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Rock Creek Park

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Rock Creek Park
Copyright: - US National Park Service
Rock Creek Park
Description - Established on September 27, 1890 Rock Creek Park is one of the oldest national parks in the National Park Service. It is also one of the largest forested urban parks in the United States, containing a wide variety of natural, historical, and recreational features in the midst of Washington, DC. There are opportunities for picnicking, hiking, biking, skating, horseback riding, tennis and golf. The main visitor center is the Nature Center, which contains a Planetarium, and is the focal point for activities related to the park's natural history. The area's cultural history can be studied through the Old Stone House (the oldest house in Washington), Pierce Mill (a gristmill where corn and wheat were ground into flour using water power from Rock Creek) and the remains of Civil War earthen fortifications, including Fort Stevens, the site of the only battle within the District of Columbia during the Civil War. The picturesque valley of Rock Creek is especially beautiful in the spring but this 2,820 acre forest, within 5 miles of the White House, offers a quiet respite from the bustle of urban life all year long for both Washingtonians and visitors to the Nation's Capital.

Attractions - Rock Creek Park includes Battleground National Cemetery, Meridian Hill, Pierce Mill, The Old Stone House, Horse Center, Nature Center and more. A wide variety of recreation pursuits accommodate all ages and abilities. Rangers lead a variety of interpretive programs that range from natural history, historical (colonial, milling and civil war), recreational and astronomy. For educators, the rangers offer a variety of educational programs. Call the Nature Center at 202-426-6828 for more information and to make reservations. The Carter Barron Amphitheater offers concerts and Shakespearean theater during the summer months. Rock Creek has a variety of paved bicycle paths. One of which runs from the Lincoln Memorial through the park and into Maryland. Memorial Bridge connects it to the Mount Vernon Trail in Virginia. Other bicycle trails near the Rock Creek Trail are the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park towpath in Georgetown and the Capital Crescent trail in Georgetown and Bethesda, Maryland. Beach Drive between Military and Broad Branch roads is closed to cars from 7 AM Saturday to 7 PM Sunday and on holidays for bicycling, hiking, jogging, and rollerblading. Rock Creek Park has 30 picnic areas throughout the park; some have rain shelters. Many can be reserved for groups up to 100. Reservations must be made in person at the DC Department of Parks and Recreation at 3149, 16th St., NW. Call 202-673-7646 for more information. The large recreation field at 16th and Kennedy Streets, NW has room for many activities. Some of the fields, which are suitable for soccer, football, and field hockey, can be reserved through the DC Department of Recreation. Call 202-767-8363 for information. The 15 soft-surface and 10 hard-surface tennis courts at 16th and Kennedy Streets, NW must be reserved through Guest Services, Inc. The courts are open from April through mid-November. A fee is charged. For the rest of the year, the 10 hard-surface courts are available free on a first-come, first-served basis. Six soft-surface courts are located off Park Road, just east of Pierce Mill. Make reservations for these courts through the Washington Area Tennis Patrons in person at the courts; open May through September. A fee is charged. The courts at Montrose Park are free. An extensive system of trails and paths cover Rock Creek Park and outlying areas such as Glover Archbold Park. These trails are maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club consisting of a blue-blazed trail that follows the east side of the creek, a green-blazed trail that follows the western ridge of the park and tan-blazed connector trails. For physical fitness enthusiasts, a 1.5-mile exercise course begins near Calvert Street and Connecticut Avenue. For the horse rider, 13 miles of wide, dirt and gravel bridle trails crisscross the northern section of the park. Near picnic area 25, off of Glover Road is an Equitation field. Horseback riding lessons and guided trail rides are available at the Rock Creek Park Horse Center. There are also plenty of opportunities for rollerblading at leisure or partaking in one of many competitive events. Special use permits granted include large group picnicking ($25) and weddings ($200).

Recreation - Hiking the forest trails, horseback riding, biking on designated trails, picnicking, golf, tennis, fitness trails, running and jogging are some of the recreations enjoyed at Rock Creek.

Climate - Washington, D.C. experiences four distinct seasons. Winters can be bitterly cold or pleasantly mild while summers can be miserably hot and humid or agreeably warm. The average January temperature is 37 degrees F (3 degrees C). The average July temperature is 78 degrees F (26 degrees C). Spring and fall are pleasant times of the year to visit the area, temperatures are mild with low humidity.

Location - Located near downtown Washington, DC, take the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway north to Beach Drive. Exit onto Beach Drive, north, and take it to Broad Branch Road. Make a left and then a right onto Glover Road, follow the signs to the Nature Center.

Pierce Mill is easily accessible from Beach Drive, west on Tilden Street, cross the bridge and turn right into the parking lot. From Connecticut Avenue, east on Tilden Street to bottom of hill, turn left into parking lot.

Old Stone House is accessible from M street in Georgetown, between 30th and 31st Streets.

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More Information

Contact Information:
Rock Creek Park, 3545 Williamsburg Lane, NW , Washington, DC, 20008, Phone: 202-426-6828, Fax: 202-282-7612
, ROCR_superintendent@nps.gov

Additional Information:
Parks and Gardens -

Rock Creek Park - Official agency website.


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