The George Washington Memorial Parkway is designated as an official National Scenic Byway. For northbound I-95 travelers, the Parkway begins approximately 10 miles from I-95, exit 161 (US Route 1). Take US Route 1 north to the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway (VA Route 235) east to the George Washington Memorial Parkway. From there, the George Washington Memorial Parkway is approximately 25 miles long. For southbound I-95 travelers, the George Washington Memorial Parkway begins approximately 16 miles from I-95, exit 27 (I-495). Take I-495 north to exit 43. From there, the George Washington Memorial Parkway is approximately 25 miles long. You should allow about one hour (without stopping) to drive this route or one full day to visit attractions along the way.
The George Washington Memorial Parkway passes monuments and memorials, wildlife preserves and historic homes, majestic waterfalls and scenic overlooks, connected by a roadway designed for pleasure driving. It is a memorial to the first President of our Nation. Framed by low stone walls, the parkway offers scenic views of the Potomac River and historic sites at several locations. Intimate woodland scenes give way to extensive views of the Potomac River.
Beginning at Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, visitors can see the original plantation home of George Washington. Preserved as an 18th Century manor home, with surrounding outbuildings, gardens and fields, visitors can experience the true feeling of a plantation home. Along the way, you can visit Riverside Park, Fort Hunt, or the Collingwood Picnic Area and take in a relaxing and scenic view of the Potomac River. Visitors can stop and watch for birds at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve or stay awhile at Belle Haven Park. Jones Point Park offers an opportunity to picnic with views of the Potomac River and the historic lighthouse that provided a warning light for naval ships approaching the Washington Navy Yard.
After lunch, stop at Arlington National Cemetery and gain a new appreciation of what service to our Nation means. You will journey on Memorial Avenue, lined with military monuments, including the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, a unique, living memorial honoring all military women. The USMC War Memorial, the Netherlands Carillon and the Navy Marine Memorial provide connections with historic events of our nation.
Natural and historic sites are located along the northern end of the parkway, with trails for hiking and scenic spots for picnicking. The journey ends at Great Falls Park, where the Great Falls of the Potomac challenged the engineering skills of George Washington. The history and scenic beauty of Great Falls provide a fitting end to a journey through the lands that George Washington traveled by horse.
The National Scenic Byways Program recognizes highways that are outstanding examples of our nation’s beauty, history, culture, and recreational experience by designating them as All-American Roads and National Scenic Byways. The roads being featured were designated by the Secretary of Transportation from nominations submitted by the states and federal land management agencies. These designations provide a compass for people from all over the world to explore America’s treasured open roads.
Content reproduced with permission from the National Scenic Byways Online: www.byways.org
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