Rules and Regulations

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Please see the following list of rules and regulations in Rock Creek Park. If you have further questions, please 202-895-6000 during business hours (Monday through Friday) to speak with a park representative.

Additional rules and regulations apply. Please see the Code of Federal Regulations and the Superintendent's Compendium for more information.
 
 

General

  • Most of the park is open from sunrise to sunset. However, a few places managed by Rock Creek Park have different hours.

  • Traffic is permitted 24 hrs./day in areas where park roads are open.
    • Trucks and buses are prohibited on park roads.
    • Bicycles are permitted on paved trails and paved roads only.

  • Park only in designated areas--not on road shoulders, in the grass, or in roadways.

  • Overnight camping is not allowed in Rock Creek Park.
  • Pets must be leashed at all times.

  • Use trash cans provided or take your trash home to help keep the park clean.

  • Hike only on official park trails to protect plants and animals.

  • Horses are permitted on established horse trails within the park. More information can be found at the Horse Center.

  • All park areas are closed to swimming, wading, and bathing by people and household pets.
  • Alcoholic beverages are prohibited from all park areas administered by Rock Creek Park, except Carter Barron Amphitheater, Rock Creek Park Golf Course Clubhouse, and Rock Creek Tennis Stadium.
  • Do not attach ribbons, posters, balloons, or directional signs to any park object, either natural or man‐made. Balloons are prohibited in Rock Creek Park.
 

Picnics

  • Reservations are required for picnic areas 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, and 24 from May-November. Reservations can be made at www.recreation.gov and are are limited to no more than 75 people*. These sites are first-come, first-served from December-April.
  • All other picnic areas in Rock Creek Park operate as first-come, first-served, and limited to no more than 25 people.
  • Picnicking is not allowed in Dumbarton Oaks Park, Fort Stevens, or Battleground Cemetery.
  • Tables and benches are not to be moved from one picnic site to another.

General Picnic Area Rules

  • You are responsible for cleaning up after your event. Please bring extra plastic or paper trash bags to your event. Place bags of trash in the trash containers or beside the containers if the containers are full. Please recycle when possible.
  • Permit holders must furnish their own firewood and/or charcoal. Collection of wood in the park is prohibited. Fires may only be built in the grills provided. Fires may be prohibited during dry seasons.
  • Do not dump used charcoal or ashes on the ground or in the woods. Place ashes in the existing stone fireplaces or trash receptacles when COMPLETELY extinguished.
  • Your picnic grove site is subject to inspection by a park ranger and/or U.S. Park Police before and after your gathering. The permit holder is expected to leave the site in clean condition. If not left in satisfactory condition, the National Park Service may recover the cost of cleaning the picnic area from the permit holder.
  • The permit holder is responsible for any damage to National Park Service property that occurs as a result of the picnic gathering.
  • Commercial activities are prohibited on National Park Service property. Commercial catering is not permitted on park grounds.
  • Solicitation, collection of money, and collection of personal information are prohibited on National Park Service property.
  • Parking is permitted in designated paved areas only. Vehicles are prohibited from driving or parking on the grass. The permit holder is responsible for turf damage. Parking is limited within the park and is not guaranteed by this permit. Parking areas are not reserved and must remain open to the public at all times.
  • Tables and benches are not to be moved from one picnic site to another.
  • The permit holder's use of the picnic grove may not interfere with other park visitors' use of nearby playground equipment, parking spaces, restroom facilities, or tables and benches outside the picnic grove area.
  • Specialized recreation equipment, mechanical or carnival rides, such as moon bounces, rides using livestock, petting zoos, and/or displays using live animals are prohibited in Rock Creek Park.
  • Electric generators and amplified sound systems at picnics are prohibited.
  • Volleyball and badminton nets are permitted only if they are self‐supporting. The nets may not be tied to trees, shrubs, or any other natural or built feature in the park. Supports for the nets may not be driven into the ground. Softball, soccer, kickball and similar activities are permitted in areas adjacent to the picnic groves. However, only temporary goals, bases, backstops, and similar activity equipment may be used.
  • Tents and canopies are prohibited except where written permission is obtained from the Superintendent. Failure to observe the above regulations and additional park regulations attached to a picnic permit may result in a citation and/or permit revocation.

Bills for Damage

  • The permit holder is responsible for any damages to government property or for any costs incurred by the National Park Service or U.S. Park Police resulting from a permit holder’s event. The National Park Service will issue a Bill of Collection for costs incurred due to vandalism, negligence, or other actions by a permitted group or individuals in the group.

Travel

  • Except on federal holidays, Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway traffic is one way southbound from 6:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on weekdays. Also, except for federal holidays, Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway traffic is one way northbound from 3:45 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. on weekdays. The parkway has two‐way traffic at all other times, including weekends.
  • Beach Drive between Military Road NW and Broad Branch Road NW is closed to cars from 7:00 a.m. Saturday through 7:00 p.m. Sunday, as well as 7:00 a.m. through 7:00 p.m. on federal holidays. Use caution on weekends, driving on Beach Road between Military Road NW and Picnic Grove 10, as many other park visitors use this section for bicycling, hiking, walking, jogging, and skating.

COMMERCIAL VEHICLES, BUSES, AND TRUCKS

  • Commercial vehicles, buses, and trucks are prohibited on all park roads without a permit. Permits can be obtained by contacting the Park Headquarters at 202‐895‐6013 or by writing: Rock Creek Park, Attn: Special Use Permits, 3545 Williamsburg Lane, NW, Washington, DC 20008
  • Groups that will be transported by bus may only reserve Picnic Grove 1 and Picnic Grove 24, which are served by wider city streets that can accommodate oversized vehicles. Buses traveling to Grove 1 must enter and leave via Connecticut Avenue NW and Tilden Street NW. Buses traveling to Grove 24 must enter and leave via the 16th Street NW and Colorado Avenue NW entrance to the Carter Barron Amphitheater parking lots.

Safety

  • Bees and other stinging insects are most active from July through October. Cover all food, including drinks. Avoid wearing cologne or perfume or using scented lotions or shampoos. It is recommended that you wear neutral‐colored clothing.
  • Obey all safety regulations and posted signs in Rock Creek Park. Do not approach any wild animals or any unfamiliar domestic animals.
  • Do not walk on the dam or fish ladder at Peirce Mill.25. Supervise children using playground equipment. Report vandalism, damaged equipment, or safety concerns to the Park Superintendent’s Office at (202) 895‐6004 weekdays 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. In an emergency, contact U.S. Park Police at (202) 610‐7500.

Fires and Burning

  • Fires are only permitted within fire grates in designated picnic areas.
  • You will have to bring your own grill and fuel.
    • Firewood may not be collected within the park.
  • Fires are allowed unless high fire danger has been declared and a public notice has been issued about a fire ban within the park.

  • For stoves, fires, and lanterns, all charcoal must be doused with water and disposed of in a trash receptacle once the fire is completely out.

Special Use Permits

  • Additional information regarding permits and reservations is available on the Permits page or call the National Capital Area Park Programs office at (202) 245-4715.
  • The permit holder's use of the picnic grove may not interfere with other park visitors' use of nearby playground equipment, parking spaces, restroom facilities, or tables and benches outside the picnic grove area.
  • Your picnic grove site is subject to inspection by a park ranger and/or U.S. Park Police before and after your gathering. The permit holder is expected to leave the site in clean condition. If not left in satisfactory condition, the National Park Service may recover the cost of cleaning the picnic grove from the permit holder.
  • The permit holder is responsible for any damages to government property or for any costs incurred by the National Park Service or U.S. Park Police resulting from the permit holder’s event. The National Park Service will issue a Bill of Collection for costs incurred due to vandalism, negligence or other actions by a permitted group or individuals in the group.
  • Still photography of vehicles, or other articles of commerce or models for the purpose of commercial advertising requires a permit. Application and location fees apply.
  • Sale or distribution of printed matter that is not solely commercial advertising is only allowed as part of a first amendment special event and must follow specifications in permit conditions.
  • Engaging in or soliciting any business is not allowed within Rock Creek Park except under the provisions of a permit, contract, or written agreement with the National Park Service.
 

Unmanned Aircraft

Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft from or on lands and waters administered by the Naitonal Park Service within the boundaries of Rock Creek Park is prohibited.

 
 

Natural Resources

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.

  • All natural and cultural objects are protected by law. Do not collect or disturb rocks, animals, or plants. Let wildflowers grow. Do not remove trees, even dead ones, for firewood.

  • 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.
  • All hunting, trapping, or removing wildlife from Rock Creek Park is prohibited.
  • You may not pan for gold in Rock Creek Park.

Boating

  • Launching boats is prohibited within Rock Creek Park unless water levels are at least 2 feet deep, which is incredibly rare. Most of the time, boating is not allowed on the creek itself.

  • Boats are not allowed to go over Peirce Mill Dam under any conditions.

  • Canoes, kayaks, or other similar human-powered boats are allowed.

  • Vessels must be less than 20 feet in length.

  • Motors are not allowed.

  • Hand-launch only.

Carter Barron Amphitheater

Carter Barron Amphitheater has its own set of rules and regulations.

 
 

Last updated: July 27, 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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