Entrance fees for the Great Falls area at both Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (Md.) and Great Falls Park (Va.) will increase on Jan. 1, 2020 as part of the National Park Service’s ongoing efforts to address infrastructure needs and improve future visitor experiences.
The fee schedule will change according to the following:
Passes purchased at either park are valid at both parks.
All money collected from entrance fees remains in the National Park Service, with at least 80 percent retained locally at C&O Canal and the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
“Entrance fees collected are returned directly to the parks and help the National Park Service address deferred maintenance needs to improve the visitor experience,” C&O Canal Acting Superintendent John Noel said. “Both C&O Canal and Great Falls Park, a site within George Washington Memorial Parkway, use fee money to directly benefit visitors such as offering educational programs, taking care of trails and buildings and being good stewards of the parks’ nature and history.”
During the past two years, entrance fees have supported many projects along the C&O Canal and Great Falls Park including:
● Rehabilitation of the Netherlands Carillon
● Rehabilitation of Locks 3 and 4 at the C&O Canal
● Rehabilitation of restrooms at both parks
● Rehabilitation of Lock 2 of the Potomack Canal at Great Falls Park
● Rehabilitation of Swains Lockhouse for the Canal Quarters Program at C&O Canal
● Milling and paving of the northern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway
● Student Conservation Association youth maintenance crews to mow grass, clear culverts and remove vegetation on the western sections of C&O Canal
Anyone with a Great Falls Annual Park Pass can access both the Virginia and Maryland side of the Potomac River and it pays for itself in two visits, allowing visitors to enjoy daily changes in the river levels and the seasonal changes in the park. The annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks.
There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, active duty members of the U.S. military, fourth grade students and disabled citizens.
Visitors may also enjoy five entrance fee-free days in 2020. On these significant days of celebration or commemoration, all national parks will waive entrance fees. The dates for 2020 are:
● Monday, Jan. 20 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
● Saturday, April 18 – First Day of National Park Week/National Junior Ranger Day
● Tuesday, Aug. 25 – National Park Service Birthday
● Saturday, Sept. 26 – National Public Lands Day
● Wednesday, Nov. 11 – Veterans Day