Piscataway Park | NATIONAL COLONIAL FARM

Entrance to the National Colonial Farm

Entrance to the National Colonial Farm

The main attraction at Piscataway Park is the National Colonial Farm, a Living History farm that is operated as if it were 1770. The farm is run and managed by the Accokeek Foundation, a non-profit organization formed in the mid-1950s when Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association member Frances Bolton purchased the farm and then donated it to form the Foundation. The farm was transformed into the National Colonial Farm in 1959. Today it encompasses about 200 acres of the roughly 4,500 that make up Piscataway Park.

Members of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association then started a campaign to purchase more land along a six-mile stretch of shoreline across from Mount Vernon so to keep the view just as it was when George Washington lived there. This led to the involvement of the National Park Service and the eventual creation of Piscataway Park in 1961, though it was not dedicated and opened until 1968. Since the National Colonial Farm was at its current location before Piscataway Park came along, it was allowed to continue operating as an autonomous entity. Those working at the farm are Accokeek Foundation employees, not National Park Service employees.

The farm grounds are open year-round for those who want to walk around on their own, but the farm buildings are only open from March until the end of November, Tuesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM, except for most Federal holidays. Times can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to visit the Accokeek Foundation Visitor Information web page for the latest schedule.

During the week there is not much to do other than walk around. You may see farm animals—they don’t have days off—and a few staff members working the farm who can answer questions. There are also some self-guided activities that you can participate in such as scavenger hunts. See the Accokeek Foundation’s Self-Guided Adventures web page for more information. Geocaching is also available. The best time to visit is on the weekends when the farm is staffed with Living History guides (March through November). No tours are given, but you can talk with the guides and ask questions.

Most of the visitors to the farm are groups—school and adult organizations. There is a fee for groups, which includes having an actual tour of the farm with a Living History guide—a historian dressed in period costume who has in depth knowledge about farming in 1770. Tours are conducted by and organized through the Accokeet Foundation. See the Accokeet Foundation website for details and to make a reservation.

There are no fees for individuals who visit the farm.

Cows at the National Colonial Farm

Cows at the National Colonial Farm

Unless you arrive during a group tour, the crowds are pretty sparse. Even on the weekends there may only be a few dozen visitors. The biggest crowd is liable to be the fishermen who come to use the Potomac River fishing pier that is located behind the farm’s Visitor Center.

Of course animals are always of big interest to people, but for history buffs, there are two original structures from the late 1700s on the farm—the tobacco barn and the Laurel Branch farm house. Both were moved here from other locations in the area. All other buildings are reconstructions of typical farm buildings from the era.

Laurel Branch Farm House

Laurel Branch Farm House

As for the animals, expect to see cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens. This is not a petting zoo, so make sure children understand that they cannot pet the animals.

Hog at the National Colonial Farm

Hog at the National Colonial Farm

Chicken coop

Chicken coop

Sheep

Sheep

You may even be lucky enough to see a non-farm animal…or unlucky, depending on your point of view.

One of the farm animals that got out of the pen

One of the farm animals that got out of the pen

There are six hiking trails on the property that are accessible year-round from dawn to dusk. See the Hiking Trails web page for details. You will see numerous farm buildings as you hike around the property. However, these are not part of the National Colonial Farm, which is actually a specific area enclosed within a picket fence and with an entrance gate (see the top photo).

Barn along the park road

Barn along the park road

It is also possible to hold events, parties, and even weddings at the National Colonial Farm. The Accokeek Foundation has an Education Center building that can be rented for indoor events, conferences, and parties. Weddings can be held in front of one of the farm buildings, and then everyone can move inside to the Education Center for the reception. Children’s birthday parties include access to an indoor facility plus a farm tour, and those wanting to host a picnic can rent the picnic area and covered pavilion. See the Accokeek Foundation Rentals web page for more information.

There is another farm within Piscataway Park called Hard Bargain Farm that is operated by the Alice Ferguson Foundation. This is an educational facility open by appointment only to elementary and middle school students, teachers, and those involved in environmental professions. It has nothing to do with the National Colonial Farm.

Back to the Top


With a few exceptions, use of any photograph on the National Park Planner website requires a paid Royalty Free Editorial Use License or Commercial Use License. See the Photo Usage page for details.
Last updated on September 2, 2020
Share this article