Fort Dupont Park

Fort Dupont Park

Fort Dupont Park was one of several historic sites that defended Washington, DC from Confederate attack during the Civil War. Today, there are no remains of the actual fort, but the 400-acre site is one of the city’s largest parks and protects an important sub-watershed of the Anacostia River. Fort Dupont Park is a popular place for picnics, nature walks,, gardening, environmental education, music, skating, sports, and ranger led Civil War programs.

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Main image: Fort Dupont Park

Hours

The grounds of Fort Dupont Park are open all year from dawn to dusk.

During the Summer Concert Series the Park will be open till 10PM. During which time please remember to respect our neighbors and park in designated parking areas at the parking lawn off "F" street, the Ice Skating Arena off Ely street and at the Activity Center. Parking at the Activity Center after 3pm will only be available to those who have a handicap sticker apon arrival. All other areas are subject to parking tickets.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)

Fees

There is no entrance fee for Fort Dupont. There is no fee for picnicking in the following areas, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis: Randle Circle, only in the triangular area between Randle Circle, Minnesota Avenue and Fort Dupont Drive; Ridge Picnic Area off Fort Dupont Drive; Bruce Place, near Battery Ricketts and the Anacostia Museum; Fort Place (in front of the Anacostia Museum); and in Fort Chaplin Park (on Texas Avenue between B and C Streets SE).

Some picnic areas have a fee of $45/half day.

Activities

Picnics, nature walks, Civil War programs, gardening, environmental education, music, skating, sports, and youth programs are among the varied seasonal activities possible at this spacious area east of the Anacostia River.

Facilities

Picnic Areas (some free, some have applicable fees)

Fort Dupont Park features a multipurpose field, tennis courts, a basketball court, and a baseball diamond. All of these fields and courts are located along Ely Place between Minnesota Avenue SE and Ridge Road. In addition, there is a multipurpose field located in Fort Mahan Park (the access road is located across from the corner of 42nd Street, NE and Eads Street, NE). See website for reservation procedures.

Accessibility

Fort Dupont Park and the surrounding Civil War Defenses of Washington sites along the Hiker/Biker Trail consist of over 400 acres of mature wooded forest, 10 miles of unpaved and paved trails, an Activity Center, and a concert stage.

During the Summer Concert series handicap parking is available at the Activity Center parking lot. On Saturdays that the park holds a concert Fort Dupont Drive will close at 3PM and only allow access for those who have a handicap tag.

The Activity Center (in Fort Dupont Park) offers Civil War Defenses of Washington brochures in braille and spanish.

If you would like a sign language interpreter for one of our programs please notify us two weeks in advance.

History

Fort Dupont had six sides, each 100 feet long, protected by a deep moat and trees felled side-by-side with branches pointing outward. It was named for Flag Officer Samuel F. Dupont, who commanded the naval victory at Port Royal, South Carolina, in November 1861.

Although its garrison and guns never saw battle, Fort Dupont served as a lifeline of freedom. Runaway slaves found safety here before moving on to join the growing community of "contrabands" in Washington. The barracks and guns are gone, but the fort's earthworks can still be traced near the picnic area on Alabama Avenue.

In the 1930s, the National Capital Planning Commission acquired the old fort and surrounding land for recreation. A golf course was constructed and as the city grew, golf gave way in 1970 to the sports complex along Ely Place that now includes tennis and basketball courts, athletic fields, and a softball diamond. An indoor ice rink offers skating all winter. Where once soldiers looked out over farmlands, park visitors now grow fruits and vegetables in the community garden.

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Last updated: March 20, 2017
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