If you’re looking for a little nature escape in the heart of Washington, look no further than Rock Creek Park. This beautiful nature reserve has a rich history, and today is one of DC’s favorite places to commune with nature.
For hundreds of years Native Americans utilized the land now known as Rock Creek Park in various ways. They quarried rock outcroppings to make tools, fished the creek, and hunted wild game in the woodlands. When European Americans arrived in the 1600s, the land was converted to farmland – first tobacco then wheat and corn production into the 1800s. During the Civil War, the area was badly deforested to make a barricade by Union soldiers to make a Confederate march through the valley nearly impossible.
Thankfully, in 1890, Rock Creek Park’s ownership turned over to the federal government, making it one of the first federally managed parks in the nation. Since then, the park has become a hotspot for recreation and nature restoration.
Today, Rock Creek Park is still a favorite of DC locals and vacationers as a way to commune with nature without leaving the District, as well as a hub for learning for kids and adults alike. There are several ranger led programs for kids, planetarium programs, cell phone tours, hiking, biking, horse trails, golf, and much more! Most of these activities are free to the general public as well.
From the host hotel, Rock Creek park is almost due north. The easiest way to get there is to walk through the National Zoo, and it will take about 30 minutes to get to the southernmost tips of the park. Perfect for anyone arriving to the meeting early or staying an extra day. For more information, visit their website.