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Why Rock Creek Park is DC's Hidden Gem


What's the one place in DC where you can ride a horse, practice archery, see the stars, hike for hours, and follow the path of a delicate butterfly? Rock Creek Park, one of DC's hidden gems, is one of the nation's most extraordinary parks offering a wealth of experiences as well as more mainstream activities such as running, jogging, cycling and picnicking among its scenic trails. Long, winding Beach Drive is also a popular venue for inline skating with portions closed to vehicles on weekends for added safety. Many native Washingtonians are stunned by the number of activities and programs offered by Rock Creek Park and don't fully take advantage of this oasis in the middle of the city. A visit to Rock Creek Park will make you forget you're even in a city, much less the nation's capital and heartbeat of the government. The park extends 12 miles from the Potomac River to the border of Maryland. Visitors can hike, bike, fish, ride, listen to a concert or attend one of the many special programs designed for both children and adults noted below.

Hike for Miles

  • With more than 32 miles of trails in Rock Creek Park, the possibilities for exploration are endless.
  • The two primary trails include the Western Ridge Trail on the western side of the park (green-blazed) and the Valley Trail (blue-blazed) which parallels Rock Creek and Beach Drive.
  • Stop by the Nature Center to obtain free maps and suggestions for planning your hike

See the Stars

  • The Rock Creek Nature Center at 5200 Glover Road, offers exhibits, guided walks, lectures and live animal demonstrations for children, ages 2-5.
  • The Planetarium, located in the same venue, offers 45-60 minute programs exploring the stars and planets with seasonal features on newsworthy events in the sky
  • The Center is open all year Wednesday - Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm.

Take in a Concert

  • The Carter Barron Amphitheater located at 16th and Colorado Avenue is a 4200-seat outdoor concert venue offering free summer concerts in a beautiful, wooded setting.
  • Concerts are seasonal so check the schedule for the latest series of events.
  • Delight in savoring a sumptous picnic as you listen to the first strains of jazz on a balmy August night...

Rock Creek Park is adjacent to many of DC's residential neighborhoods, including Cleveland Park, Crestwood, Forest Hills, and Brightwood.

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