Riverbend Park Audio Transcript
Fairfax County’s riverfront park has floodplains, forests, ponds, streams and meadows bordering the Potomac River. And it’s that location along the river that makes Riverbend Park a very special place.
The park is on a large bend in the Potomac River. It’s part of the Potomac Gorge -- one of the rarest ecosystems on the East Coast. When you visit, you’ll see globally rare plants and animals among the park’s 418 acres.
The river brings pieces of nature -- seeds and soil -- from the Appalachian Mountains. They settle where the river bends. As a result, at Riverbend you’ll see an unusual diversity of plant life that early American Indians saw.
People have been here a long time. Native Americans hunted on this land, and traded and traveled along this waterway for more than 12,000 summers and winters.
At Riverbend, You can watch the seasons change -- wildflowers like bluebells and trout lilies in the spring, migratory birds in the summer, sycamores and maples exploding in color in the fall, turkeys on an acorn search and bald eagles hunting over the river in the winter.
The two and a-half mile Potomac Heritage Trail is a great connection to Great Falls Park or to Northern Virginia Regional parkland. Check with staff for trail information. Some trails are easy, some are challenging, some appropriate for equestrians and some for mountain bikes.
Fishing at the park is excellent from shore or a boat, especially for smallmouth bass. There’s a public boat launch and a marina in the park. This is kayak, canoe and rowboat water, often shallow and rocky. The park has boat rentals from May through October. Staff can give you the latest updates on river levels, boating conditions and fishing information.
Park facilities include picnic tables and a pavilion that’s available spring, summer and fall on a first-come, first-served basis.
The park has a picnic shelter that’s available by reservation. The number to call is 703-324-8732.
There is no swimming. It’s prohibited. There’s current that can be potentially dangerous.
Park hours are posted at the site. The gate is locked at closing time.
Among the park’s excellent events are skywatching programs that take advantage of the park’s remote location.
Two buildings at the park host programs. The nature center at 8814 Jeffery Road is open only for scheduled programs, groups and appointments. For information, call 703-759-9018.
The other main building is the visitor center at 8700 Potomac Hills Street. That’s right by the launch ramp, near the picnic area, and it’s the main gathering spot in the park.
The visitor center has live animals, seasonal exhibits, a nature library, a naturalist on duty during open hours, and a small snack bar and gift shop. Click on the Visitor Center link on the website for more about the building.
On the Riverbend website you’ll find a link to natural attractions. That link includes a checklist of birds seen at the site. The Trails link has details about some of the hiking in the park, including stroller hikes, short hikes and jaunts over a mile. The River link fills you in on what the Potomac offers and what precautions to take. The Programs/Events link has the what-to-do-at-the-park information.
Click on the Directions link for the roads to Riverbend. There are narrow, winding roads on the way to the park. So drive carefully, and we’ll see you soon at Riverbend Park.