National Parks Near Washington DC

You may think that national parks in the D.C. area are all about our cultural history. After all, The National Mall and Memorial Parks — including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the war memorials and others — are managed by the National Park Service and are the cultural epicenter of the city and, arguably, the whole country. But our nation’s capital is also ripe with outdoor opportunities, both within the city and just a short trip beyond. 

Photo By: iStock

Photo By: Jon Bilous / iStock

Photo By: Will Hollerith

Photo By: Will Hollerith

Photo By: Will Hollerith

Photo By: Will Hollerith

Photo By: iStock

Photo By: iStock

Photo By: iStock

Rock Creek Park

Founded in 1890 as one of the first federal parks, Rock Creek is an oasis of natural solace and beauty within our nation's capital, in the northwest part of the district.

Shenandoah National Park

Less than a hundred miles from the city, visitors can begin their trip to Shenandoah by cruising on the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains along Skyline Drive.

Shenandoah's Old Rag Mountain

One of the Shenandoah'€™s most popular day hikes is summiting Old Rag Mountain. Old Rag's exposed rocky summit beckons outdoor photography, though some may be more inclined after hiking it to just enjoy the view.

Shenandoah for Fall Color

The best time to visit Shenandoah is during fall when the leaves of the forests turn red, brown and gold.

Chesapeake Bay

Traveling through the largest estuary in North America can take visitors through significant cities, colonial towns, farms and fishing villages where they can kayak, fish, sample seafood or simply slow down to take in the scenery.

Vital Waters

Traveling through the largest estuary in North America can take visitors through significant cities, colonial towns, farms and fishing villages where they can kayak, fish, sample seafood or simply slow down to take in the scenery.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

A kayak or canoe is the best way to explore Blackwater's wetlands and to glimpse the bald eagle in its natural habitat. This protected area southeast of D.C. and across the Chesapeake Bay is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Colonial Parkway

This 23-mile scenic byway connects Jamestowne, Williamsburg and Yorktown, the three points which make up Virginia's Historic Triangle.

George Washington National Forest

Managed by the National Forest Service, this forest and the Jefferson National Forest together form one of the largest stretches of public land in the Eastern U.S. Vast tracts of forested mountain terrain make the trails of this national forest a popular destination for hiking, mountain biking, and especially trail running.

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