibited within Rock Creek Park unless water levels are at least 2 feet deep. Boats are not allowed to go over Peirce Mill Dam under any conditions. Canoes, kayaks or other similar human powered boats are allowed.

Vessels must meet the following size, length or width restrictions:

  • Must be less than 20 feet in length, motors not allowed.
  • Hand launch only
 

29. Can I hold a special event in Rock Creek Park?

Reservation permits required for picnic areas 1, 6,7,8,9,10,13,and 24, and for use of sports fields. Contact the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation at 202.673.7647 for picnic permits and 202.671.2597 for sports permits.

Special Park Use permits required for construction within park land, to stage equipment, to cross park land with cables or other utilities, or to use park land for access to an adjoining site. Contact the Environmental Protection Specialist at 202-895-6000.

The following is a compilation of those activities for which a permit from the superintendent is required:

  • §1.5(d) The following activities related to Public Use Limits:

Weddings are allowed by permit at Meridian Hill Park, Montrose Park, and the gardens of Old Stone House. Fee charged, contact Special Park Use Office at 202.895.6013.

Special events or First Amendment Rights demonstrations require a permit from the NCR Park Programs Office, 202.245.4715.

Groups larger than 10 horses and riders need a free permit from the Special Park Uses office, 202.895.6013.

  • §2.5(e) Research Specimen collection (Collection of plants, fish, wildlife, rocks or minerals)

    Permits for scientific research can be applied for online, at www.science.nature.nps.gov/research. For more information, contact the Natural Resources Office at 202.895.6074.

    Operation of a public address system in connection with a public gathering or special event for which a permit has been issued pursuant to §7.96(g). Amplified sound not allowed in picnic areas. Amplified sound as part of special events must operate within decibel limits specified in permit conditions.
  • §7.96(g) Conduct a sports event, pageant, regatta, public spectator attraction, entertainment, ceremony, and similar events - apply for a permit through the NCR Park Programs Office, 202-245-4715.
  • §7.96(g) Public assemblies, meetings, gatherings, demonstrations, parades and other public expressions of views - apply for a permit through the NCR Park Programs Office, 202-245-4715. Please note that all applications, unless determined to be a First Amendment activity, must be accompanied by a $50.00 payment for initial processing.
  • §7.96(6) Sale or distribution of printed matter that is not solely commercial advertising is only allowed as part of a first amendment a special event, and must follow specifications in permit conditions.
  • §2.62(b) Memorialization (scattering ashes from human cremation) is not allowed within Rock Creek Park.
  • §4.11(a) Exceeding of established vehicle load, weight and size limits. Commercial trucks over ½ ton and busses are prohibited on roadways within Rock Creek Park.
  • §5.3 Engaging in or soliciting any business is not allowed within Rock Creek Park except under the provisions of a permit, contract, or written agreement with the National Park Service.
  • §5.5(a) Commercial filming of motion pictures or television involving the use of professional casts, settings or crews, other than bona fide newsreel or news television requires a permit, apply at the NCR Park Programs Office, 202-245-4715. Application and location fees apply. (b) Still photography of vehicles, or other articles of commerce or models for the purpose of commercial advertising requires a permit, apply at the NCR Park Programs Office, 202-245-4715. Application and location fees apply.

    (b) Still photography of vehicles, or other articles of commerce or models for the purpose of commercial advertising requires a free permit, apply at the NCR Park Programs Office, 202-245-4715.
  • §5.6(b) Commercial vehicles are prohibited on roadways within Rock Creek Park.
 
30. Can I swim, wade, bathe in Rock Creek?

All Rock Creek Park areas are closed to swimming, bathing and wading by people and pets.
 
31. What is the maximum number of people we can have in a picnic area?

Picnic areas numbered 1, 6,7,8,9,10,13,23,and 24 require a reservation permit and are limited to no more than 75 people. Picnic areas 2,3,4,5,11,12,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22 operate as first-come, first-served, and limited to no more than 25 people. Large group picnics of 25 or more people are not allowed outside of numbered picnic areas unless the superintendent provides an exception in writing. Informal picnics of less than 25 people are allowed in all areas except for Dumbarton Oaks Park, Fort Stevens, and Battleground Cemetery, where no picnicking is allowed.
 
32. Can we have amplified music at our picnic?

Amplified sound is not allowed in picnic areas.
 
33.Can we have a moon bounce at our picnic?

Canopies, tents or shade structures anchored to the ground, awnings or portable pavilions are prohibited except where written permission is obtained from the Superintendent. This includes moon bounces.
 

34. Can I pan for gold in Rock Creek Park?

A recent article in the local Washington, DC press documented the activities of several persons who were panning for gold in Rock Creek Park. It is critical that park visitors understand that any recreational or commercial activity that damages, harms or removes any natural, cultural or archeological resource is illegal. Violators are subject to fines and criminal prosecution by the United States Park Police.

 
And the most frequently asked question on the web site:

35. How can I get a hard copy of the map of Rock Creek Park?

Visit one of our visitor centers and pick one up, or e-mail e-mail us with your address and we will mail you a copy free of charge.

Did You Know?

The Old Stone House

The Old Stone House in Georgetown is one of the oldest homes in Washington, DC. It was built in 1765.