Great Falls Field Trips

The Great Falls location of the C&O Canal NHP has educational field trips every Spring and Fall. Programs are offered on Tuesdays*, Wednesdays and Thursdays.The address for the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center is 11710 MacArthur Boulevard, Potomac, MD 20854.
*Tuesday programs include all non-boat programs. Boat programs are ONLY available on Wednesday and Thursday.
To schedule a field trip in the Great Falls area, please submit a Field Trip RSVP Form to request a field trip at least two weeks in advance via email or by mail. When your form has been received, you will be contacted by a ranger to reserve and finalize your trip details. For any further questions, email us at cocanaleducation@nps.gov or call us at (301) 714-2213.
As of January 1, 2016 the C&O Canal National Historical Park will charge education program fees for curriculum-based, park-led education programs at Great Falls (Potomac, MD). Fees collected will support the park education program and outreach to new school audiences.No more than $10 will be collected for any day of programs. Please see below a description of programs and costs. Fee waivers are available for Title I schools. Please inquire when you make a reservation.
Elementary Education Programs
Ride the Mercer: Students will explore the history, life, and engineering of the C&O Canal, while uncovering man-made and natural changes to the environment. Through living history and first-hand experience, students will compare past and present to understand what life was like for the people on the C&O Canal, and explore the function and design of technology from the past. Enhance student learning by completing pre- and post-visit activities. This program will NOT be available calendar year 2018 due to maintenance projects at Great Falls.
Location: Great Falls Tavern and Lock 20
Length: 1 hour
Cost: $5 per person
Time in a Tree (STEM): In this activity, students will gain a basic understanding of native trees and plants in the Great Falls area. Students will work in groups to identify, measure, and estimate the height of trees around the Great Falls Tavern. Students will learn about what factors help and hurt a trees development, as well as why trees are important for the world. Enhance student learning by completing pre- and post-visit activities.
Location: Great Falls Tavern
Length: 1.5 hours
Cost: $5 per person
Transportation and Communication: In the Tavern Classroom, students will problem solve to discover the efficiency of transporting goods on a water way during the 19th century. They will analyze the natural resources of different geographic areas to determine the economic value in creating a transportation route along the Potomac River. The hands on discovery and problem solving skills help students understand the life and economics of the time of the canal. Teachers can guide the students in pre and post activities in the classroom to reinforce concepts taught during this program.
Location: Great Falls Tavern
Length: 1.5 hours
Cost: $5 per person

Ecology Walk: Students will increase their understanding of habitats by observing an extensive variety of plants and animals in their natural habitat along the River Trail and Towpath. Students will identify and describe how the habitat meets basic needs of the plants and animals, what adaptations have been made and how invasive species have affected the habitat. Both pre- and post- activities will expand the students understanding and learning.
Location: River Trail and Towpath
Length: 1.5 hours
Cost: $5 per person


Coming Spring 2018

Geology Walk: Students will improve and expand their understanding of how rock formations are formed and how long this process takes. They will experience a hands-on model of how metamorphic rocks are formed. As they walk down the towpath and along the Olmsted Island Trail to the Great Falls Overlook and Potomac Gorge, they will be able to identify evidence in patterns (layers, folding) of the rock formations. Students will participate in pre and post activities that will increase their knowledge about rocks.
Location: Olmsted Island Trail
Length: 1.5 hours
Cost: $5 per person

Weathering and Erosion: Students participating in the weathering program will develop and improve their understanding of the effects of both physical and chemical weathering as well as erosion. Students will engage in viewing a hands-on model of weathering and then hike to the Great Falls Overlook, investigating various examples of weathering and erosion. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the effects of wind, ice and vegetation and the part they play in weathering and erosion. Student learning can be enhanced by participating in pre and post-activities.
Location: Overlook Trail
Length: 1.5 hours
Cost: $5 per person

Secondary Education Programs
Ride the Mercer: Students will explore the history, life, and engineering on the C&O Canal, while uncovering man-made and natural changes to the environment. Through living history and first-hand experience, students will compare the past and present to understand what life was like for the people of the C&O Canal and explore the function and design of technology from the past using primary sources. Enhance student learning by completing pre- and post-visit activities. This program will NOT be available calendar year 2018 due to maintenance projects at Great Falls.
Location: Great Falls Tavern and Lock 20
Length: 1 hour
Cost: $5 per person
Field Observation Notebook and Hike: A self-guided hiking tour of the many fabulous hiking trails in the Great Falls area. Choose from the River Trail (easiest), the Ford Mine Trail (moderate), or the Gold Mine Loop (strenuous). Students will be given field notebooks to record their observations on their hike, and the wildlife that they may encounter! At this time, we do not recommend taking school trips on any of our Billy Goat Trail sections. Ranger led hikes may be available based on staffing. Please inquire about a ranger led hike when you submit your reservation form.
Location: Hiking Trails in Great Falls area
Length: 1-3 hours
Cost: $5 per person

Last updated: September 12, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100
Hagerstown, MD 21740

Phone:

(301) 739-4200

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