Spend The Night Along The Chesapeake And Ohio Canal

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Date: April 19, 2012
Contact: Peggie Gaul , 301-491-1743

Greater Washington DC area, MD, PA, VA, and WV - Spending a night in a national park is an unforgettable experience. Nearly forty (40) designated camping sites and five (5) historic lock houses located within the 184.5 mile Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience natural and cultural resources while spending the night in a national park.

For individuals who are hiking or biking along the C&O Canal, hiker-biker campsites are located every six (6) to eight (8) miles.They offer a free stay of one (1) night per sight, per trip. Hiker-biker campsites accommodate a maximum of two (2) tents and eight (8) people per site and are accessible only by walking or biking along the towpath. Larger groups and those wishing to drive to a campsite may stay at one of the park's drive-in campgrounds, located at McCoy's Ferry, Fifteen Mile Creek, Paw Paw Tunnel, and Spring Gap. Drive-in campground fees are $10 per site, per night for individuals or groups of up to eight (8) people or $20 per site, per night for larger groups with a maximum of thirty five (35) people. Camping is permitted year round at designated sites only. All campsites are first come, first serve.

Marsden Tract Camping, located at Milepost 11, is reserved for civic and scout organizations. An advance permit is required and can be obtained by calling the Great Falls Fee Office at (301) 767-3731. There is no parking available at Marsden Tract.Overnight parking is permitted ONLY at Great Falls (entrance fee charged), Angler's and Carderock Recreation Area.

All campsites offer a chemical toilet, potable water (seasonal), picnic tables and grill. Water pumps, located at each campsite, are available from April 15 to November 15 each year. Please note: occasionally water may be inaccessible due to low water levels or as a result of poor water quality samples. It is important to plan ahead and ensure you have a backup source of water at all times.

Fires at campsites are restricted to grills and fire rings provided or in portable grills positioned off the ground. Coals must be extinguished and removed from the park. Visitors are responsible for properly extinguishing all fires prior to leaving the campsite. Following are a few guidelines: First, allow wood to burn completely to ash. Pour plenty of water on the ashes; drown ALL embers, not just the red ones. Pour water on the fire until hissing sounds stop. Next, stir the campfire ashes and embers with a shovel. Scrape the sticks and logs to remove any embers. Stir and make sure all materials are wet and cold to the touch. If you do not have water available, use dirt to extinguish the fire. Mix enough dirt or sand with the embers until all materials are cool to the touch. If embers are too hot to touch, they are too hot to leave!Do not attempt to bury the fire, as it will continue to smolder and could lead to a wildfire.

Currently, there is a high fire probability due to dry, warm weather. It is important visitors ensure their safety and the safety of others by adhering to fire bans and consulting with park staff if they are unsure of how to properly extinguish a fire. Firewood may be collected from dead and down material on the ground but may not be removed from the campsite. Firewood may not be brought into the park because of the danger of transporting hazardous insects and disease.

In addition to camping, two youth hostels located near the canal provide outdoor travelers with dormitory accommodations and cooking facilities for inexpensive overnight lodging.They are Washington International Youth Hostel, 250 beds (202)737-2333, located at Milepost 0 and Harpers Ferry Youth Hostel, 40 beds (301)834-7652, located at Milepost 59.

Another unique way to experience the C&O Canal is to spend the night in one of the park's historic lock houses and experience a unique interpretive program, Canal Quarters. Now, for the first time ever, you can stay overnight in a lockhouse and experience life as it may have been during a bygone era on the C&O Canal. Five lock houses along the towpath have been rehabilitated and furnished to evoke different eras in the canal's history. Find more information, or register to spend the night by visiting the C&O Canal Trust website http://www.canaltrust.org/quarters/

Whether it's your first time to visit the C&O Canal or you are a regular visitor, a variety of year-round activities and programs appeal to all ages and interests. For a complete listing of activities and camping information please visit the C&O Canal's website www.nps.gov/choh or contact park headquarters at 301-739-4200.


Last updated: May 10, 2016

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