Riverbend Park

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Visitor Center Open Weekdays 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. Weekends open noon - 5 p.m.

8700 Potomac Hills Street
Great Falls, Virginia

John Callow,
Manager

Riverbend Park On Your Own

Things to See and Do at Riverbend Park

There's no doubt that Riverbend Park is one of the prettiest parks in Northern Virginia. It's on the Potomac River, just upstream from Great Falls National Park. Riverbend has diverse habitats that afford the chance to enjoy nature in all seasons. Hardy visitors on snowy days may delight in wildfowl on the river and bluebirds in the trees. Summer visitors enjoy ruby-throated hummingbirds zipping around trumpet creeper. And, of course, there are Canada geese and white-tailed deer. Remember, though, that removing or harming any natural resource in a park is prohibited by law.
 
Spring is wildflower time in the park. Many species of spring ephemerals grace the river banks from March to June. Carpets of Virginia bluebells decorate the trails in spring, usually beginning in mid-March and peaking in early April. The park hosts an annual Bluebell Festival each spring. Spring beauties, wild ginger, Dutchman's breeches and trout lilies are common. As the seasons progress, yellow wingstem and pink lady's thumb give way to purple asters and yellow goldenrods. 
 
Riverbend is a superb place for birdwatching. A bird checklist compiled by staff, volunteers and local birders includes 191 species that have been observed in the park. Another 19 birds that have been recorded historically are listed. Spring and fall migrants are a particular highlight. For the dedicated birder, the park's meadow is a year-round resource. A walk along the river provides views of many warbler species. In winter, look for red-headed ducks, tundra swans and buffleheads.
 
Riverbend is great for fans of reptiles and amphibians. Snakes, salamanders, frogs, skinks and turtles are abundant. Riverbend staff participate in several national "herp" surveys with particular emphasis on amphibians.
 
There's plenty of hiking in the park, and the Potomac Heritage Trail runs through Riverbend. The 1.8 mile walk from Riverbend's visitor center to the cascades and the visitor center at Great Falls National Park takes about 45 minutes.
 
Riverbend's visitor center has an excellent exhibit on Native American life, restrooms and a small gift shop. A naturalist is on hand during open hours. There's a large deck outside the center with chairs and terrific views of the river. Picnic tables are nearby, and there's a rentable picnic area. Evening is a lovely time to picnic in the park, because light from the setting sun plays across the trees on the Maryland shore. Bald eagles and osprey sometimes cross the skyline.
There is plenty of access to the river, including a launch ramp. Fishing, especially for smallmouth bass, is good in this section of the Potomac. This is good canoe, kayak and paddleboard water. The park rents boats and fishing gear. 

Programs and Organized Activities

Riverbend hosts birthday parties and public programs that include exercise programs, astronomy festivals, wagon rides, fishing and kayak trips on the river, and campfires. There are scout adventures and school field trips. Along with the Bluebell Festival in spring, there's an Indian Festival each September that draws large crowds.