The C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) offers a variety of opportunities to get on the water. Visitors can paddle in canoes and kayaks, take a boat ride on the canal with Park Rangers, or take their own boats on the Potomac River.
The Potomac River offers white water rapids and flat water paddling. The most difficult rapids, ranked class IV and V, are in the eastern area of the Park, particularly at Great Falls. Some easier rapids exist in the Harpers Ferry area, ranked class II and III. Paddlers can also paddle in some watered areas of the canal. The Park offers plenty of river access and limited canal access.
Life jackets are required by the State of Maryland. Please consult this list of restrictions and safety information before you head out on the water and never go into rapid areas over your skill level.
There are a variety of boat ramps in the C&O Canal NHP that provide boat access to the Potomac River, however, boating on the Potomac River is governed by the State of Maryland. Visit their website for rules and regulations.