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National Parks in D.C. Back to Top
Baltimore-Washington Parkway
Opened in 1954, the parkway is a 29-mile scenic highway that connects Baltimore, Maryland with Washington, D.C. The part of the parkway from Washington, D.C. to Fort Meade, Maryland is managed by the National Park Service. Although the first concept of Parkway design was envisioned by Pierre L'Enfant in his 18th century plan, the concept of a parkway in Washington, D.C. was not approved until 1902. At that time, Parkways were designed for use by bicyclists and horse-drawn carriages.
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
The C&O Canal follows the route of the Potomac River for 184.5 miles from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, MD. The canal operated from 1828-1924 as a transportation route, primarily hauling coal from western Maryland to the port of Georgetown in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of original structures, including locks, lockhouses, and aqueducts, serve as reminders of the canal's role as a transportation system during the Canal Era. In addition, the canal's towpath provides a nearly level, continuous trail through the spectacular scenery of the Potomac River Valley. Every year millions of visitors come to hike or bike the C&O Canal in order to enjoy the natural, cultural, and recreational opportunities available.
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network
First thoughts of the Chesapeake Bay often bring up images of crabs and oysters. But, as the largest estuary in North America, the Chesapeake Bay has touched and influenced much of the American story – early settlement, commerce, the military, transportation, recreation and more. The Bay and its surrounding 64,000 square mile watershed hold a treasure trove of historic areas, natural wonders and recreational opportunities. Experience the diversity of the Chesapeake Bay through the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network – a system of over 120 parks, refuges, museums, historic communities and water trails in the Bay watershed. Each of these sites tells a piece of the vast Chesapeake story.
George Washington Memorial Parkway
The George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) preserves the natural scenery along the Potomac River. It connects the historic sites from Mount Vernon, where Washington lived, past the nation's capital, which he founded, and to the Great Falls of the Potomac where the President demonstrated his skill as an engineer. Developed as a memorial to George Washington, the Parkway may be used on any day to travel to exciting historical, natural, and recreational areas. These places are all linked by this planned and landscaped road, the first section of which was completed in 1932 to commemorate the bicentennial of George Washington's birth. Considered a commuter route by many local residents, the GWMP offers the traveler much more than convenience. It is a route to scenic, historic and recreational settings offering respite from the urban pressures of metropolitan Washington. It also protects the Potomac River shoreline and watershed. The parkway provides a pleasant day from Mount Vernon to Great Falls, passing through the same lands George Washington frequently traveled by horse. The Parkway links a group of parks that provide a variety of experiences to millions of people each year.
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
Five trails are currently recognized as segments of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail: - the 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail between Ohiopyle and Seward, Penn., managed by Laurel Ridge State Park, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; - the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage between Cumberland, Md., and Ohiopyle and between Pittsburgh, Penn., and Ohiopyle, managed by an alliance of organizations and agencies; - the 184.5-mile C & O Canal Towpath between Georgetown (in the District of Columbia) and Cumberland, Md., managed by Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park; and - the 17-mile Mount Vernon Trail and the 10-mile Potomac Heritage Trail in northern Virginia, managed by George Washington Memorial Parkway.


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