A recent article in the local Washington, DC press documented the activities of several persons who were panning for gold in Rock Creek Park. It is critical that park visitors understand that any recreational or commercial activity that damages, harms or removes any natural, cultural or archeological resource is illegal. Violators are subject to fines and criminal prosecution by the United States Park Police.
Frequently Asked Questions
Information on the park and public & school programs?
Rules and Regulations?
And the most frequently asked question on the web site:
For other questions e-mail e-mail us
1. How do I get to the Nature Center? :
2. How do I get to Peirce Mill?
3. How do I get to the Old Stone House?
The Old Stone House at 3051 M Street, NW in Georgetown, directly across from the Barnes and Noble bookstore.
4. Can you please give me directions from public transportation?
The Van Ness Station is the closest metro stop to Peirce Mill, but it is still about a mile away. From Van Ness, walk south on Connecticut Avenue to Tilden Street and make a left. Follow Tilden to the bottom of the hill and the mill is on your left.
Foggy Bottom is the closest metro stop to the Old Stone House, from there walk north to Washington Circle and take Pennsylvania Ave. west to the Old Stone House, about a 1/2 mile.
5. When is Rock Creek Park open?
The park is open during daylight hours.
6. When are Beach Drive and other park roads closed?
Sections of Beach Drive from Broad Branch Road to Military Road and from picnic grove 10 to Wise Road and from West Beach Drive to the DC line are closed on Saturdays, Sundays (7:00 AM Saturday-7:00 PM Sunday), and holidays for bikers, roller bladers, hikers and joggers (On the map they are marked in faint yellow). In addition, Bingham Drive and Sherill Drive are also closed weekends and federal holidays.
7. When is the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway one way?
The Rock Creek Parkway is one way going south from the Connecticut Avenue, between 6:45- 9:30 AM and one way north from 3:45 - 6:30 PM, MONDAY-FRIDAY. All other times, the Parkway is open to both ways of traffic.
8. Why do I see park staff spraying chemicals and cutting plants in the park?
You see our Natural Resources Management staff and park contractors spraying non-native invasive plants found in Rock Creek Park. These plants pose a serious threat to the park's environment and must be managed to protect the native plants and animals found in the park. In 2012, the park published a new brochure, "Invasive, Non-native Plant Species," that is available to the public. The brochure provides information about the threats posed by non-native invasive plants, and ways that park visitors and neighbors can help address the problem. For a copy of the brochure or for additional information, call 202-895-6077.
9. Can I pick plants, berries, mushrooms, take animals home or remove historical items I find in the park?
No, no one may take anything out of the park, unless he or she is a professor or a professional (USGS, Smithsonian, etc.) with a permit (for plants or rocks) and he or she is using the specimen for an educational purpose. Visitors may be fined by Park Police if they are caught. If you see someone with a metal detector at places like Fort DeRussy or hunting for morels, please report these crimes to Park Police immediately!
10. How many deer, raccoons, foxes, coyote or bears are there in the park?
Rock Creek Park has the largest density of raccoons in the United States. We have red and gray fox in the park, but less of the gray fox. Visitors often think that foxes look like large cats or small dogs. Park employees believe that there are six to eight fox dens scattered throughout the park.
Coyote sightings have been reported since May 2004; they were confirmed by staff in September 2004. At least two animals have been seen in Rock Creek Park north of Military Road. See our coyote frequently asked questions page for more information. There are no bears in the park.
Visitors walking along Rock Creek may see signs of beavers (beaver chews on the trees) or on a lucky day, they may even see one!
11. Is the park safe?
Yes, the park is relatively safe. As with any outdoor recreation, your safety will be improved by enjoying your activity with others. If you do plan to go alone, consider leaving your itinerary - including route, times, activity, and clothing description - with someone, and check in with that person before and after your activity.
12. How do I schedule a program?
For Peirce Barn and Mill call 202-895-6070 and talk to a ranger to schedule a program.
For the Old Stone House call 202-895-6070 and talk to a ranger to schedule a program.
13. What's going on with the General Management Plan?
Of the four alternatives presented in the GMP to improve visitor services, administrative functions and traffic management, the NPS has chosen “Alternative A.” This alternative upgrades trails, rehabilitates historic structures and improves the location and condition of visitor facilities. It also continues the weekend and holiday closures of sections of Beach Drive, and allows through traffic on weekdays, using methods to slow traffic and improve traffic safety throughout the park. Alternative A also continues the current weekday rush hour, one-directional flow of all lanes of traffic on the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway.
More information may be found at the NPS Planning, Environment and Public project page at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?parkId=198&projectId=11262
The complete Rock Creek Park General Management plan can be viewed at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=198&projectId=11262&documentID=13218
Further Information will also be available in the
and at the following locations:
14. How do I get on the mailing list for the calendar of events or newsletter?
Call 202-895-6070 and ask to be added to the mailing list or e-mail e-mail us
15. How do I apply for a job?
You can find ways to work with us on our website or yo can go to the Regional Office on Ohio Drive by the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial to look for vacancies.
16. Whom do I call for special use permits?
Call our Special Park Use Permits Office at 202-895-6013.
17. How do I reserve a picnic grove?
The following picnic groves require reservations for events between May 1rst and October 31rst: 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13 and 24.
PLEASE NOTE: Important changes to the picnic grove reservation system.
Rock Creek Park picnic grove reservations are no longer being accepted by the DC Department of Parks and Recreation. As of March 1, 2014 all such reservations will be made online at www.recreation.gov. Visitors may now choose between full and half day rentals. A change in rates has also been approved. The new rate for 2015 will be $45 for a half day and $90 for a full day, with an additional increase proposed for 2016. These fees are comparable to similar services throughout the region. The additional revenue and will be used to improve visitor services in the park. Questions may be directed to customer service at www.recreation.gov. For more information contact the Rock Creek Park Permits Office at (202) 895-6013.
Catering is not permitted at Rock Creek Park picnic groves. Port-a-potties are also prohibited.
18. Where can I go horse riding? How much does it cost?
Or you may bring your own horse. You may park your trailer at the Nature Center, but please stick to the designated bridle trails.
19. How big is the park?
The main section of Rock Creek Park is 1754 acres. In addition to the other green areas the park administers, (Glover Archbold Park, Montrose Park, Dumbarton Oaks Park, Meridian Hill Park, Battery Kemble Park, Palisades Park, Whitehaven Park, etc.) it is over 2,000 acres.
20. When was this park created?
The park was created and the land set aside in 1890. It is the oldest natural urban park in the NPS.
21. Do you have facilities for birthday parties?
We have no indoor facilities for parties. You may reserve a picnic area at www.recreation.gov and parties can participate with public programs that we give.
22. What is the best hiking trail?
They are all good, but my personal favorite is the Western Ridge trail north of Military Road (around the Pinehurst Branch Tributary).
23. Where can I have a wedding in Rock Creek Park?
To hold a wedding in Rock Creek Park, you must first send a letter to the Superintendent requesting permission to hold a wedding in Rock Creek Park. Your letter should include the following information: number of participants, time, location, acknowledgement of the required $200 fee, and a note stating that you will leave the park site in good condition. Also, please include your phone number, a mailing address, an email address, and a check in the amount of $200.00 made out to the National Park Service. Cash and credit cards are not accepted. Please note that the $200 fee is non-refundable. The letter and check should be sent to: Rock Creek Park, Attn. Special Use Permits, 3545 Williamsburg Lane, NW, Washington DC 20008.
The $200 fee covers the cost of processing the permit, monitoring by a park ranger or park police, and a photographer's permit.
Weddings must also meet the following criteria:
1) Have a maximum of 50 participants
2) Last no longer than two hours.
3) May not interfere with other regular park activities.
4) Must occur between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.
5) Applications and payment must be received in permits office at least one month in advance of desired ceremony date.
The park does not allow WEDDING RECEPTIONS and Rock Creek Park only provides the site for weddings. Decorations and chairs are not permitted.
If you have any questions, please call the Special Park Uses Ranger at 202-895-6013.
The rules and regulations that cover Rock Creek Park are listed in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, Parts 1 to 199 (36CFR) and the Superintendent's Compendium.
24. Is my dog allowed in the park?
Yes. However, all dogs and other pets must be on a leash. Also, all visitors and their pets must stay on established park trails.
26. Can I have a campfire in the park?
27. Can I fish in Rock Creek?
District of Columbia fishing laws and/or regulations apply throughout the park. Commercial fishing is not allowed within the park. Fishing is not allowed on Rock Creek or its tributaries north of the Porter Street bridge on Rock Creek.
28. Can I kayak/canoe in Rock Creek Park?
Vessels must meet the following size, length or width restrictions:
29. Can I hold a special event in Rock Creek Park?
Weddings are allowed by permit at Meridian Hill Park, Montrose Park, and the gardens of Old Stone House. Fee charged, contact Special Park Use Office at 202.895.6013.
Special events or First Amendment Rights demonstrations require a permit from the NCR Park Programs Office, 202.245.4715.
Groups larger than 10 horses and riders need a free permit from the Special Park Uses office, 202.895.6013.
30. Can I swim, wade, bathe in Rock Creek?
All Rock Creek Park areas are closed to swimming, bathing and wading by people and pets.
31. What is the maximum number of people we can have in a picnic area?
Picnic areas numbered 1, 6,7,8,9,10,13,23,and 24 require a reservation permit and are limited to no more than 75 people. Picnic areas 2,3,4,5,11,12,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22 operate as first-come, first-served, and limited to no more than 25 people. Large group picnics of 25 or more people are not allowed outside of numbered picnic areas unless the superintendent provides an exception in writing. Informal picnics of less than 25 people are allowed in all areas except for Dumbarton Oaks Park, Fort Stevens, and Battleground Cemetery, where no picnicking is allowed.
32. Can we have amplified music at our picnic?
Amplified sound is not allowed in picnic areas.
33.Can we have a moon bounce at our picnic?
Canopies, tents or shade structures anchored to the ground, awnings or portable pavilions are prohibited except where written permission is obtained from the Superintendent. This includes moon bounces.
And the most frequently asked question on the web site:
35. How can I get a hard copy of the map of Rock Creek Park?
Visit one of our visitor centers and pick one up, or e-mail e-mail us with your address and we will mail you a copy free of charge.