First Time at Great Falls

Anyone who know me or reads this blog understands that I am a waterfall junkie.  I am not sure when my fascination started because I don’t remember encountering many waterfalls until we started full timing, but they are definitely one of my favorite parts of this lifestyle.  My joy in seeing them definitely comes from a combination of sight and sound as I love both the music of the water and the beauty of it sculpting the rocks.  Some are better than others of course, but each one is unique and rarely, if ever, am I disappointed.

That being said I wasn’t expecting that much from Great Falls, mainly because of its close proximity to Washington D.C.  Someone recommended it to me several years ago, but my desire that particular day was more about getting some nature and less about the falls themselves.  As a side note I rarely look at pictures of the falls prior to going because I like being surprised.  The rare exception to that is if the hike is a particularly long one, because I want to see if it’s worth it.

Imagine my surprise when we turned a corner and I saw the Grand Canyon of waterfalls.  It was amazingly beautiful with multiple falls in the same location and my response (like with the Grand Canyon) was simply “wow”.  My pictures don’t come close to capturing it’s beauty and I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.

The first thing you have to decide though is whether to visit from the Virginia or Maryland side.  The cost to park is $20 each for the independent parks, but we got in with our American the Beautiful pass.  We chose the Virginia side first, simply because it was closer to where we were staying and since it was relatively early on a Friday we got a parking spot with no issue. It was a little confusing at first because there are three distinct viewing areas, but with some local help we figured it out.  Here are the pictures.

Walking up to the first viewing area


And this is what we saw. Like I said…Wow.




Another viewpoint



Across the river we could see the park on the Maryland side


Jack was having a good time



And so were we


There were several photographers and an oil painter



Lee’s panorama



This post showed how high the water was in the past



My only complaint was we couldn’t get closer to the water, but there was one area that was open that we could climb down.  It was super rocky but it was totally worth it, and although we could not get into the water because of strong tide currents we got very close.  Jack is becoming quite the rock climber!



This is what we climbed down


I wore these shoes and they worked surprisingly well but I would absolutely recommend hiking shoes.


Climbing back up was actually worse


It was totally worth it though as the view was amazing







Once we left the Virginia side I couldn’t wait to get across to Maryland.  It was a longish drive because we had to go back to the freeway and get across the bridge, but we made it and started walking down the canals.  This side even had a boat that showed the canals although it was closed because of COVID.






Unfortunately when we got down to the walkway it said dogs were not allowed.  None of the other signs said that and it was an additional 1/2 mile walk to the big falls.  It was too hot by this time to leave the dog in the car so we took turns taking a few pictures from the bridge, but unfortunately were not able to go see the falls from the other side.






That was a bummer, but these things happen and it was still a really nice day.  Just in case you think they were all like that the next day was not so great.  There has been a resurgence of CoVid cases in rural Maryland and the State Park I wanted to go to was closed to out of state guests. We also made the trip to the point but the lighthouse was closed due to maintenance.  Sunday it started raining hard and we ended up spending the whole day in, so the weekend was a bit of a bust except for the falls.  Next week though we have tour tickets for Mount Vernon which they have partially reopened for tours.  Things are changing constantly in this CoViDd world but we are just going with it.

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7 thoughts on “First Time at Great Falls

  1. Wow, those gorgeous and on my must-see list! Someday you should check out the waterfall region in mid Tennessee (about an hour east of Nashville).

  2. Hi! I didn’t know where you were planning on going next, and I know you like roadside America stops, so I thought I would give a little FYI.
    If you come into VA, you might want to keep an eye out for the LOVE signs. They aren’t exactly roadside America stops but there are a ton of them. If you go to and click on love works you’ll find the information about the signs, plus a map of where they are. I think there is over 200 in VA? Anyway, I know you like roadside stops, thought you might like these if you’re coming into Virginia. Safe travels! Casey

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