1900 Anacostia Drive SE, Washington, DC 20020
Anacostia Park is a National Park Service property in southeast Washington, DC. The park is one of the remarkable natural gems that punctuate the urban landscape of the District. It is valued by local communities for its natural habitats and peace and quiet amidst the bustle of the city. The park contains over 1,200 acres and stretches for over two miles along the shores of the Anacostia River, just above the point where the Anacostia meets the Potomac River.
There are many subsections of this long narrow park. The main section, labelled “Section D” on many maps, is tucked inside of a narrow strip of land on the southeast shore of the river, between the river and I-295 to the east. This section is located just south of Pennsylvania Avenue and the John Philip Souza Bridge and just north of the 11th Street Bridge.
Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, located to the north, is also part of Anacostia Park, but has a separate site description in this Birder’s Guide to Maryland and DC. Open Street Maps has good coverage of the park and its many sections.
Much of the main section of the park contains large fields used for athletics; these may sometimes attract shorebirds such as Upland Sandpiper. Depending on precipitation and tides, there may be exposed mudflats that may host shorebirds, gulls, and terns. The paved, 3.5-mile Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is part of a larger network of some 40 miles of trails along the river, making the shoreline accessible for hikers, bikers, and wheelchair users. Some areas of the park, are wooded and thus attract forest-dwelling birds such as thrushes, vireos, flycatchers, and warblers; these areas are located on the eastern shore of the river to the north of the main section, and on the south half of Kingman Island.
Kingman and Heritage Islands, in the middle of the river, were once part of Anacostia Park, but are now owned by the District of Columbia and managed by Living Classrooms National Capital Region. The islands serve as outdoor classroom and offer a number of educational programs. The north part of Kingman Island is occupied by the historic Langston Golf Course, one of the first golf courses that allowed African-Americans to play; part of the golf course is located on the island and part on the west bank of the Anacostia River. The south part of Kingman Island and Heritage Island contain a network of nature trails and are linked by a footbridge. There is no vehicular access to the islands. See the separate trail map for Kingston and Heritage Islands at the link at left.
Over 180 species have been reported on eBird from Anacostia Park. There are three separate eBird hotspots covering the park:
Geese that are rare for the area, such as Ross’s, Greater White-fronted, and Cackling, have shown up in January or February of some years. Wood Duck and American Black Duck are local breeders and can be found most of the year. Other ducks may be present in winter, including Canvasback, Redhead, both Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, and the three mergansers. Pied-billed, Horned, and Red-necked Grebes may be present in late winter/early spring.
Who would have thought you could find Wild Turkey within the DC boundaries? – but they are here, year-round. A smattering of shorebirds may show up spring through fall, when water levels are low enough to expose mudflats.
The three common local gulls (Ring-billed, Great Black-backed, and Herring) are present year-round, joined in late summer by Laughing Gulls. Lesser Black-backed Gulls are regularly found October through March. Least, Caspian, Common, and Forster’s Terns occur in summer.
Great Egret, Green Heron, and Black-crowned Night Herons are resident from May through September, and Great Blue Heron may be found year-round. In the more wooded or brushy sections, look for flycatchers, vireos, thrushes, and warblers. Fourteen species of sparrows have been reported, and 18 species of warblers.
Paved lots in Section D and in other sections. See trail system map at the link at left.
You can view the park lawns from your car or from paved walkways, making this park accessible to those who are mobility-impaired. Anacostia Riverwalk Trail and adjoining paved trails are wheelchair-accessible. ◾ The historic Langston Golf Course, located within the park, was one of the first in the area to be open to African-Americans. ◾ Numerous athletic fields are available. Other facilities include roller-skating, fitness stations, playgrounds, picnic areas (some with grills) a boat ramp, and fishing areas. See Plan Your Visit for more information. ◾ The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail and adjoining paved trails are great for biking birders. ◾ The Aquatic Resources Education Center (AREC) is a multi-use environmental education and aquaculture center located in Anacostia Park, operated by the DC Department of Energy & Environment in collaboration with the National Park Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service. It is one of three facilities of its kind in the Northeast Region of the United States. AREC features exhibits with fish, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, and aquatic plants that can be found in the rivers, streams, and wetlands of the District as well as in the Chesapeake Bay. Biologists provide free environmental education programs and facility tours to students and the general public on aquatic environments and water resources. ◾ The Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) is a grassroots community organization that is working to restore the health of the Anacostia River and to connect the people who live in the area to the river. AWS offers a full schedule of activities on and near the river, along with environmental education programs for all ages. ◾ There are no MOS chapters in DC, but Montgomery Bird Club & Patuxent Bird Club are in the neighboring suburbs. Two organizations, the Audubon Naturalist Society and the Audubon Society of DC, hold field trips to birding spots in the District and the Greater Metropolitan DC region.
By car: From the DC Beltway/I-495, take Exit 11 for MD Route 4/Pennsylvania Avenue westbound. In 6.7 miles, make a sharp left to go south on Minnesota Avenue SE. In 450 feet, turn right to go west on Nicholson Street SE which will take you into the park in about 0.2 miles. Immediately after crossing under I-295 and before reaching the riverbank, a parking lot will be on the left. Or you can proceed past the parking lot and just before the riverbank, turn left to go southwest on Anacostia Drive. Another parking lot is located on the left in about 300 feet. NOTE: As of Spring 2019, there is road construction on and near Nicholson Street that may make the park inaccessible by this route. See updates at https://www.nps.gov/anac/planyourvisit/find-your-way-to-anacostia-park.htm.
By Metro: The nearest Metro Station for the main part of the park is Potomac Avenue on the Orange Line, about 1.1 miles from the park. From the Metro Station, walk southeast on Potomac Avenue to reach Pennsylvania Avenue. Turn left to go east on Pennsylvania Avenue, crossing the bridge over the Anacostia on the pedestrian walkway. On reaching the other side of the bridge, make a left and go down the pedestrian ramp to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. You are now in the main part (Section D) of the park.
Washington, DC: Constitution Gardens, East Potomac Park (Hains Point) and the Tidal Basin, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, National Arboretum
Prince George’s County: Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Colmar Manor Community Park & Anacostia River Trail, Fort Foote Park, Fort Washington (National) Park, Oxon Cove Park & Oxon Hill Farm, Piscataway (National) Park: National Colonial Farm, Boardwalk, Wharf Road/Farmington Landing & Marshall Hall, Schoolhouse Pond
Upland Deciduous Garden or ArboretumLawn, Ballfields, Golf CourseUrban or Small Town Landscape Old Fields, Shrubby Meadows Mud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Rivers & Streams
Ball Fields or Other SportsBeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)Birding By CarBoardwalkBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingFree - No Entry FeeHabitat Restoration ProjectHiking/Walking TrailsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Community and Urban ParksHiker-Biker Trails (Paved)National Parks & MonumentsThe Rivers of the Western ShoreWater Trails