Three observation areas provide safe panoramic viewing areas overlooking the dangerous falls. Visitors can hike on the towpath along the river and climb weighty boulders overlooking the falls. Pets are permitted but must be kept on a leash at all times.
There are 15 miles of trails for hiking and exploring and five miles of trails suitable for horseback riding and bicycling. Trail maps are available at the Visitors Center. The blue-blazed River Trail, beginning just downstream of the falls, follows the river along the cliff top and offers views of Mather Gorge, named for the first director of the National Park Service. Above the visitor center, visitors can follow the upper Canal Trail and see the head of the falls and the Aqueduct Dam, a six-foot manmade structure built in the 1850s which still supplies water to the Washington area.
The canal boat that usually operates in Great Falls is out of service for safety reasons. Plans are underway to build a replacement boat.