Frequently Asked Questions

 

Answers

1.) How can I get a hard copy of the map of Rock Creek Park?

Hard copies of maps are available outside the Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium located at 5200 Glover Road NW, Washington, DC.

If you would prefer to have a copy mailed to you, you can contact us via email or by phone at (202)895-6000 and request one.
 
2. How do I get to a visitor center and what are their hours?

Rock Creek Park has three visitor centers. Each site is in a different area of the park and has its own page for directions and hours.

Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium

Old Stone House

Peirce Mill
 
3. How big is the park?

The main section of Rock Creek Park is 1754 acres. In addition to the other green areas (like traffic circles and small "pocket parks" the park administers Glover Archbold Park, Montrose Park, Dumbarton Oaks Park, Meridian Hill Park, Battery Kemble Park, Palisades Park and Whitehaven Park. This means Rock Creek Park and the satellite sites cover almost 3,000 acres of land in Washington, DC.
 
4. 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.
 
5. When is Rock Creek Park open?

The park is open during daylight hours.

For other park hours or for visitor center hours, visit the Operating Hours and Seasons page
 
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 NW 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 NW and Sherill Drive NW are also closed weekends and federal holidays.

Check the park Alerts and Conditions page for other closures.
 
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. 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.
 
9. Is my dog allowed in the park?

Yes. However, all dogs and other pets must be on a leash at all times in the park. For additional information on how you and your pet can enjoy Rock Creek Park, visit the Pets page.
 
10. Can I camp here?

We have no campground facilities in the park. You can camp nearby at Prince William Forest Park in VA, Greenbelt Park in MD; and the C&0 Canal NHP in MD.
 

11. Can I have a campfire in the park?

The lighting or maintaining of fires is generally prohibited, except as provided for in the following designated areas or receptacles, and under the conditions noted:

Designated Areas: Fires allowed within fire grates in established picnic areas.

Receptacles Allowed: Individual grills allowed in established picnic groves. Charcoal must be doused with water and disposed of in a trash can after the fire is completely out.

Established Conditions for Fires: Fires allowed unless high fire danger has been declared and public notice given that fires are banned within the park.

(a)(2) The following restrictions are in effect for the use of stoves or lanterns:
Charcoal must be doused with water completely and disposed of in a trash receptacle.

(b) Fires must be extinguished according to the following conditions:
Douse completely with water.

  • Firewood may not be collected within the park.
(c) High fire danger closures will be in effect as noted:
  • When the superintendent declares high fire danger and issues a public notice that fires are banned within the park.
 
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.
 

15. How do I schedule a program?

Education programs are available at the Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium, Peirce Mill and Old Stone House. A full list of programs available to be scheduled by educators is available on our Education page.

Programs can be scheduled between Wednesday-Friday. Programs last no longer than an hour. Call the Rock Creek Park Nature Center at 202-895-6070 and speak with a ranger to schedule a program or for more information.

 
16. 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 send a message via e-mail us
 

17. Can I hold a special event in Rock Creek Park?

Yes, but you might need a special use permit.

Special Park Use permits are required for large group activities in the park. These include, but are not limited to: First Amendment demonstrations, parades, weddings, sporting events, pageants, regattas and large group events.

 
18. Whom do I call for special use permits?

Call our Special Park Use Permits Office at 202-895-6013.

You may be directed to call the NCR Park Programs Office, 202-245-4715 to submit an application.
 

19. How do I reserve a picnic grove?

Rock Creek Park picnic grove reservations may be made online at www.recreation.gov or by phone at 1-877-444-6777 (10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. ET).

The following picnic groves require reservations for picnics between May 1 and November 30: 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13 and 24.

Reservations are by the half day. A half day is from either 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (or dark whichever comes first).

Keep in mind that g
roups that will be transported by bus may only reserve picnic groves 1 and 24, which are served by wider city streets that can accommodate oversized vehicles.


Review our picnic regulations [PDF]. Catering is not permitted at Rock Creek Park picnic groves. Port-a-potties are also prohibited.

 
20. 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, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29 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.
 
22. 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!
 

23. How many deer, raccoons, foxes, coyote or bears are there in the park?

In 1987, a population of white-tailed deer decided to make their home here year round. Since then, the population has been increasing—they have no real enemies to control their population other than cars—and have caused a marked decline in forest regeneration. Rock Creek Park currently manages deer populations to promote a healthy and diverse forest that supports native vegetation and wildlife, including deer. Learn more about deer management efforts in Rock Creek 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!

 

24. Can I pan for gold in Rock Creek Park?

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.

 

35. Where can I park my boat? Non-commercial boats can dock at Washington Harbour anytime from 6am to midnight (first come-first served). Commercial vessels (i.e., fee-based services such as water taxis, tourboats, fishing charters, private tours, etc.) must obtain a Commercial Use Authorization from Rock Creek Park (docking for commercial boats is limited to 20 mins docking for loading/unloading passengers only). Washington Harbour is privately owned property, but NPS has a scenic easement at this location (which includes the dock).

 
25. Where Can I park my boat?

Motorized boats can be parked along the boardwalk at Washington Harbour between Thompson Boat Center and Georgetown Waterfront Park.
21. What is not allowed at my picnic area?

Picnic reservations are for the pavilion only. There can be no generators or amplified music. Recreational activities are allowed as long as nets and goals are freestanding. No pop up canopies, secondary tents, moon bounces due to the need for them to be anchored into the ground for safety reasons. Alcohol is prohibited.

Last updated: March 7, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

5200 Glover Rd, NW
Washington, DC 20015

Phone:

(202) 895-6000
Rock Creek Park's main phone line.

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