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Author Topic: Great Falls Park, Washington DC  (Read 2175 times)
Michael H. Cothran
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« on: February 29, 2012, 02:18:15 PM »
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Never been there before, but would like to plan an extended weekend photographing this Spring, and possibly in the Fall. Any suggestions or tips would be appreciated. Also, looking for economy motels in the area.
Thanks.
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fike
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« Reply #1 on: February 29, 2012, 04:03:43 PM »
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Economy hotels, good luck.  Your best bet on hotels in the DC area is to pick one in a suburb that is readily accessible to the Metro system.  In Maryland, this might be in Bethesda, Rockville, or Silver Spring.  In Virginia this might be somewhere like Alexandria or Ballston.

As for Great Falls.  That area is spectacular, though not huge.  Most people are amazed that its natural splendor is only a few miles from the center of the city.  The most scenic views of the falls are typically seen from the Virginia side.  The more extensive park that surrounds the C&O canal is on the Maryland side.  I would think you could spend a few hours on the VA side, preferably in early morning.  The Maryland side has more extensive trails, particularly the Billy Goat Trail that leaves from the main Great Falls park. 

If Landscape is your thing, some other places to visit in the area are Harpers Ferry, West Virginia (about 75 minutes from the city) where there is a beautiful Civil War era historical town at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers.  Above the town, in Maryland, is Maryland Heights with great views to of the river and town.  Catoctin National park in Maryland is quite scenic with great rocky views.  The park also contains the presidential retreat Camp David.  And finally, there is Shenandoah National Park that is about two hours from the city. Lots of great scenery and hiking there. 
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Martin Ranger
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« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2012, 08:12:53 PM »
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I second everything Marc said. The Billy Goat Trail is probably the most fun trail close to DC. If you are free to go either in spring or fall, I would go in fall...the trees will look nicer  Smiley
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BarbaraArmstrong
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2012, 08:31:54 PM »
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The locks along the canal (my experience is on the Maryland side) make great photographic opportunities.  Be sure to have a nice wide lens with you.  Spring is lovely.  The only problem with the fall is that you can encounter a major hurricane if your timing is bad.  I remember hiking through the park one time when the roads were closed to cars and the only way in was to walk (seemed like or actually was) a couple miles through the woods.  Fall foliage does lend a nice backdrop.  The rushing water on the Virginia side is powerful, but I've never managed to frame an interesting image of it, while lots of scenes beckon on the Maryland side.  When you enter the park on the Maryland side, turning left from the entrance takes you toward the city (DC) and many interesting vistas.  Going right is quieter with (I think) fewer distinctive settings.  If you have a pass that gets you into national parks, that will admit you free to Great Falls. And if you're a senior (62 plus) it doesn't cost much and is good for life.  You probably know that already, but you can purchase a pass at the park.  I'm living outside of Seattle now, and have three nice prints from the Canal on my dining room wall.  --Barbara
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Michael H. Cothran
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2012, 08:22:13 AM »
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Thanks for the information. Can I presume from what I've read so far that the iconic shots I see with the rapids and rocks are taken from the Virginia side? These are the images I've enjoyed best in the past, and the ones I would like to capture while there.
And are there no motels in the immediate vicinity of the park?
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fike
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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2012, 10:29:48 AM »
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yes.  Getting to those views frequently takes a little bit of bouldering and bushwhacking. Nothing hard, but you will want a backpack.
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Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2012, 10:49:04 AM »
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... Also, looking for economy motels in the area.
Thanks.

When I was visiting DC in August, I used Priceline to bid on a room and got 5* Grand Hyatt, a few blocks from the White House, for $99 (rack rate above $400).
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« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2012, 11:05:36 AM »
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When I was visiting DC in August, I used Priceline to bid on a room and got 5* Grand Hyatt, a few blocks from the White House, for $99 (rack rate above $400).
Awesome deal! I never think of priceline.  I think it is because they used William Shatner as their spokesperson, and I hate William Shatner.   Wink Was that a last minute reservation?
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2012, 11:21:31 AM »
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Awesome deal! I never think of priceline.  I think it is because they used William Shatner as their spokesperson, and I hate William Shatner.   Wink Was that a last minute reservation?

I was on a road trip, so it was maybe a day in advance or the same day. You bid on an area in the city and star rating, but you do not know the name of the hotel until they accept your bid. I believe there are four or five areas for WDC and I selected the one closest to the WH. Areas tend to be pretty well defined and logical, so you will not end up miles away from your preferred destination. I did the same thing in Paris, France.
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Michael H. Cothran
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« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2012, 03:04:10 PM »
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I use Priceline regularly. I stay in Orange County, CA a few times a year for $45 per night thru them at extended stay hotels, which are normally in the $100 per night range. The only problem is you don't get to choose your motel - only the area and price. I've found that the closer you get to your stay-date (before bidding), the better your chances are of a cheap acceptance. But...the flip side to that is the chances of a motel being fully booked increases.

Back to my inquiry:
My question on motels is still falling short. Let me re-phrase again -
Are there any motels in the immediate vicinity of Great Falls? Not DC per say, but Great Falls. On either side of the Potomac? I don't plan to enter DC for any reason. My purpose for this trip is only to photograph Great Falls.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2012, 03:08:54 PM by Michael H. Cothran » Logged
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