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 e-mail 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

Spring 2018

Transportation and History: 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. They will walk through the Mercer and learn about the process of locking a boat through, as well as life on a canal boat, and for those who lived along the canal. Students will also have an opportunity to meet the mules, and learn about them up close.
Location: Great Falls Tavern and Lock 20
Length: 2 hours
Cost: $5 per person

Weathering: S
tudents 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.
Location: Great Falls Tavern and Olmsted Island trail
Length: 2 hours
Cost: $5 per person

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 can participate in pre and post activities that will increase their knowledge about rocks.

Location: Great Falls Tavern and Olmsted Island trail

Length: 2 hours
Cost: $5 per person

Fall 2018

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: 2 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: 2 hours
Cost: $5 per person

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


Ride the Mercer: This program will NOT be available calendar year 2018 due to maintenance projects at Great Falls.

Last updated: January 29, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100
Hagerstown, MD 21740

Phone:

(301) 739-4200

Contact Us