Want to spend a night under the stars at the C&O Canal? Then you've come to the right place! The C&O Canal is a 184.5 mile long linear park stretching between Washington, DC, and Cumberland, Maryland. It is about a 4 hour drive end to end.
Starting in spring 2023, the well water in hiker-biker campsites will be signed non-potable. Water from wells at paid campgrounds will remain potable and safe for drinking, cooking, or washing.
To ensure that there is a more reliable water source for visitors in the park and due to testing and treatment requirements and current staffing levels, the park is only able to maintain potable water a targeted number of wells in fee campgrounds. Visitors will need to bring their own water supply or water sanitizing equipment to treat well water before use. The wells will remain in the hiker-biker campsites and, as long as visitors bring their own sanitization equipment, there will be a more reliable water source as handles will not be removed from these wells.
Drive-In Campgrounds: Well water within the drive-in campgrounds is potable and treated with iodine - do NOT drink if you have any iodine allergies or if you are on medication for an overactive thyroid. In general, well water is clean and able to be used without additional treatment. However, as a general precaution for wells located in a flood zone, you are advised to boil or treat the water before use for your own protection.
Hiker-Biker Campsites: Non-potable water is available in hiker-biker campsites. Please plan to filter, chemically treat, or boil the water before use for your own protection. The wells will remain in the hiker-biker campsites and, as long as visitors bring their own sanitization equipment, there will be a more reliable water source as handles will not be removed from these wells.
Visitor Centers, park buildings, and comfort stations are provided water by the nearby municipality and do not require drinking water sampling by the park. Please note that the Swains Lock campsite draws on the same municipal water as the Swains Lockhouse and will remain potable.
Water availability is subject to change. Always bring plenty of water with you as a backup option. Please plan your trip accordingly.
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Last updated: April 12, 2023