A Visitors Guide to the Washington Monument

Washington_Monument_evening

The Washington Monument is the tallest structure in D.C. – there is not law that says it has to be, it’s just really tall! Since it reopened after the earthquake in 2011, you can once again take a tour inside and go (almost) all the way to the top!

Here are some of the essential things you will need to know for your visit:

Hours:

The Monument is open every day except July 4 and December 25.  Summer hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day) are 9am–10pm, and the rest of the year is 9am– 5pm, with the last tour leaving 15 minutes before closing.

Getting there:

Via Metro, the monument is nearest to either the Smithsonian Metro or Federal Triangle, both on the Blue/Orange/Silver lines. While the Federal Triangle stop is technically closer, at 12th and Pennsylvania Ave NW, the Smithsonian stop is the easiest – it’s a straight walk down the Mall.  It is right next to the start of our National Mall and All In One tours, so it’s a great activity to do before you take our tour!  (map)

Parking:

There is limited parking in the area and they have strictly enforced regulations. On-street parking along Constitution Ave NW are subject to time limits as well as rush-hour enforcement. We suggest reading about Parking Near the Mall.

Washington Monument arielSecurity:

You will have to go through security before heading into the elevator to go up the Monument, so plan on being there a little before your ticket time.  Items that you may not bring into the Monument: Food and beverages, strollers, large backpacks and purses, guns, knives and other weapons.  There is no storage facility at the monument.

Once you proceed through security your trip into the Monument will take you about 45 minutes, although you can stay at the top and enjoy the view for longer if you wish.  The Washington Monument experience is not just the great view, although that is certainly amazing, especially on a clear day.  There is also history of the Monument itself, and as you travel in the elevator you will get a chance to see several of the special stones that were donated by various groups to the Monument during its construction, decorative stones that honor President Washington.  The ride up is about 70 seconds and you’ll head straight to the top. You can choose how long you stay at the top and can make your way down one level to wait for an elevator down. The ride down takes about 2 minutes as a National Park Ranger will tell you about the view of the special stones viewable when you’re going slower.

Tickets:

It is free to see the Monument, but you will need a timed ticket to get into it.  You can get a ticket by reserving one in advance, which is recommended, especially in the summer months.  Go to http://www.recreation.gov, or call 1.877.444.6777 for individual tickets or 1.877.559.6777 for group reservations.

Washington Monument ticket line dcThere is a $1.50 service charge per ticket.

There are also a limited number of tickets given away each day, beginning at 8:30am.  The tickets are given away at the Washington Monument Lodge, which is on 15th street in front of the Monument (its also where the small gift shop and bathrooms are located).  (Click image to the right to enlarge)

And although you will get so much information on our tours, I just can’t leave you without any trivia:

  • It is the world’s tallest freestanding stone structure, and the tallest obelisk, at 555 feet 5 1/8 inches.
  • There are taller monuments but they are either not all stone, or not a true obelisk, or both.
  • When it was opened in Oct 1888, it was the tallest structure in the world.  For about 6 months, until the Eiffel tower was finished.
  • It was closed in August 2011 after an earthquake rocked DC and the surrounding areas, causing damage to the top of the monument.  There were several cracks and loose stones, and the monument was encased in scaffolding for almost 2 years to repair the damage.

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