Rock Creek Park | PARK AT A GLANCE

View of Rock Creek from the Rapids Bridge

View of Rock Creek from the Rapids Bridge


Rock Creek Park is located in Washington, D. C. It is the third oldest National Park, having been authorized by the Federal Government in 1890, twenty-six years before the National Park Service even existed. Other detached properties have been added to the park over the years—ninety-nine in all. These include natural areas with a few hiking trails, landscaped city parks, sites of Civil War earthen forts, and memorials and statues.

Other than a few historical buildings, the focus of Rock Creek Park is outdoor recreation. There are thirty-two miles of trails in the park, many of which are open to horseback riding. Paved trails and streets are open to bikers. Thirty different picnic areas are available, some large enough to host a birthday party or family reunion, while others are just large enough to hold a single picnic table. The park also has a nature center, a planetarium, an outdoor theater, a tennis stadium, a golf course, and a horse stable.

Rock Creek Park is of very little interest to tourists and is in essence a city park for local residents. Ninety percent of visitors are from the surrounding area. Tourists may want to visit the Old Stone House or Peirce Mill, or perhaps paddle on the Potomac, but the trails and picnic areas are mainly used by the locals.


The grounds of Rock Creek Park are open daily during daylight hours.

Nature Center

  • Wednesday-Sunday, 9 AM to 5 PM
  • Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, plus Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day

Planetarium Shows

  • Wednesday at 4 PM
  • Saturdays and Sundays at 1 PM and 4 PM

The Old Stone House

  • Open daily from 11 AM to 6 PM
  • Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day

Peirce Mill and Barn

  • April through October: Friday-Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM
  • November and December: Weekends from 10 AM to 4 PM
  • January and February : Weekends from 12 PM to 4 PM
  • March: Weekends from 10 AM to 4 PM
  • Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s days

Times can always change, so be sure to visit the National Park Service’s Rock Creek Park Operating Hours and Seasons web page for the latest schedules.


There are no fees to enter the Rock Creek Park. Planetarium shows are free as well. The only fees are for renting horses, playing golf and tennis, and renting picnic areas and sports fields.


Nature Center
Allow 15 to 60 minutes

Peirce Mill
Allow 30 minutes

Old Stone House
Allow 30 minutes

All other activities are outdoor recreations, so time spent depends on you.

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Last updated on January 12, 2022
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