Rock Creek Park in Washington DC

Yesterday I wrote about one of the metro National Park sites in Maryland.  During our very busy last day in DC, Tom and I visited one more park:  Rock Creek Park.  The park is called “the natural heart of the nation’s capital.”  This was the first urban national park, set aside in 1890.

Tom and I started our visit to Rock Creek Park by going to the Nature Center and Planetarium.  Unfortunately the Planetarium was closed for renovations.  But the small Nature Center was interesting and I was able to get the stamps associated with the park.

Rock Creek Park is 1,754 acres in the Rock Creek Valley, so it is a longer, narrow park.  There are 32 miles of hiking trails in this oasis from urbanization, including two nature trails.  You can ride bikes, rent a boat, go fishing, play golf or tennis, go horseback riding, and have a picnic.  The Carter Barron Amphitheater is a venue for music, theater, and dance.  You can also tour a couple of mansions and a colonial-era house that are part of the park.  The National Zoological Park is next to the park.

Nature Center

The park was very busy the day that Tom and I visited.  People were hiking, riding bikes, and enjoying being outdoors.  The parking lots are generally small and fill up fast.  The park is open from dawn until dusk.  Glover-Archibold Park, Montrose Park and Georgetown Waterfront Park are parts of Rock Creek but not connected to it.  Again, this pretty park feels more like a metro park than a National Park site, but it is a good space to have in the midst of the city.

If you visit Washington DC and want to get away from the monuments and memorials, Rock Creek Park is a good place to go.  It is close to the mall, but feels far away in terms of atmosphere.