Located just 15 miles from the Nation's capital, the Great Falls of the Potomac (so named by the first European colonists) is considered the most spectacular natural landmark in the DC metropolitan area. Here, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through a narrow gorge.
Great Falls Park stretches along almost 2 miles of the Virginia side of the Potomac providing a series of trails and overlooks from which to view the falls and the gorge. Administered by the National Park Service, Great Falls Park also preserves the remains of the Potowmack Canal.
The canal was initiated by George Washington as a way to link the upper Potomac and the Ohio River Valley to Washington and the Chesapeake. It was later surpassed by the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. Great Falls Park offers numerous recreational activities: bird watching, climbing, cross-country skiing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, nature walks, and whitewater rafting.