Great Falls & Mather Gorge

john1027

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Mar 5, 2010
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Alexandria, VA USA
The Great Falls of the Potomac and Mather Gorge are in my opinion the most spectacular natural landmarks in the Washington, DC area. The Potomac River Gorge is a 14-mile stretch of the Potomac River that extends from the Key Bridge in the District of Columbia to the Great Falls. The falls and the gorges can be seen from the overlooks and trails on the Virginia-side at the Great Fall National Park or on the Maryland-side within the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. All of this is located just 15 miles upstream from downtown Washington, DC.

The National Park Service (NPS) describes the falls as...cascading rapids and several 20 foot waterfalls with a 76-foot drop in elevation over a distance of less than one mile. The Potomac River narrows from nearly 1,000 feet, just above the falls, to between 60 and 100 feet wide as it rushes through Mather Gorge, a short distance below the falls. The Great Falls of the Potomac display the most spectacular fall line rapids of any eastern U.S. river. The falls are popular for kayaking and are classified as Class 5+ on the International Scale of River Difficulty, which equals extreme difficulty. Certain spots are Class 6, un-runnable, and dangerous. Below the falls and through Mather Gorge things are much more manageable, and the waters rank Class 2-3 which range between novice to intermediate.

The river in this area is always powerful and dangerous but is especially so at this time of year after most of our snow melted after a few days of warm weather. I’ve posted images before from this park but wanted to put up a few from the GF2 and a couple processed as HDR images.

GF2 & PL 20mm (5 image autobracket & PP w/Nik HDR Efex Pro)


GF2 & PL 14mm (5 image autobracket & PP w/Nik HDR Efex Pro)


GF2 & PL 14mm (5 image autobracket & PP w/Nik HDR Efex Pro)


GF2 & 20mm (5 image autobracket & PP w/Nik HDR Efex Pro)


GF2 & PL 45mm


GF2 & PL 45mm


GF2 & PL 45-200mm (@ 200mm)
 

Streetshooter

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Dec 15, 2009
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Phila, Pa USA
They all look great John but the 2nd to last really puts thing in perspective.
The HDR looks good and not overstated...
Good job my friend...don
 

john1027

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Mar 5, 2010
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Alexandria, VA USA
Yes he did! He had paddled about a mile upstream to reach that point and then "bouldered" across the rocks to put into the white water.

It is hard to get a true perspective of this area as most of the shots I have ever taken there are from up on the cliffs or from scenic overlooks. There is a great book by pro photographer Roy Sewall that truly is a gem of a book. He had the advantage of taking some shots from a helicopter.

Link: Home
 

Narnian

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Richmond, VA
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Richard Elliott
Nice shots!

I used to take dates there when I was in high school and college. :love:

I loved crawling around on the rocks. Used to practice rappelling on some cliffs downstream just up from NSWC Carderock.

Unfortunately all I can find are some Polaroids I took with a 4 x 5 Speed Graphic. Hopefully I will find my old negatives. If not I have an excuse to stop by again next time I am up that way.
 

john1027

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Mar 5, 2010
Messages
305
Location
Alexandria, VA USA
Thanks. I am sure you only took serious dates there. For the $5.00 entrance fee (good for 3 days), someone could schedule a few dates a good rate. I get the year-long season pass, which is a bargain at $20.00 and is good at either the Virginia or Maryland parks. This is the time of year to go when it is colder and the leaves are off the trees and before the crowds in the summer. Last week when I was there, I saw maybe six people in three hours.
 

cucco

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Dec 28, 2010
Messages
136
Hey...you're in my neck of the woods! (Or I'm in yours).

Great Falls is awesome! If you were in the area during hurricane Isabel (is that the one? I can't remember - the one where Alexandria was so flooded that people were kayaking through old town?), Great Falls was INSANE. I actually saw a guy kayak it at that time. It had to be some of the most treacherous white water I've ever seen!

Great pics of one of my favorite areas!
 

Narnian

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Richmond, VA
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Richard Elliott
Entrance fee? What is this entrance fee you speak of? Must be new. Last time I was there was probably 20 years ago with my wife and kids in tow. ;)
 

john1027

Mu-43 Veteran
Joined
Mar 5, 2010
Messages
305
Location
Alexandria, VA USA
Hey...you're in my neck of the woods! (Or I'm in yours).

Great Falls is awesome! If you were in the area during hurricane Isabel (is that the one? I can't remember - the one where Alexandria was so flooded that people were kayaking through old town?), Great Falls was INSANE. I actually saw a guy kayak it at that time. It had to be some of the most treacherous white water I've ever seen!

Great pics of one of my favorite areas!
Thanks and I was here for Hurricane Isabel (some of it ended up in my basement).

This picture puts the historic flood levels of the river in perspective. Last spring, it got to the base of the pole at one point. If you know and enjoy the park, I'd highly recommend Roy Sewall's book I linked to earlier. I've seen it at B&N, and it is in the park's gift shop also.

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

Narnian

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Aug 6, 2010
Messages
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Location
Richmond, VA
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Richard Elliott
I was in the park shortly before (and after) hurricane Agnes in 1972 (see the water mark on that one). :eek:

The park was closed and I had to sneak in - I remembered a little used path that was not marked so I could claim innocence if caught. :tongue:

The main bridge had washed away so I was not able to access much. And I only had an Argus C3 at the time and I cannot find my pics. :frown:
 
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