Frequently Asked Questions


This information is provided for general reference. Please contact the park directly for specific park information.

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Permits and Reservations

Groups of more than 25 individuals planning an event, demonstration, performance, or similar activity may be subject to obtaining a permit. Each park manages its permits and reservations individually. For regulations, see 36 CFR § 7.96. More about about permits.

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Pets are allowed in most park areas, but must be on a leash not exceeding six (6) feet in length at all times. Some areas, such as Billy Goat Trail A and the Great Falls Overlook, are closed to pets. Service animals are permitted.

Drones are not allowed at C&O Canal
Drones are not allowed at C&O Canal NHP

Unmanned Aircraft (Drones, model airplanes, etc...)

The launching, landing, or operation of unmanned aircraft is prohibited at C&O Canal NHP.
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Contact the NCR Dispatch Center at (866) 677-6677.


FAQs about Canal History

When did the C&O Canal become a National Historical Park?
January 8, 1971

How many acres is the park?
Approximately 20,239 acres

When did the government acquire the canal?
September 23, 1938

What is the condition of the canal today?
The canal today is used by millions of people every year for hiking, biking, and other recreational activities. The original towpath is still the main trail utilized by park visitors. Approximately 25 miles of the canal is watered and a 2 locks are still in working condition.

When was construction started?
July 4, 1828

When was the canal completed
October 10, 1850

What were the years of operation?
1850-1924, some sections opened starting in 1830

What was the cost of the canal?
About $14 million

How many years did it take to build the canal?
22 years

How long is the canal?
184.5 miles long

How deep is the canal?
Workers dug it to be 6 feet deep but many areas that are watered are only 2-3 feet deep

How wide is the canal?
60 to 80 feet depending upon the section

How wide is the towpath?
Originally 12ft wide, now 7ft in some areas

What is the change in elevation end to end on the canal?
605 feet

How many locks are on the canal?
74 lift locks

How many dams were built along the canal to divert river water into the inlets?
7 dams

How many aqueducts were built along the canal?
11 aqueducts

How many culverts were built along the canal?
Over 150 culverts

Last updated: April 8, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

142 W. Potomac St.
Williamsport, MD 21795



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