Cliff Jumping in Great Falls

 The Bruised, the Bold, and riding Bareback

Last Sunday some friends and I were feeling daredevilish enough to go cliff jumping in Great Falls. I must say I was feeling rather confident in my abilities, as I had just cliff jumped in Illinois a month ago (read about my camping trip to Illinois). Jumping there was quite exhilarating and fun. I only imagined our Great Falls jump would be the same.

I love the natural scenery the winding drive through Georgetown Pike offers. Just traveling 15 minutes outside of D.C.  transcends you into this whole other place where trees are endless, fresh air is for the taking, and lucky for Ricky, horses were readily available (I’ll explain later).

Once we arrived at Great Falls National Park we began our 10 minute  hike to our destination, the Potomac River.

great fallsSea shells by the river shore.

And this is where our rocky tale begins…

I was mentally prepared to yes, jump from a cliff, but I was totally unprepared to call this place my  final destination.

When we arrived on the river bank and gazed across the river to the monster, 50 ft cliff towering before us, I knew we were in t-r-o-u-b-l-e. Why?  Because I knew we were going to jump any way.

great falls Beautiful view of the Potomac River.

Luckily for us, it hadn’t rained in a while, so the Potomac River’s current  wasn’t overpoweringly strong and we swiftly made it across. We continued our trek on what seemed like the side of a mountain and I could feel my body start to tremble with each increase in elevation. I received no relief when we made it to the top and realized not only was this cliff almost tall enough to touch heaven,  it was a blind jump. As in I would have to take a leap of  faith and hope I jumped far enough to miss the rocks below.   I wouldn’t be able to see where I was landing until….I was already plummeting down….Comforting. My first thought was, “What did I get myself into?”   After seeing one person jump, I knew the only way I would jump would be to go next or I would be stuck up there forever. Of course, there really was no other way down once you climbed up to the peek.

great fallsAhhhh! Jumping off the death cliff.

It took me about three looks over the edge to finally hurdle myself off this cliff.

What happened next seemed like 3000 years. I began falling through the air and actually had time to think, “Oh my goodness, if I don’t land in a perfect pencil this is going to hurt like hell.” Falling through the air and having enough time to think about falling through the air is probably one of the scariest sensations I’ve ever felt. The second scariest was knowing what force I was creating as I tumbled through the air  and realizing the water was going to break my fall. As I hit the water, it literally felt like I fell onto a concrete wall.  And my fall was a fairly uneventful fall, compared to others.

My room mate, Katie, on the other hand did not. Falling at that speed the slightest movement can cause your whole body position to change drastically, and Katie basically did a back flop.    A 50 foot back flop….!!!

The Bruised

cliff jumping at great fallsOwie.

cliff jumping at great falls Big owie!

The Bold

Watching each jumper land one horrific jump after another scared most people in the group from jumping again. Only one, the bold Renato jumped not once, twice, but three times!

Add insult to injury, we found out later it’s actually illegal to swim in the Potomac River in some places and a few people in the group received citations for swimming.

 Riding Barebackrainbow unicorn ricky“You found him riding bareback?”

With the debacle over the police showing up, we actually lost two members from our group, but luckily found one after driving away. How? He was riding bareback on a unicorn… I actually can’t explain. It was a crazy day (and Jenny is pretty darn gullible 🙂 ).

We ended the day at one of my favorite burger joints just around the block,  Ray’s Hell Burger where only our appetites were bold, no one acquired more bruises, and sadly, no unicorns were spotted for bareback riding. It was the perfect place to unwind, enjoy a great burger, and recap our day’s adventure.



Filed under Great Falls National Park, Washington D.C.

4 responses to “Cliff Jumping in Great Falls

  1. Gwyn

    Hi! So, I’m looking to do this for my Spring Break next year and I was wondering about a few things. Were there any places in Great Falls where this is in fact legal? Also, are there shorter jumps than that? Because my friends and I aren’t really looking to jump from anywhere higher than 40 ft. Oh and is it worth it to go to Illinois to Cliff Jump? I’m just really trying to make a plan way ahead of time to prevent it from falling through. Thanks for the help in advance!

    • Hey there, I’m not sure if there are any legal places around Great Falls, VA. As you can see from the post, the place we jumped was really dangerous. I would check out Harpers Ferry, WV and Luray, VA for some good swimming and floating spots.

  2. liz

    hi! how did you get to the spot at great falls? what was the path to get to where you jumped?

    • Hi Liz, Sorry I can’t remember the exact spot. I really wouldn’t recommend trying it. It was a blind jump and high enough to really hurt once you hit the water. If you accidently slipped, it could end poorly.

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