Washington, D.C., Fall Foliage: A MapQuest Guide
Washington, D.C., fall foliage features brilliant hues and spectacular scenery. The changing colors of leaves in autumn is one of nature's most beloved rites of passage -- and makes for one of the most popular and inexpensive getaways for families. As part of LeafQuest -- a MapQuest series helping leaf peepers across North America find easy and rewarding destinations -- here are three recommended spots for viewing Washington, D.C., fall foliage. — Nick Romano
Rock Creek Park
Washington, D.C., gets a bad rap from politicos looking for an easy target, but don't blame the denizens of Rock Creek Park: the white-tailed deer, coyotes, owls and Baltimore Orioles. These residents get to enjoy full-time the blazing fall foliage that Rock Creek -- one of the nation's largest and oldest parks -- has to offer, including maple, hickory, oak and ash trees. Such presidents as Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan had special attachments to the park. Indeed, it is so lovely here that, for a time after the Civil War, "the Executive Mansion seriously considered relocating the presidential residence to Rock Creek Park."
5200 Glover Road NW, Washington, DC 20015 | Get Directions
Though overshadowed by nearby imposing, weighty monuments to our founding fathers, Constitution Gardens might be one of Washington's least-recognized attractions. But it's there, stealthily, on the mall, next to the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, 5,000 maple, dogwood, oak, elm and crabapple trees strong. (You've probably walked through it -- on the Mall --and didn't know it was a separate park.) And while the city is internationally famous for its cherry blossoms in the spring, in autumn, Constitution Gardens has a power that enhances the city's other landmarks. The blazing fall foliage dramatically changes the perspective of the monoliths and memorials. Look for the Memorial to the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence on the island inside Constitution Gardens Pond.
West Potomac Park, Constitution Avenue and 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037 | Get Directions
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park was a merchant waterway rich in history that in 1971was converted to a national historic park. The 184.5-mile canal went from northwest Maryland to Georgetown in Washington, passing very close to Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia, and past sacred Civil War sites, such as Antietam and Harper's Ferry. It was a pre-asphalt highway, bringing coal and lumber to the nation's capital. In addition to its historical value, it's also one of the best spots to view fall foliage in the entire country, as it’s home to more than 1,500 plant species. Sycamores, bitternut hickories, box elders and shumard oaks are some of the trees whose fiery leaves transform the park every autumn to a leaf-peeping paradise. Start your quest at the park's Georgetown Visitor Center.
Georgetown Visitor Center, 1057 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW Washington, DC 20007 | Get Directions
Biking through the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park with views of the Potomac River.
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