Washington DC

Parking at the National Zoo - Washington DC


Is there street-parking near the National Zoo?

The National Zoo is located within Washington DC, so street parking in the neighborhood is very limited.

On Connecticut Avenue NW, there are a few parking meters within 4 blocks of the Zoo, but all the meters have a time limit of 2 hours. Note that two hours is not enough time to enjoy your time at the National Zoo and be back to your car on time. In fact, it will take about four hours to see the whole zoo.

Also, the sidestreets off of Connecticut Avenue NW are residential zoned parking areas. This means that you must have a parking decal showing that you are a resident of the neighborhood. If you do not have the decal, you will get a parking ticket if you park more than 2 hours.

When do the parking lots open and close?

The parking lots at the National Zoo open at 6:00 a.m. every day. Many of the animals are not on exhibit before 10:00 a.m. but the National Zoo is a beautiful park to walk around in the early morning. Animals you may see before 10:00 a.m. include the cheetahs, Mexican and maned wolves, giant pandas, Przewalski's horses, beavers, cranes, flamingos, and several other birds.

From April 1 to October 31, parking lots close at 8:00 p.m.

From November 1 to March 31, lots and grounds close at 6:00 p.m.

Parking lots at the National Zoo

The National Zoo has five parking lots A, B, C, D, E.

Parking Lots A and B are the closest lots the zoo entrance on Connecticut Avenue NW and to the Visitor Center. These lots typically fill up fast because there is less walking to most of the zoo exhibits.

Parking Lot C is for employee and volunteer parking. When parking here, use the wooden walkway and stairs just across from the parking lot to walk up to the Reptile House and onto the main path of the zoo.

Parking Lots D and E are at the bottom of the hill near the Kids Farm (petting zoo). These parking lots fill up last. If you are bringing kids to the zoo, parking here may be a good choice because you will be walking uphill to see the zoo exhibits at the begining of the day, and downhill at the end of the day when everyone is tired and ready to go home. Note: the rental booth for strollers is located near parking lots D and E. Strollers must be returned there at the end of your visit.

Parking spaces are reserved for disabled guests in Lots A, B, and D.

How much does it cost to park at the Zoo?

Admission to the National Zoo is FREE. Also, if you are a Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) member, parking is FREE. If you are a nonmember, parking at the National Zoo costs:

$10 for the first hour.
$15 for two to three hours.
$20 for more than three hours.

Every dollar you spend at the National Zoo supports the education, research, and conservation efforts at the zoo.

Parking for school buses

Bus parking is FREE. If your trip is in the fall or winter, you do not need to make advance reservations. During the peak season (April 11 to June 24), priority is given to buses arriving from local schools, which must make reservations to park at the National Zoo.

If you are coming between June 25 and August 26, the National Zoo won't be able to offer free bus parking. During this time, school buses can reserve parking only with the purchase of a Group Tour Package. There is no bus parking available on weekends unless the group is registered for a Group Tour Package.

Washington DC Trip Reservations for school bus parking and/or for a Group Tour Package can be made by calling Guest Services at (202) 633-4480, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Make reservations at least two weeks (longer is recommended) in advance of your trip. Guest Services begins taking reservations on March 1 annually. Note: Fall and winter are the best times to bring school groups. The National Zoo isn't very crowded and the animals like cooler weather.

Buses must always drop off and pick up students in the secure Bus Lot, located between Parking Lots A and B. Once the students have disembarked, buses will either be directed to the appropriate parking lot, or asked to leave the Zoo for the duration of the trip. There is limited bus parking in the neighborhoods surrounding the National Zoo. Note: It is illegal and dangerous to let your students on and off the bus from Connecticut Avenue and the lower Zoo.

Parking for tour buses

Tour bus parking is extremely limited, and space can be guaranteed throughout the year only to tour groups that book one of the Zoo's Group Safari Packages. Reserved bus parking is included in the group packages offered by the National Zoo. For more information, contact Guest Services at (202) 633-4480 or email grouptours@fonz.org.

Reminder: Tour buses may not drop off visitors on Connecticut Avenue NW. This is both unsafe and illegal. Buses without reservations will be allowed to enter the National Zoo to discharge their passengers at the Bus Loading/Unloading Area (park in Parking Lot E, unload visitors near Parking Lot B) and will be allowed only to return approximately 10 minutes before they are scheduled to pick up their passengers. For more information, contact the National Zoo at:

National Zoological Park
Friends of the National Zoo, MRC 551
Smithsonian Institution
PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012
202-633-4455 (school groups)
202-633-3025 (non-school groups)
202-673-7800 (TTY)
Email: education@fonz.org (school groups only)


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