Stretching 184.5 miles from Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood to Cumberland, Maryland, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is a reminder of the country’s pre-railroad era when coal, lumber and grain were moved in barges pulled by mules. The canal and its 74 lift locks operated from 1850 to 1924, linking East coast industrial centers with what was then considered the “West” — Ohio. It was made a national historic park in 1971, and is beloved by Washingtonians, many of whom spend weekends biking and hiking along its towpath.
In lower Georgetown, visitors can experience what life was like for working families along the canal by jumping aboard one of the National Park Service’s “living history” boat rides. The boats are pulled by mules and cruise through locks where you’ll rise eight feet as the water rushes in to lift the boat. Park rangers in period dress man the boats and field questions about life on the canal in the 1800s. (The boat rides are not currently operating due to a construction project. Check here for updates.)
C&O Canal National Historical Park offers a variety of park ranger programs and visitor activities throughout the park. Click here for current information.
Due to ongoing construction projects, it is a good idea to check the current park conditions here before planning a visit. For more information on the restoration and construction projects, click here.
For more, visit www.nps.gov/choh/index.htm
C&O National Historic Park
Hours: The park is open during daylight hours. Some of the park’s six visitor centers operate on a seasonal schedule. Click here for current hours of operation.
Parking: Click here for directions and parking information for each of the six visitor centers.
Metrorail: The Orange and Blue Line stops for Foggy Bottom-GWU are closest to Georgetown, but it’s a good walk.
Rock Creek Park