Visiting the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall (Photo Guide)

The Lincoln Memorial is one of DC’s most iconic sights. The grand columns and massive Abraham Lincoln statue inside are a must stop if you’re visiting Washington DC. Located on the west side of the National Mall at the end of the Reflecting Pool the memorial is enjoyable from all angles.

The main focal point of the Lincoln Memorial is a 175-ton statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting that is 19 feet tall. Lincoln sits facing the Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool looking out on the columns of the Memorial.

From the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial you can see the Washington Monument and Capitol on the far end of the mall.

Sunrise Inside The Lincoln Memorial
Sunrise from inside the Lincoln Memorial

I highly recommend stopping by the Lincoln Memorial for sunrise since you can get a great photo of the Washington Monument from the steps with the reflecting pool.


Lincoln Memorial Pictures

Here are some of my favorite pictures of the Lincoln Memorial that I have taken over the years. Sunrise is by far my favorite time to be at the Lincoln Memorial.


How to get to the Lincoln Memorial

Many of the metro stops are about a mile away from the Lincoln Memorial so you’ll need to walk a bit to get to the memorial. The best metro stops for the Lincoln Memorial are Foggy Bottom (0.9 miles away) and the Smithsonian (1.2 miles away) metro stop.

You can typically find hourly parking on Ohio drive SW which is a couple of blocks away. If you are parking at sunrise (which typically has tons of parking) you can park on Rock Creek and Potomac parkway which has spots on both sides of the road near the memorial.

The Lincoln Memorial is completely free to visit, you can wander as you please inside and out. Plus you can visit the small gift shop inside the main hall for postcards, etc. There are also public restrooms located underneath the memorial but frequently have a line.

Lincoln Memorial on Google Maps

Photography Tips for the Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is by far one of my favorites places to photography in Washington DC. No matter the time of day there is always something grand to capture.

The Lincoln Memorial is often busy with tourists during the day. Since it’s open 24/7 I would recommend going in the middle of the night or sunrise if you are trying to avoid crowds.

Photographer planning a trip to DC?
Read: Best Places to Take Pictures in Washington DC

You are allowed to use tripods on the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial. The only place tripods aren’t allowed at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and interior. If a park ranger sees you using one in those areas they typically will tell you about the tripod rules. Just use common sense and make sure you aren’t blocking any walking paths with your tripod and you shouldn’t have any trouble.

Photographers at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

I recommend bringing a wide angle lens will allow you to capture the grand nature of the area including looking up at the columns, Lincoln’s interior room, and reflection on the Reflecting Pool.

Using a zoom lens you can capture details such as the state names on the top of the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

If you have a telephoto lens you can also capture the US Capitol and Washington Monument from the sides of the Lincoln Memorial or Reflecting Pool.


Lincoln Memorial Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Lincoln Memorial stand for?

The Lincoln Memorial was built to honor the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Located on the west side of the National Mall in Washington DC it faces the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol.

When was the Lincoln Memorial built?

The Lincoln Memorial took 8 years to complete and was finished in 1922.

What hours are the Lincoln Memorial open?

The main chamber of the Lincoln Memorial and the grounds around it are open 24/7. Restrooms, and gift shop and museum are open during the day, see hours on the National Park Website. Note that during special events the Lincoln Memorial may be closed.

How many steps does the Lincoln Memorial have?

The Lincoln Memorial has 87 steps. That includes 58 steps from the chamber to the plaza and 29 steps from the plaza to the Reflecting Pool. The 87 steps represent Abraham Lincoln’s iconic ‘four score and 7 years ago’ speech during the Gettysburg Address (a score is 20 years). During open hours there is an elevator to take you to the main chamber as well.

What is underneath the Lincoln memorial?

Under the Lincoln Memorial is a large cave area with dirt floors and concrete walls that isn’t accessible to the public. On the first floor below the main chamber there is also a small museum, restrooms, and an elevator for the public.

Is there parking at the Lincoln Memorial?

There isn’t parking directly at the Lincoln Memorial. You can find spots fairly close though on Ohio Drive SW, Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, or just parking around the National Mall.

Can you take pictures in the Lincoln Memorial?

Yes! Photography is allowed and encouraged at the Lincoln Memorial. It truly is one of the best places to photograph in all of Washington DC. Just note that tripods aren’t allowed in the main chamber or on the steps.


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