The Rock Creek Park Map Viewer (available by clicking the Open Park Map tool) can display an incredible amount of information about Rock Creek Park. You choose which information you want to see.
Different types of information are displayed in different "layers"—one map layer shows natural communities, one shows soils, one shows trails, and so forth. These map layers are listed and described below.
Tip: Check out the Map Viewer Tutorial to learn how to use the Rock Creek Park Map Viewer to your best advantage.
Descriptions of Map Layers
Below are the map layers available for Rock Creek Park, grouped by category. They are listed in the same order as found on the Map Features tab in the Rock Creek Park Map Viewer.
Explore descriptions of map layers by category:
Natural Communities and Ecological Systems category
Natural Communities map layer
Shows the location and extent of the eight different natural communities in Rock Creek Park. This map layer covers every part of the park “wall-to-wall,” so it includes not just natural communities, but also semi-natural and not-so-natural communities. The Natural Communities map layer is turned on as the default setting of the Map Viewer.
Ecological Systems map layer
Shows the location and extent of the four ecological systems in Rock Creek Park. This map layer covers every part of the park “wall-to-wall,” so it includes not just ecological systems, but semi-natural and not-so-natural communities as well.
Natural Features category
Streams and Open Water map layer
Shows Rock Creek, as well as its tributaries. It mostly shows larger water features, not every small creek or pond, but it does show the water-filled moat around Lion/Tiger Hill at the National Zoo!
Topography map layer
Shows topographic lines (lines connecting points of equal elevation), using meters as the unit of elevation. The red lines indicate multiples of 10 (80 meters, 90 meters, etc). As you zoom in, white lines appear between the red ones, giving more detail. When you’re zoomed in as far as you can go, each white line represents an elevation difference of 1 meter from the next line.
Soil map layer
Shows the location and extent of various soil types, displayed in a “wall-to-wall” fashion that covers every part of the park. (In areas covered by roads, parking lots, or buildings, the soil is mapped as “urban complex.”) The information about soils can be viewed three ways: by the name of the soil formation, by a textural description, or by the fertility (good, mixed, fair, poor).
Surficial Geology map layer
Shows the location and extent of various deposits of sediment in the park, including ancient river gravels, more recent sediments deposited by Rock Creek on its floodplains, and landslides. Some parts of the park have no sediment on the surface, so this map layer is not a “wall-to-wall” layer like the Bedrock Geology map layer.
Bedrock Geology map layer
Shows the location and extent of the bedrock underlying the park, displayed in a "wall-to-wall" fashion that covers every part of the park. The information about bedrock can be viewed two ways: by the name of the geologic formation (Laurel formation, for example) or by the chemistry of the bedrock (from basic to very acidic, with several gradations in between).
Points of Interest category
Good Places to See Natural Communities map layer
Shows 16 spots in the park, all of which are along trails, where you can see a good example of a particular natural or semi-natural community.
Natural Highlights map layer
Points out specific places to see rock outcrops, fish ladders, interesting plants, non-native plants, pre-Civil War trees, and more.
Historic Sites map layer
Shows the location of each of 23 historic sites in Rock Creek Park, including 7 Civil War forts, 7 historic quarries, a Civil War cemetery, lime kilns, the Old Stone House (built in 1765), Peirce Mill, and more.
Memorials and Statues map layer
Shows the location of almost two dozen memorials and statues, most of which are outside the central part (the original parcel) of Rock Creek Park.
Park Amenities category
Park Boundaries map layer
Shows the boundaries not only of the main part of Rock Creek Park, but also the boundaries of the many other parcels of land administered by the park, including Glover Archbold Park, Battery Kemble Park, Dumbarton Oaks Park, the Fort Circle Parks, to name a few. Altogether, Rock Creek Park administers 99 distinct areas totaling more than 2,800 acres.
Visitor/Admin/Park Facilities map layer
Shows park headquarters, park maintenance buildings, the Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium, the Center for Urban Ecology (CUE), police stations, and more.
Restrooms map layer
Shows the location of the 10 restrooms in Rock Creek Park.
Recreational Facilities map layer
Shows the location of picnic areas, playgrounds, ballfields, the Rock Creek Public Golf Course, Rock Creek Park Horse Center, a horse ring, fitness trail, tennis courts, the Carter Barron Amphitheater, community gardens, and more.
Park Roads map layer
Shows all the roads in Rock Creek Park, paved and unpaved, including those in the golf course.
Weekend/Holiday Road Closures map layer
Shows the roads in Rock Creek Park that are closed to motor vehicles on weekends and federal holidays, for use by hikers and cyclists.
Parking Lots map layer
Shows the locations of parking lots, along with information about size (from “multi-car” to “1-2” cars).
Bridges map layer
Shows the location of more than almost 40 park bridges—some on roads and some on trails—and six DC bridges over the Potomac (three of them are the 14th Street bridge—northbound, southbound, and HOV).
Trails map layer
Shows the location of all the trails in Rock Creek Park, which total more than 30 miles. Note: You can view this layer two different ways—using the Map Features Tab or the Build a Hike tool—see the Map Viewer Tutorial for more information. Tip: See Trail Information for descriptions of all the trails.