What to See and Do in Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC

A Visitor's Guide to Rock Creek Park

Rock Creek Park Boulder Bridge
••• Rock Creek Park Boulder Bridge. © Rachel Cooper

Rock Creek Park is Washington, DC’s urban park that extends 12 miles from the Potomac River to the border of Maryland. The park offers a retreat from city life and an opportunity to explore the beauty of nature. Visitors can picnic, hike, bike, roller blade, play tennis, fish, horseback ride, listen to a concert, or attend programs with a park ranger. Children can participate in a wide range of special programs at Rock Creek Park, including planetarium shows, animal talks, exploratory hikes, crafts, and junior ranger programs.

Road Closures: Sections of Beach Drive are closed to traffic on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  for bikers, roller bladers, ​hikers and joggers. The Rock Creek Parkway is one way going south from Connecticut Avenue, Monday through Friday between 6:45- 9:30 a.m. and one way going north from 3:45 - 6:30 p.m.

Major Sites and Recreation Facilities

Rock Creek Trails - Rock Creek Regional and Rock Creek Stream Valley Park offer over 25 miles of trails. This is one of the best places to hike and bike in the Washington, DC area.

Rock Creek Nature Center and Planetarium Visitor Center - 5200 Glover Road, NW Washington, DC (202) 895-6070. Open All Year - Wednesday through Sunday – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, New Year's, 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The Rock Creek Nature Center offers exhibits, guided walks, lectures, live animal demonstrations and the "Discovery Room," a hands-on exhibit for children ages 2 to 5.

Rock Creek Planetarium offers 45-60 minute programs exploring the stars and planets.

Carter Barron Amphitheater - 16th & Colorado Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. The 4,200-seat outdoor concert venue offers performing arts in a beautiful wooded setting in Rock Creek Park. Many performances are free.

Pierce Mill - This building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the last of many mills that served local farmers from the 18th to early 20th centuries.

The mill is used for a meeting place for ranger-led programs.

Old Stone House Visitor Center - 3051 M Street, NW Washington, DC (202) 895-6070. The Old Stone House was built in 1765 and is one of the oldest known structures remaining in Washington, DC. Its beautiful flower garden is a popular place to visit in Georgetown.

Thompson's Boat Center - 2900 Virginia Avenue, NW Washington, DC. Rents bicycles, kayaks, canoes, and small sailboats. Lessons are available.

Rock Creek Horse Center - 5100 Glover Rd., NW Washington, DC. Offers trail rides and lessons on horses (ages 12 and up) and ponies (kids over 30" tall). Advance reservations are required.

Rock Creek Tennis Center - 16th & Kennedy Sts., NW, Washington, DC. Indoor and outdoor courts are available.

Rock Creek Golf Course - 16th & Rittenhouse, NW Washington, DC. The 18-hole public golf course has a clubhouse and snack bar.

National Zoo - 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC. The Smithsonian National Zoological Park is situated in Rock Creek Park. Visit your favorite animals! See the giant pandas, lions, giraffes, tigers, monkeys, sea lions, and much more.

Picnic Areas - Advance reservations are required May through October for groups at picnic areas 1, 6,7,8,9,10,13, and 24 at www.recreation.gov.

These picnic areas are available on a first-come, first-served basis from November through April.