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George Washington

Memorial Parkway

About the Park

The George Washington Memorial Parkway is a 25 mile stretch of road in Northern Virginia that runs beside the Potomac River from Mount Vernon to the intersection with I-495. The Parkway is also responsible for the management of many pieces of federal land near and alongside the parkway itself.

Noteworthy parts of the George Washington Memorial Parkway lands include:

  • Great Falls Park. Located west of the end of the parkway, it includes parkland, hiking trails, picnic tables and a visitor center. 

  • Clara Barton Parkway. Located on the Maryland side of the river, it's a 7 mile stretch of road that includes parkland and hiking trails along the river.

  • Glen Echo Park. A former amusement park that's used as a park for arts classes. Includes a working carrousel and a puppet theater. Currently managed by Montgomery County, MD, but is included here because it sits on parkway land. 

  • Turkey Run Park. Park headquarters (and stamps) are here. Park also has trails and picnic spots.

  • The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial.

  • The Netherland Carillon. The bell tower is a gift from the Netherlands. It plays throughout the day. A garden of tulips and other flowers bloom in spring.

  • Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Located right at the entrance to Arlington Cemetery. Includes exhibits inside the memorial building. Site is managed by an independent non-profit organization, but sits on parkway land.

  • Gravelly Point. Small park right beside the runway for Reagan National Airport.

  • Jones Point Park. Includes a playground and a lighthouse that occasionally hosts programs for children.

  • Belle Haven Park. Includes trails and picnic tables.

  • Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve. Includes a trail that ends on a boardwalk overlooking the marshland.

  • Fort Hunt Park. Parkland with trails and multiple picnic pavilions.

  • Mount Vernon Trail. A paved biking trail that runs alongside the southern half of the parkway, from Mount Vernon up just beyond Arlington Cemetery.

George Washington Memorial Parkway NPS Site

Discussion Topics

  • At Great Falls Park, the highlight of the park is the falls itself, but you can also see the remnants of the Patowmack Canal, of which George Washington was an early investor. What was the canal for, and why do you think getting boats up the river would have been so important to Washington?

  • The United States Marine Corps War Memorial captures the moment that the American flag was placed at Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima after a major battle in which many died. How do you think the Marines felt when they saw the United States flag flying on the mountain top? How does it make you feel to see it right now?

  • The George Washington Memorial Parkway creates a direct route for visitors to Mount Vernon, Washington's home, but the parkway was built many years after Washington died. When Washington lived there, Mount Vernon was actually hard to find and difficult to get to, but many people made the journey because they wanted to meet George Washington. Would you make the trip to meet Washington? What would you ask him about if you did?


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