Great Falls Canal Boat Rides

Charles F. Mercer replica packet boat in Lock 20

Enjoy a Mule-Drawn Boat Ride

Take a trip back in time to the 1870's! Ride along the historic C&O Canal in a boat pulled by mules. Experience rising 8 feet in a lock. Hear park rangers in period clothing describe what life was like for the people who lived and worked floating on the canal.

Cost: $8.00 for adults (ages 16-61), $6.00 for seniors (ages 62 +), and $5.00 for children (ages 4-15). Children aged three and under ride free.

Purchase tickets and board the boat at the
Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center at 11710 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac, MD 20854.

Ten or more people are required to make advance reservations for the boat ride. Otherwise, seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The Charles F. Mercer boat capacity is 65 people. The boat programs last approximately one hour.

Public Boat Rides Schedule - The Charles F. Mercer will not run in 2018, rides will resume in 2019.

Boat Season Start Date End Date Days Offered Times of Day
Spring April May Saturday and Sunday 11:00 am, 1:30 pm, 3:00 pm
Summer June September Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11:00 am, 1:30 pm, 3:00 pm
Fall September October Saturday and Sunday 11:00 am, 1:30 pm, 3:00 pm

Please call ahead as special circumstances may affect this schedule.


To Reserve Tickets for a group of 10 or more:

During Visitor Center operating hours (Wednesday through Sunday, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm) one of our rangers or volunteers will be happy to assist you with making a reservation on the Charles F. Mercer canal boat at Great Falls. You can call the visitor center at 301-767-3714.

If you call after operating hours, leave a message and you will be contacted by a ranger to confirm the details of your reservation. Please make sure you speak with a ranger before the day of your requested boat tour.

Interested In Bringing a School Group?

Check out our Field Trips webpage for programs both on and off the canal boat.

The Charles F. Mercer is also available for your private event

Call 301-767-3714 for details.


Last updated: February 8, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100
Hagerstown, MD 21740


(301) 739-4200

Contact Us