Prince William Forest Park | PARK AT A GLANCE

South Valley Trail along the South Fork Quantico River

South Valley Trail along the South Fork Quantico River


Prince William Forest Park is an outdoor recreational area located 30 miles south of Alexandria, Virginia, adjacent to the Quantico Marine Corps Reservation. Visitors have access to hiking trails, paved and gravel roads for biking, picnic areas, lakes and creeks for fishing, and camping opportunities ranging from full-service RV camping to primitive backcountry camping that requires hiking to reach the campsites. Rustic cabins are also available for organized groups and individuals.

The park was built between 1935 and 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), an organization designed to put men back to work during the Great Depression. The CCC built many of the nation’s parks, both state and national. Originally called the Chopowamsic Recreational Demonstration Area (RDA), the park was intended to provide outdoor recreation for inner city families and children from the Washington, D. C. area. All RDAs—forty-six in all—were under the management of the National Park Service, which is why what amounts to a state park in any other area of the country is part of the National Park system. The park was renamed Prince William Forest Park in 1948.

With the United States’s entry into World War II in December 1941, the Chopowamsic RDA was one of two parks taken over by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the other being Catoctin Mountain Park. The OSS, which would go on to become the CIA, was a new intelligence organization that developed propaganda and espionage techniques used during the war. Prior to the OSS, military intelligence was done by a number of agencies, and the OSS was an effort to consolidate all efforts into one organization. After the war the park returned to its original purpose and once again began hosting families and children. Any structures built by the OSS were removed.


Prince William Forest Park is open daily from sunrise to sunset. The exception is 24-hour access for those camping or staying at one of the cabins.

Oakridge Campground and the Chopawamsic Backcountry are open from March 1st to November 30th.

The Turkey Run Group Campground and the Prince William Forest RV Park are all open year-round.

Cabin Camp 5 is open year-round, but the rest of the cabins and cabin camps are only open from mid-April until the last weekend in October or the first weekend in November, depending on when the weekend falls each year. Exact opening and closing dates vary each year.

The Visitor Center hours are as follows:

  • Daylight Saving Time: daily, 9 AM to 5 PM
  • Standard Time: Fridays through Mondays, 8 AM to 4 PM
  • Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day

Times can always change, so for the latest schedule be sure to visit the National Park Service’s official Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Prince William Forest Park.


There is a fee to enter Prince William Forest Park. During operating hours, you can pay at the park entrance booth, or if this is not manned, at the Visitor Center. You can also pay using a park app available at the App Store and Google Play. Passes are good for seven consecutive days. You can also purchase an annual pass, either specifically for the park, or for all National Parks. There is an additional fee for those wishing to camp or rent picnic facilities. For the latest prices, visit the official Fees and Passes web page for Prince William Forest Park.

For those who arrive after business hours, a self-pay station is located near the entrance to the park. You can pay with cash or check, but be advised that there is no way to get change.

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Last updated on August 30, 2020
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