As many visitors of the C&O National Historical Park will tell you, the canal is a very photogenic place. From birds to flowers to landmarks, the canal serves as not only a place to escape from our busy lives, but a picturesque landscape for photographers to create art.
Below we have listed the 15 most instagrammable spots in the canal. We hope this will urge you to get out and explore the beauty of the Park. Share your photos with us by tagging the C&O Canal on Facebook or Instagram!
You can also enter your photos in our monthly Photo Contest.
Photo: ‘Paw Paw Tunnel South Entrance’ by Garner Woodall
If you have never taken a hike to the Paw Paw Tunnel, you are missing out. It took 12 years for this canal landmark to be completed. At about 3/5 of a mile long and composed of about 5,800,000 bricks, the Paw Paw Tunnel is well loved for being one of the most photogenic locations on the canal.
Photo: ‘A Mill in Time at McMahons Mill’ by Wanda Poffenberger
Have you ever seen a mill look so pretty? After the closure of the mill due to flooding in 1922, the National Park Service revitalized this beautiful structure of canal history in Williamsport, MD. Today, you can visit and even stay at the various local campgrounds nearby; just be sure to check out the McMahon’s Mill Museum while you’re there!
Photo: ‘Monocacy Aqueduct’ by John Gensor
This breathtaking structure is located in Dickerson, MD. If you look closely at the Monocacy Aqueduct, you may find some of the exposed brick is a light pink color – a perfect background to any Instagram picture!
Photo: ‘Pennyfield Lock’ by Patrick Benko
Pennyfield Lock is anything if not extraordinary. It is well known for being a local ‘getaway’ for city goers. Even the great President Grover Cleveland visited Pennyfield Lock from time to time. If you desire to bring some historic views to your social media, this is just the place for you. Pennyfield Lock is also home to one of our lockhouses available for your next canal getaway. Find out more here.
Photo: ‘Canal in Georgetown’ by Tim Walters
A beloved canal town, Georgetown is a very scenic spot for those who enjoy the quaint atmosphere of a small town tucked away in an antique time. The canal flows through the town, and because of the Venice-like views, it is quite photograph-worthy. In the town, you can explore the streets, where you are bound to find even more photogenic nooks and crannies.
Photo: ‘Conococheague Aqueduct’ – Williamsport by Ellen Kinzer
At 196 ft long, the Conococheague Aqueduct is the second largest aqueduct in the park behind the Monocacy. If you get the opportunity to visit the Conococheague, be sure to take a ride on one of the canal boats. It’s definitely worth the picture.
Photo: ‘Violettes Lock’ by Stan Collyer
Located in Darnestown, MD, Violettes Lock is a great place to snap a picture of the Potomac River during a breathtaking sunset. The exposed brick of this lock is made of the famous red sandstone that can also be found in Seneca.
Photo: ‘Dam 4’ by MJ Clingan
If you have ever visited Dam 4, you know that even pictures of this landmark are ones you can hear. Dam 4 was built to divert water for 22 miles of the canal, and it is not surprising that as you come up to it, that you can hear it before you see it. Today, the dam works to provide energy for the whole of Washington County.
Photo: ‘Big Slackwater’ by Ellen Kinzer
After Hurricane Agnes destroyed the part of the towpath at Big Slackwater, many people were unable to enjoy the 2.7 miles of towpath that connected mileposts 84 through 89. In the fall of 2012, the Park completed their restoration project, allowing for visiting hikers and bikers to appreciate this section of the canal.
Photo: ‘Dawn’s Glow’ – Great Falls Overlook on Falls Island by Roy Sewall
Can’t make it to Niagara Falls? Great Falls in Potomac, MD is a local spot that will give Niagara a run for its money. Just follow the quarter-mile footbridge to the scenic overlook and spend your day in awe of the magnificent view.
Photo: ‘Harpers Ferry Foilage’ by Kevin Donohoe
Harpers Ferry, a canal town located in West Virginia, is the perfect place to capture that instagram-worthy shot of foggy mountain foliage. Harpers Ferry is known for this historically famous John Brown Raid that made a big difference in the Civil War. Be sure to check out the many hiking opportunities in the area. Maryland Heights is a popular hike that can give you a breathtaking view of the small town.
Photo: ‘Lock 28 at Point of Rocks’ by Paul Graunke
From 1828 to 1832, Point of Rocks was at the center of a feud between the C&O Canal and the B&O Railroad. For these two companies, Point of Rocks was an important spot for the two major modes of transportation; what resulted was a court battle that ultimately ended with the government siding in favor of the canal. Despite this, the railroad was completed way before the canal, making it obsolete. Today, Point of Rocks contains many landmarks that are especially beautiful and worthy of photographic appreciation. Find out how you can plan your stay at the lockhouse in Point of Rocks here!
Photo: ‘Little Pool Day’ by Lesley Pearl
Looking for your moment of zen? Little Pool is a great spot to go nature watching. With a scenic view of the water and the critters that live all around the area, Little Pool will easily become your happy place.
Photo: ‘Dam 5’ by Craig Kuhn
Dam 5, like Dam 4, maintains water levels by diverting water into the canal and providing hydroelectricity for neighboring areas. The brick house that sits beside the dam was once used as a paper mill for a short period in 1887 to 1891.
Photo: ‘Great Falls Tavern’ by Mike Mitchell
Great Falls Tavern is one of the most iconic structures of the canal. Night or day, this landmark is impressive; it’s no wonder that visitors love taking pictures of it! W.W. Fenlon was the first locktender, and he convinced the canal company to allow him to build an inn at Great Falls. Visitors to the inn would also visit the tavern – then called the Crommelin House.
Each month, the C&O Canal Trust holds a photo contest on our Facebook page of photographs taken in the C&O Canal National Historical Park and its surrounding Canal Towns. Anyone can vote by “liking” their favorite photos. The winner receives bragging rights and their photo at the top of our Facebook and Twitter pages for one month. We receive beautiful photos every month and wanted to share our 2019 winners with you.
January- Winter at Cushwa in Williamsport by Mark Crilley
February- Snowy Sunday Along the Potomac by Wanda Poffenberger
March-Lockhouse 44 in Williamsport at Mile Marker 99.25 by Ray Jackson
April- Drawn by Sweet Nectar by MJ Clingan
May- New Start by Kurt Sobina
June- Baby Barred Owl by Sandy Rosenblatt
July- Summer Night in Hancock, MD by Stephen 'Van' Van Meter
August- Towpath Curve After Great Falls by Debra Kanter Klaus
September- Sunset through the Lock Gates at Violette's Lock by Kara McNulty
October- Reflection in Hancock, MD by Jimmy Lapelosa
November- Dam 4 by Jon Wolz
December-Towpath near Oldtown by Preston P. Piper, Jr.
The C&O Canal National Historical Park has much to offer during the winter months to park visitors who enjoy the colder temperatures. Snow on the ground provides the opportunity for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and offers a beautiful backdrop for hiking, dog walking, bird watching, and photography. Frigid temperatures usually find folks taking to the ice for a solitary skate or a pickup game of ice hockey. Enjoy winter photos of the C&O Canal National Park, courtesy of our monthly Facebook photo contest entrants. Read More
Each month the C&O Canal Trust holds a photo contest on our Facebook page of photographs taken in the C&O Canal National Historical Park and its surrounding Canal Towns. Votes are placed by “liking” the photos. The winner receives bragging rights and their photo at the top of our Facebook and Twitter pages for one month. We receive beautiful photos every month and wanted to share our 2018 winners with you. Read More
Get out your cameras! The C&O Canal Trust sponsors a monthly photo contest highlighting the best photos you have taken of the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Read More
January getting you down? Look back at 2017 in the C&O Canal National Historical Park with each month’s photo contest winner! These photos capture the beauty of the park, which cannot be rivaled anywhere else. Next time you visit the park, make sure you bring your camera and submit a photo to our monthly contest. For more information on the contest and how to enter, visit our website. Read More
We are in the peak fall foliage season here in Maryland, and we have collected some of our favorite photos of the canal bursting with color!
Where possible, we have linked the photos’ descriptions to their locations in the C&O Canal National Historical Park so you can go out and see the beautiful fall color for yourself! Read More
Take a look back at 2016 in the C&O Canal National Historical Park with each month’s photo contest winner! Each of these photos represents something that makes the C&O Canal National Historical Park great! Next time you visit the park be sure to capture some of the beauty you encounter and submit it to our photo contest. For information on how you can enter the photo contest visit our webpage at https://www.canaltrust.org/news/photo-contest/. Read More