Fort Washington Park

Fort Washington Park

Picturesque Fort Washington sits on high ground overlooking the Potomac River and offers a grand view of Washington and the Virginia shoreline.

Today, only one silent gun stands behind the masonry wall-the last armament of the powerful fort that once guarded the water approach from the Chesapeake Bay to our Nation's Capital. When ocean-going warships had wood sides and carried smoothbore cannons, no enemy would attempt to ascend the river before destroying the fort.

Changing technology eventually made the fort useless, but the army adapted the site to other uses, leaving a rich history of service to our country and the Nation's Capital.

Today, the 341 acre park, a unit of the National Park System, preserves the original fort and a lighthouse and offers an assortment of recreational opportunities - picnicing, hiking, biking, a playground, and chances to view wildlife along the Potomac.

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Image Credit: Fort Washington Park

Hours

The Visitor Center and Historic Fort are open daily 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

The park grounds are open 8:00-sunset at all times.

Closed January 1, Thanksgiving, and December 25

(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

Fees are collected from May through October.

7-day Basic Entrance Fee:

$10.00 per private* vehicle
$7.00 per motorcycle
$3.00 per individual: any person walking in, a bus passenger, or riding a bike.

Activities

Fort Washington Park offers a number of picnic areas, trails, a Visitor Center, and the Historic Fort built 1814-1824. Park offers interpretive programs including living history artillery demonstrations the first Sunday of every month from April – October,  and weekend Ranger talks in the summer.

Facilities

The park has a visitor center, picnic areas (including group reservation areas), restrooms and hiking trails.

History

On the morning of August 27, 1814, the American soldiers at Fort Washington saw a British navy squadron coming up the Potomac River. Three days earlier, they had watched the British burn Washington. Now, they heard reports that the British army was closing in on them, too. Believing the British intended to destroy Fort Washington, the Americans blew up and abandoned the garrison. The British squadron sailed by and headed toward Alexandria, which surrendered. Capt. Samuel Dyson, Fort Washington’s commander, was relieved of his command. He was found guilty of abandoning his post and destroying government property. A new fort, completed in 1824, was remodeled again in the lead-up to the Civil War and played an important role in protecting Washington.

Weather

Last updated: March 05, 2018
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