Archive - Great Falls of the Potomac and the Potomac River Gorge

August 19, 2018

Great Falls panorama8-4-12 (2)

Each Sunday we present a notable item from our archives. This EPOD was originally published August 20, 2012.

Photographer: Rich Keller 
Summary Authors: Bonnie J Keller; Jim Foster

This panorama shows Great Falls of the Potomac River, just a few miles upstream of Washington, D.C. Great Falls is actually a series of rapids that extend about two thirds of a mile (1.2 km) in length. The Potomac River drops about 76 ft (23 m) over this distance. Great Falls is located at the northern end of the Potomac River Gorge, an area roughly 12 mi (19 km) long, where the Potomac has carved down through the underlying metamorphic rocks (including mica schists and gneisses) to create cliffs as high as 60 ft (18 m) tall. The rapids and cascades here are quite popular for kayaking and can be treacherous -- some runs are considered class V skill level. Most folks who visit Washington focus their attention on the city's monuments, museums and great mall, but Great Falls, though not as lofty as Niagara Falls, is certainly worth a visit. Photo taken on August 4, 2012 it's a panorama of three photos stitched together, captured on the Virginia side of the Falls.