National Park Week: Celebrate National Parks in Northern Virginia

National Park Week, from April 17 – 25 in 2021, is an annual spring celebration of all that our wonderful national parks have to offer. The National Park Service will offer free entrance to all national parks on April 17th, the first day of National Park Week.

On April 18, pitch in with a project on Volunteers in Parks Day and help out at a park. There are more event themes every day of the week, including Earth Day celebrations on April 22 and during the following weekend. The National Park Services and the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, partner to present National Park Week every year.

Keep in mind that the park’s will be busy on the free entrance day, so arrive early. Here are 5 of our favorite places to celebrate National Park Week at parks in Northern Virginia.

1. Great Falls Park, McLean

Admire the falls, take a hike on the River Trail past beautiful Mather Gorge, or try a loop hike at the eastern edge of the park. Kids can earn a Junior Ranger Badge using one of two booklets, grouped by age. Since the Visitor Center is currently closed, parents can get virtual park booklets from the park website.

Great Falls Park waterfalls from overlook 1
Great Falls Park waterfalls from overlook 1

2. George Washington Memorial Parkway

With multiple parks celebrating history and nature, the GW Parkway offers a fascinating way to spend a day just outside Washington DC. Take a scenic drive on the GW Parkway and stop at one or more of the highlighted stops along the way. Visit the park website for more info.

Here are some of favorite places to visit on the parkway:

Turkey Run Park: Enjoy Virginia bluebells and other spring wildflowers with a hike along the Potomac.

Potomac River view from Turkey Run Park
Potomac River view from Turkey Run Park

US Marine Corps War Memorial: Reflect on bravery and sacrifice at this iconic memorial.

US Marine Corp Memorial in Arlington VA
US Marine Corp Memorial in Arlington VA

Theodore Roosevelt Island or Dyke Marsh: Hike the trails and boardwalks.

Roosevelt Island boardwalk after rains
Roosevelt Island boardwalk
Dyke Marsh boardwalk along the Potomac River in Northern VA
Dyke Marsh boardwalk along the Potomac River in Northern VA

George Washington’s Mount Vernon: Explore the home and grounds of America’s first president.

Mount Vernon Virginia home of George Washington
Mount Vernon Virginia home of George Washington

3. Manassas National Battlefield

Learn about the site of two important Civil War battles. A hike on the First Manassas loop trail takes you through the locations of the first major conflict of the war. For a shorter and easier hike, follow the boardwalk and a dirt loop trail near the Stone Bridge. Or drive to Henry Hill and explore the area near the Visitor Center (currently closed). Visit the park website for more info.

Manassas Battlefield loop hike
Manassas Battlefield
House and Monument on Henry Hill, Manassas Battlefield VA
Henry Hill, Manassas Battlefield VA

4. Prince William Forest Park

Hike the trails at Prince William Forest. An extensive network of trails offers scenic hiking for every age. Visitors can also explore the park via a scenic drive with dedicated bike lanes. When you visit, learn about the park’s interesting history as a depression-era summer camp, and later, an OSS spy training camp. Visit the park website for special event info.

Bridge over Quantico Creek Prince William Forest
Bridge over Quantico Creek Prince William Forest

5. Shenandoah National Park

Drink in the vistas, nature, and history by car, or take a short hike to gorgeous views. Shenandoah National Park hosts special celebrations and activities throughout National Park Week. Plan your visit with our guide, Shenandoah National Park Day Trip Planner: Things to Do in the Central District. Visit the park website for more information.

Hikers on Marys Rock in Shenandoah NP
Hikers on Mary’s Rock

We hope you have a chance to explore the many beautiful national parks in Northern Virginia, during National Park Week and all year long.

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