NPS Opening Parking Lots at Great Falls, Belle Haven Parks

In response to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. Public Health Service, the National Park Service (NPS) is modifying park operations to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Beginning today, Saturday, May 23, NPS will allow greater visitor access to Great Falls Park and Belle Haven Picnic Area by reopening parking lots. The Great Falls Parking lot will be adaptively managed to ensure visitors are able to enjoy the park and maintain social distance. Park visitors are asked to adhere to the physical distancing guidelines and small group guidelines (do not exceed 10 people) and to avoid closed facilities. Restrooms at Great Falls Park and Belle Haven Marina will be reopened.

Great Falls Overlook (photo by NPS)

Park Rangers remind visitors to:

Know before you go. 

Visit NPS.gov/findapark for current park conditions and availability of restrooms and other facilities. Make a plan, follow the 10 Essentials, and if you are sick, stay home.

Keep it close. 

Follow the state and county orders governing the open status of the area you’re considering visiting. The National Park Service is working closely with governors and state and local health departments as we increase access and services across the National Park System.

Keep your distance.

Recreate with the people in your household. Give others plenty of room whether you are on a trail, at a boat launch, or in a parking lot. Follow the CDC social distancing guidelines for staying six feet away from others. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth if you’re near others.

Know your limits.

Postpone challenging hikes or trying new activities while first responders, parks, and communities continue to concentrate on responding to the pandemic.

Keep it with you.

If you brought it, take it with you. Trash pickup and restroom facilities will continue to be limited in many park areas. Follow Leave No Trace principles.

Other areas along the George Washington Memorial Parkway remain accessible for walking, biking and other activities. Parking and services remain limited. Visitors should research park current conditions in advance. United States Park Police remain on duty to protect visitors and resources and uphold normal regulations.

Dyke Marsh (photo by NPS)

The following parking lots remain closed:

  • Riverside Park
  • Collingwood Picnic Area parking
  • Fort Hunt Park
  • Jones Point Park
  • Gravelly Point
  • Theodore Roosevelt Island
  • Fort Marcy
  • Roaches Run (Saturday and Sunday)

Until May 31, 2020, Glen Echo Park is closed from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. During the day the park is open to the public but facilities like the playground, pavilions and building are closed. Employees of Montgomery County, Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture and their sub-cooperators in their official capacity as a park partner can enter the park during the closure.

Belle Haven Marina (photo by Susan Fleischman)

Belle Haven Marina is open to slip-holders and for kayak rentals. Washington Sailing Marina and Columbia Island Marina are open to slip-holders. The boats ramps at Belle Haven Marina, Columbia Island and Washington Sailing Marina are open to the public.  The boat ramp at Gravelly Point is not accessible because the parking lot is closed. Clara Barton NHS is also temporarily closed.

There is not sufficient parking outside of locked gates along local roads for visitors to arrive by car and park outside the park. If an area is too crowded for you to keep at least 6 feet away from others, please plan to visit at another time. Parking in the roadway or impeding traffic may result in a citation or vehicle being towed.

Signs will be posted at affected locations. Park visitors are asked to adhere to all closure notices and current social distancing recommendations.

NPS construction projects are essential; therefore, they continue to move forward. These projects include; Arlington Memorial Bridge Rehabilitation, Arlington House Rehabilitation, Netherlands Carillon Rehabilitation, and the Glen Echo Carousel Roof Replacement.

All permitted events scheduled from May 16 to June 8, 2020, are cancelled. The NPS will start accepting permit applications on June 9, 2020.