Frequently Asked Questions

Registration & Policies

How do I register?

Registrations are available on a first-come first-serve basis and may be made up to twelve months in advance. This may only be done with a credit card online; we are unable to take registrations over the phone. 

To reserve your stay, click the “Book Now” button on the main page of your chosen lockhouse. Here you will be able to see the availability calendar and its key. It will show two months at a time. To see future months, please click the double arrow in the upper right corner of the calendar, circled here in red:

Click on your preferred dates of stay and follow the prompts to complete your registration. Please note that these dates reflect the nights you will be staying in the lockhouse, not the arrival and departure dates. 

For example, if you select the 12th, that means you will be arriving on the 12th, staying for one night, and departing on the 13th. If you also select the 13th, that will mean a two-night stay, departing on the 14th.

Online registration shows “real-time” lockhouse availability. Follow the guided process and be sure to have your credit card ready. Make sure you enter it slowly and correctly. Once your registration has been successfully submitted, you will receive two emails: a receipt and a confirmation with detailed instructions. DO NOT hit the “back” button during your registration process as this will put your registration in a pending state, locking you out. If this happens, please call us at (240) 202-2625 x190 and we will manually reset it for you.

The Trust does not keep a wait list.

By completing the registration, you agree to follow and be legally responsible for ensuring that your group adheres to all rules and regulations. Violations of the Trust User Agreement and/or National Park Service regulations may result in legal and/or financial charges. The group leader agrees to remain with the group during their entire stay in the Canal Quarters program.

How do gift certificates work?

To purchase a gift certificate for someone, click on the “Gift Certificates” button on the house’s main page. The gift certificate will apply to that house only. The party receiving the gift certificate will have up to one year from the date of purchase to reserve (not use) their stay in a Canal Quarters lockhouse.

To use a gift certificate that someone has given you, select the appropriate house and click on “Book Now” to open the availability calendar and reservation page. Select the night(s) you’d like to spend in the lockhouse in the availability calendar. Then scroll down the page and you’ll see the registration form. At the top of that form is a field for you to enter in your gift certificate’s number.

Gift certificates may be transferred to other dates, following the normal rescheduling policies, but may not be transferred to other houses. Gift certificates will expire one year from the date of purchase. This doesn’t mean you have to stay in the house within one year, only that you must apply the gift certificate to a reservation.

Gift certificates cannot be refunded.

Can I cancel my stay? Are there refunds?

More than 30 days before your stay, you may choose to:

  • Take advantage of a one-time opportunity to reschedule your stay to another date, up to one year in advance. A rescheduled stay cannot be rescheduled again. If a rescheduled stay is cancelled, all payments will be forfeited.
  • Cancel your stay and receive a refund, less a $15 processing fee.

Between 30 days and 72 hours of your stay, you may choose to:

  • Take advantage of a one-time opportunity to reschedule your stay to another date, up to one year in advance. A rescheduled stay cannot be rescheduled again. If a rescheduled stay is cancelled, all payments will be forfeited.
  • Cancel your stay and forfeit all payment.

Within 72 hours of your stay:

  • You may cancel with full forfeiture of your payment. There is no option to reschedule within 72 hours of your arrival.

A note on requesting refunds: All proceeds received from the Canal Quarters program go toward rehabilitating, preserving, maintaining, and the general upkeep of seven nearly 200-year-old lockhouses and the staffing and resources to do so. We will certainly correct any mistakes that we have made, but we ask that you consider allowing funds to stay in the program as a donation to a unique interpretive program in a national park. Thank you!

I didn’t receive my confirmation email/What is in the confirmation email?

Double-check that you entered your email address into the reservation correctly, then check your spam box. Our confirmation emails occasionally end up there. If you still don’t see anything from us, please email us at [email protected], and we will resend the confirmation email to you. 

What’s in the confirmation email?

    • Your unique registration number and confirmation code
    • Cancellation and rescheduling policy
    • Information about your stay, such as dates and address of the lockhouse
    • Directions and maps
    • Your four-digit code to the lockbox
  • Parking permit with the dates of your stay on it. Print out one copy per vehicle staying overnight
  • Arrival/Departure Checklist – print this out, or retain a digital copy for your review.
  • Canal Quarters User Agreement – you may wish to print this out or be able to access it on your phone

What amenities are provided in each lockhouse?

Amenities are listed on each Lockhouse’s landing page. For an in-depth, comparative list of our rustic and full-amenity lockhouses, please click on the following links:

Rustic Amenities List

Full-Amenities List

What house supplies should we bring?

Linens and towels are NOT provided. Please bring the following:

  • Sheets, blankets/sleeping bags. Mattresses have only plastic covers on them. 
  • Please note that quilts are for interpretive display only and should not be slept with.
  • Bath, hand, and kitchen towels
  • Any cooking supplies beyond a few basic saucepans and frying pans, spatulas, wooden spoons or chopping knives, especially if you have a large or specialty meal planned. Place settings for up to 8 people are provided in each lockhouse.
  • All houses except Lockhouse 6 have a fire ring with a grate for cooking outside. Cookware for use over a fire is limited, so please plan accordingly.

Bad weather policy?

Rarely, we may need to cancel your lockhouse stay due to conditions such as heavy weather, flooding, icy roads, or an issue with the house. We will notify you with as much notice as possible and offer you the opportunity to reschedule your stay or receive a refund. 

If conditions are less than ideal but a stay in the house is still feasible, we may be able to offer you the choice to stay, reschedule or receive a refund. Guests are responsible for watching the local weather ahead of time and planning accordingly. When in doubt, contact us with any questions.

Can I drive to the lockhouse?

All lockhouses are located immediately adjacent to the C&O Canal Towpath. Lockhouses 6, 10, 21, 22, 25 and 49 are accessible by car and include nearby parking. Lockhouse 28 is located on the towpath about 3/4 of a mile from available parking. Visitors may not drive on the towpath.

Canal Quarters parking is available near all locations and is marked by special signs. A parking permit will be included in the confirmation email and should be displayed on the dashboard of your vehicle throughout your stay. National Park Service law enforcement rangers will check to see this permit, as overnight parking is not permitted within the Montgomery County and Washington, DC, sections of the park.

Can I use this program if I am a through-hiker or biker?

Absolutely! The C&O Canal welcomes over 5 million people every year who come to hike and bike the towpath. With the opening of the Great Allegheny Passage, many recreational enthusiasts now regularly make the trip from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Washington DC. The lockhouses in the Canal Quarters program offer an alternative to the park’s hiker-biker campgrounds by allowing a visitor to experience the history of the canal in a more meaningful way. While the Trust cannot make any special considerations for someone who wants to register for multiple lockhouses in a several day period, the online registration provides a calendar to show each lockhouse’s availability. With enough prior planning, a multi-day trip should be feasible.

What is the maximum occupancy?

The maximum occupancy for all Lockhouses is 8 guests. Camping around the lockhouses is strictly prohibited. If your party exceeds the maximum occupancy, those individuals are encouraged to stay at a nearby approved park campground or make other arrangements.

However, for day use, the Lockhouse and its surrounding grounds may be able to accommodate additional guests. Please contact us at [email protected] for inquiries concerning groups larger than eight persons who will not be staying overnight.

Can I have day visitors at the house?

Sure! They do not need an overnight parking permit and will therefore need to depart before sunset. Group leaders who reserved the house remain responsible for all guests.

Can we camp at the lockhouse?

No. Camping is permitted only in the park’s designated campsites. Unfortunately, this does not include the yard or land around a lockhouse, even for registered guests.

Can we hold an event such as a birthday party or a wedding at the house?

Yes, the lockhouses can provide a beautiful backdrop for a special day. Before reserve the house, please consult the park’s permits page for information on any necessary permits.

Is water available?

Visitors are strongly encouraged to bring their own water during their stay since only Lockhouses 6, 10 and 21 have indoor plumbing. Pumps are available at nearby hiker-biker campgrounds, but some are located a considerable distance away from Canal Quarters lockhouses. Further, these pumps are only available mid-Spring to late Fall and are not operable during the winter. Also note that the water from the pumps is treated with iodine, so visitors with iodine allergies should not drink the water. Pumps are tested once every two weeks. If the pump fails the test, the pump handle will be removed. The Trust is not able to notify visitors if the pump nearest to the lockhouse is unavailable, so bringing your own is the safest option. Water may be taken from nearby streams and rivers and treated with water purification tablets, but neither the Trust nor the Park can assure the safety of the water.

Are there bathroom facilities?

Only Lockhouse 6, 10, and 21 have indoor plumbing, including a bathroom and a shower. All other lockhouses have outdoor toilet facilities. There are no showers at these other locations.

Is there river access?

There are various Potomac River access points all along the C&O Canal. Visit the C&O Canal NHP’s website for detailed information ( Visitors are asked to use existing trails and not create any social trails.

Is there bike or boat storage available?

There is bike storage available at all lockhouses in the basement of the buildings. Smaller boats, such as kayaks and some canoes, may fit into the lower level of Lockhouses 6, 22, 25, 28, and 49. They may also be stored outside the building, but it is advised to bring a lock and a chain for security. Do not store bikes or boats in the main floors of the buildings.

Note that use of electric motorized vessels is allowed only at Big Pool, Little Pool, and canal waters from Lock 68 to Town Creek Aqueduct. Gasoline and propane motorized vessels are prohibited within the park. Personal floatation devices should be used as required by the state of Maryland. Use special care if boating on the Potomac River. Canoeing on the Potomac should be done under the direct supervision of an experienced adult canoeist. The U.S. Weather Bureau provides a taped message on river conditions in the lower Potomac Valley at (703)260-0305.

Are pets allowed?

Park rules specify that all pets be on leashes in the park. Pets are not allowed inside the lockhouses at any time. If you have a service animal, please submit verification prior to your stay.

Parking & Getting into the Lockhouse

How to access the lockhouses?


  • Lockhouse 6 – between 2:00-2:30pm 
      • If you’re traveling by car on a weekday, you must arrive at the house between 2:00 and 2:30pm or after 7:15pm, due to the traffic reversal on the Clara Barton Parkway. You will not have access to the lockhouse by car between 2:30pm and 7:15pm Monday through Friday. 
      • If you plan to arrive after 7:15pm, on the weekend, or via the towpath, you won’t need to worry about this.
  • All other lockhouses – 3:00pm or later


  • Checkout for all lockhouses is 10:00am. 

How do keys and lockboxes work?

Keys and Lockboxes

You will receive a four-digit code in your confirmation email. This code will open the lockbox affixed to the jamb right beside the front door.

To open the lockbox:

  • Push the big black “Reset” button in the center of the box’s faceplate.
  • Enter the four-digit code. 
  • Open the box by pressing down on the black release button at the top. 
  • Take the house key out and open the door. Some houses utilize more than one key (such as a padlock key for a locked firewood bin). 
  • To lock the box again, push the center “reset” button first, then enter the four-digit code. Make sure the key and its lanyard are completely inside the box, then push the faceplate into place.

To view a PDF with more detailed lockbox instructions, please visit the following link: Lockbox User Guide (Printable PDF)

Please store the house keys in the lockbox during your stay. This way, you won’t lose them and you’ll never be locked out. Guests are charged for each lost key.

Parking at the lockhouses?

All lockhouses are located immediately adjacent to the C&O Canal towpath. Lockhouses 6, 10, 21, 22, 25 and 49 are accessible by car and include nearby parking. Lockhouse 28 is located on the towpath about 3/4 of a mile from available parking. Visitors may not drive on the towpath.

You will need to display the parking permit on the dashboard of each vehicle staying overnight with your party, and they must have the correct dates on them. Any vehicles left overnight in the lot without a parking permit displayed could be ticketed by park law enforcement.

If you leave your vehicle overnight anywhere in the park, be sure to bring valuables inside the house with you or leave them at home. Always lock your vehicle. Break-ins and damage can happen in the park, even during the day. 

Can I leave my car there while I enjoy the park for the day?

Yes, but not in the lockhouse-reserved spots. Simply park in a non-Canal Quarters spot and head out on your adventure!

What if someone has parked in our spots?

Sometimes other visitors park illegally in Canal Quarters dedicated spots, which are marked with signs. If you arrive and someone is in your spots, the easiest thing to do is park elsewhere in the lot and then move your car into the Canal Quarters spaces later. They’re usually gone in a couple of hours. But if this is not possible, please call the park’s non-emergency police line at (301) 714-2235, and they will dispatch a cruiser to address the issue. Please understand that the Trust does not have any policing authority in the park and cannot remove visitors for you.

For further questions about parking in the park, please visit here.

Can I arrive early or stay late?

Due to the busy nature of the Canal Quarters program, we’re rarely able to let guests check in early or stay late, including dropping off personal items early, without booking an additional night. Call (240) 202-2625 x190 with any further questions.

ADA accessibility?

At this time, Lockhouse 21 is our only ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible lockhouse. If a guest using a wheelchair will be staying at the lockhouse, please notify us of this when you register. We will install the portable wheelchair ramp before you arrive. The house also has a roll-in shower, Murphy bed on the first floor, and wheelchair-accessible doorways.

At the lockhouse:

Campfire rules and regulations?

All fires must be contained within park-designated fire rings or grills throughout the park; it is illegal to have a fire anywhere else.

All lockhouses except 6 – These lockhouses have fire rings in their yards, which are available for your use.

Lockhouse 6 – This house does not have a firepit. Portable fire pits and camp stoves are permitted outdoors and at least 10 feet from any structure. All other fires are illegal at this house. 

All other types of open flame are illegal, including but not limited to:

  • Fireplaces – these are not functional
  • Candles
  • Smoking
  • Camping lanterns which are not battery-operated

Camping stoves indoors – use these outdoors only, at least 10 feet from any historic structure. Camping stoves which use propane and other gasses can emit extremely dangerous fumes. Never operate these in enclosed spaces.

Is firewood provided?

Firewood is provided by the C&O Canal Trust and regularly monitored at all houses except for Lockhouse 6. In addition, you may collect small “brown and down” wood from the yard and immediate park vicinity around you. Do not cut anything from a living or standing tree or other plant, even if you think it’s dead. Please do not bring your own firewood into the park, as this can introduce invasive species.

Guests are responsible for cleaning out firepits before they leave.

Is alcohol permitted at the lockhouses?

Alcoholic beverages may be consumed inside of the lockhouse structure only, not in the yard, at the firepit, or anywhere else in the park. Laws and regulations still apply.

Is there wi-fi?

No, none of the lockhouses have wi-fi. Visitors should not rely on cell phone reception anywhere along the towpath, especially in western Maryland. However, Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint typically work at Canal Quarters locations.

Will my cell phone work?

Visitors should not rely on cell service anywhere along the C&O Canal Towpath, especially in Western Maryland. However, Verizon, AT&T, US Cellular, and Sprint typically work at Canal Quarters locations.

Will we be sharing the lockhouse with other groups?

No. Only one group may reserve the lockhouses at a time.

What else is there to see and do?

Check out our Plan Your Visit page for ideas and trip-planning support. Don’t forget to download the C&O Canal Explorer mobile app before you leave home. It costs 99 cents and is available on Google Play and the App Store. In addition to helping you plan your trip in the park by providing distances to various park sites, it lets you know which Canal Towns are nearby and what’s available there, including food, restaurants, grocery stores, repair shops, etc.

Check-out & Departure

What should I do when I leave?

Refer to the Arrival/Departure Checklist for the specifics on what you should accomplish before you leave. Essentially, you are responsible for leaving the house in better condition than when you arrived, including cleaning up all evidence of food or trash, putting furniture back where you found it, cleaning out the firepit if you used it, collecting all personal belongings, and closing up the house when you leave. Send us a photo of your completed checklist when you’re done!

Do I need to clean?

Yes, you do! We employ professional cleaning services in Lockhouses 6, 10, 21, and 49, but they only wipe high-touch surfaces. Professional cleaners no longer service Lockhouses 22, 25, and 28. Guests in all houses are responsible for cleaning up the house at the end of their stay, including removing all trash, food, and personal items. Guests that leave a lockhouse and its immediate property messy, damaged, or unlivable for the next guests may incur additional fees and/or federal charges. Please refer to the Arrival/Departure Checklist for guidance on what you should do before you leave

What cleaning supplies are in the houses?

  • Brooms & dustpans
  • Rubber gloves
  • Garbage bags 
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Vacuum cleaner (in Lockhouses 6, 10, 21, and 49 only)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant spray and rags 
  • Dish soap
  • Dish rags or sponges

What do I do with my trash?

The C&O Canal National Historical Park is a trash-free park, which means that all visitors are responsible for taking their own trash out of the park with them when they leave. Taking your trash with you is one of the guest responsibilities and is listed on the Arrival/Departure Checklist. Large garbage bags and other cleaning supplies are provided in the lockhouses for your use.

Can I volunteer at a lockhouse?

Each house is overseen by a group of dedicated volunteers called Quartermasters. They live near the house and take care of small maintenance issues such as weeding flower beds, changing lightbulbs and replacing toilet paper, updating lock codes, responding to some guest issues, and generally tidying up between guest stays. If you’re a history lover and would like to commit an average of two hours of your time to the house each week, please read more about the Quartermasters here and contact us at [email protected]. Thank you!