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Great Falls National Park

Great Falls National Park is located 10 miles north of Washington DC along the Potomac River. The park includes, as the name suggests, a rocky outcrop where the water of the river forms multiple waterfalls. At the same time the Park also encompasses a working section of the old canal built to allow ships to pass the waterfalls, for obvious reasons. On our last day in the area we took the opportunity to visit this great location.

Neither of us have ever seen a canal with working locks in operation so we were quite excited to do the one and a half mile boat ride that included a trip up and down a working lock. The passenger boat was manned by period dressed crewmembers and the boat was towed, just like it would have been in the old days, by two mules. It was a unique and fun trip.

Prior to hopping on the boat we took a stroll to the overlook of the Great Falls. The wooden trail meandered through a hardwood forest and came to a magnificent overlook of the falls. It turns out this area is popular to local kayakers who can ride the eddies at the bottom of the falls. We captured some neat pictures of these folks.

Leaving the National Park we headed back towards DC along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, about 5 miles down the road noticed a sign for a home managed by the National Park Service and open for tours. Out of curiosity we stopped at what turns out to be the first home of the American Red Cross. The Park Rangers led an interesting and insightful tour of the building.

This last trip to DC was a fitting end to our two weeks in the city. By venturing a little off the standard tour package we experienced a unique taste of the area.


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