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National Parks in Maryland Back to Top
Antietam National Battlefield
Established by Act of Congress on August 30, 1890, this Civil War site marks the end of General Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North in September 1862. The battle claimed more than 23,000 men killed, wounded, and missing in one single day, September 17,1862, and led to Lincoln's issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Antietam National Cemetery
Antietam National Cemetery is one of the 130 cemeteries of the National Cemetery System, a system that began during the Civil War. There are 4,776 Union remains (1,836 or 38% are unknown) buried here from the Battle of Antietam, South Mountain, Monocacy, and other action in Maryland. All of the unknowns are marked with small square stones. These stones contain the grave number, and if you look closely on a few stones, a small second number represents how many unknowns are buried in that grave. There are also a few of the larger, traditional stones that mark unknown graves. In addition, more than 200 non-Civil War dead are also buried here. Veterans and their wives from the Spanish-American War, World War I and II, and Korea were also buried here until the cemetery closed in 1953.
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a 2,174-mile footpath along the ridgecrests and across the major valleys of the Appalachian Mountains from Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in northern Georgia. The trail traverses Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.
Assateague Island National Seashore
Storm tossed seas, as well as gentle breezes shape Assateague Island. This barrier island is a tale of constant movement and change. Bands of wild horses freely roam amongst plants and native animals that have adapted to a life of sand, salt and wind. Special thickened leaves and odd shapes reveal the plant world’s successful struggle here. Ghost crabs buried in the cool beach sand and tree swallows plucking bayberries on their southward migration offer glimpses of the animal world’s connection to Assateague.
Baltimore-Washington Parkway
Opened in 1954, the parkway is a 29-mile scenic highway that connects Baltimore, Maryland with Washington, D.C. The part of the parkway from Washington, D.C. to Fort Meade, Maryland is managed by the National Park Service. Although the first concept of Parkway design was envisioned by Pierre L'Enfant in his 18th century plan, the concept of a parkway in Washington, D.C. was not approved until 1902. At that time, Parkways were designed for use by bicyclists and horse-drawn carriages.
Catoctin Mountain Park
In the 1930's, after years of making charcoal to fuel the iron furnace, mountain farming, and harvesting of trees for timber, land was purchased to be transformed into a productive recreation area; helping to put people back to work during the great depression. Beginning in 1935, the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area was under construction by both the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Originally planned to provide recreational camps for federal employees, one of the camps eventually became the home of the Presidential retreat, Camp David. The Presidential retreat is not open or accessible to the public, but the eastern hardwood forest of Catoctin Mountain Park has many other attractions for visitors: camping, picnicking, fishing, 25 miles of hiking trails, scenic mountain vistas, all await your exploration.
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
The C&O Canal follows the route of the Potomac River for 184.5 miles from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, MD. The canal operated from 1828-1924 as a transportation route, primarily hauling coal from western Maryland to the port of Georgetown in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of original structures, including locks, lockhouses, and aqueducts, serve as reminders of the canal's role as a transportation system during the Canal Era. In addition, the canal's towpath provides a nearly level, continuous trail through the spectacular scenery of the Potomac River Valley. Every year millions of visitors come to hike or bike the C&O Canal in order to enjoy the natural, cultural, and recreational opportunities available.
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network
First thoughts of the Chesapeake Bay often bring up images of crabs and oysters. But, as the largest estuary in North America, the Chesapeake Bay has touched and influenced much of the American story – early settlement, commerce, the military, transportation, recreation and more. The Bay and its surrounding 64,000 square mile watershed hold a treasure trove of historic areas, natural wonders and recreational opportunities. Experience the diversity of the Chesapeake Bay through the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network – a system of over 120 parks, refuges, museums, historic communities and water trails in the Bay watershed. Each of these sites tells a piece of the vast Chesapeake story.
Clara Barton National Historic Site
McLean, VA
Clara Barton National Historic Site commemorates the life of Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross. The home served as the headquarters and warehouse for the organization. From this house, Miss Barton organized American Red Cross relief efforts for victims of natural disasters and war.
Fort Foote Park
Fort Washington, MD
Eight miles downriver from the capital, Fort Foote was considered "a powerful enclosed work" by its chief engineer, "and the most elaborate...of all the defenses of Washington." The long oval earthwork was constructed on Rozier's Bluff from 1863 to 1865 to strengthen the ring of fortifications that encircled Washington, D.C., during the Civil War. Fort Foote was designed to protect the river entrance to the ports of Alexandria, Georgetown, and Washington and replace the aging Fort Washington as the primary river defense. The fort was named for Rear Adm. Andrew H. Foote who died in 1863 from wounds he received in combat the previous year. Over the massive rammed-earth parapets, two 15-inch Rodman guns and four 200-pounder rifled Parrotts had muzzles trained down the Potomac River. With a deafening roar, the Rodman cannon could hurl 440-pound shells for three miles. Siege and field guns were stationed to fire on any party attacking from land. Companies of the 9th New York Heavy artillery worked to build and arm the fort. The last in the ring of forts and batteries to be abandoned when peacetime returned, Fort Foote continued in active status until 1878. It was briefly reactivated as a training site during World War I. Today the National Park Service has cleared paths around the ruins of what is considered the best preserved Civil War fort in the region. Remounted on carriages, two Rodman guns loom in shadows under the trees, the river still in their sights.
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
“O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,” a large red, white and blue banner? “Whose broad stripes and bright stars . . . were so gallantly streaming!” over the star-shaped Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, September 13-14, 1814. The valiant defense of the fort by 1,000 dedicated Americans inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Regardless of the “rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air” the defenders of Fort McHenry stopped the British advance on Baltimore and helped to preserve the United States of America – “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Following the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, the fort never again came under attack. However, it remained an active military post off and on for the next 100 years. It became an area administered by the National Park Service in 1933, two years after Key's poem became this country's National Anthem. Of all the areas in the National Park System, Fort McHenry is the only one designated a National Monument and Historic Shrine. Fort McHenry is located in Baltimore.
Fort Washington Park
Picturesque Fort Washington sits on high ground overlooking the Potomac River and offers a grand view of Washington and the Virginia shoreline. Today, only one silent gun stands behind the masonry wall-the last armament of the powerful fort that once guarded the water approach to our Nation's Capital. The old fort is one of the few U.S. seacoast fortifications still in its original form. When ocean-going warships had wood sides and carried smoothbore cannons, no enemy would attempt to ascend the river before destroying the fort. But changing technology made the fort useless. Our government built concrete emplacements to meet the threat of iron-sided ships and rifled guns. When they became obsolete the post was turned over to the infantry and finally became a military training facility. Over 200 years of army presence has left the park with a diverse group of military structures and a rich history of service to our country and the Nation's Capital. The 341 acre park offers an assortment of recreational opportunities. Picnic areas can be reserved for group activities and fishermen try their luck along the shore. There are also hiking and biking trails and a playground for children. It is not unusual to see eagles circling the river or deer feeding in the park during morning and evening twilight. You can always discover something interesting at Fort Washington Park.
George Washington Memorial Parkway
The George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) preserves the natural scenery along the Potomac River. It connects the historic sites from Mount Vernon, where Washington lived, past the nation's capital, which he founded, and to the Great Falls of the Potomac where the President demonstrated his skill as an engineer. Developed as a memorial to George Washington, the Parkway may be used on any day to travel to exciting historical, natural, and recreational areas. These places are all linked by this planned and landscaped road, the first section of which was completed in 1932 to commemorate the bicentennial of George Washington's birth. Considered a commuter route by many local residents, the GWMP offers the traveler much more than convenience. It is a route to scenic, historic and recreational settings offering respite from the urban pressures of metropolitan Washington. It also protects the Potomac River shoreline and watershed. The parkway provides a pleasant day from Mount Vernon to Great Falls, passing through the same lands George Washington frequently traveled by horse. The Parkway links a group of parks that provide a variety of experiences to millions of people each year.
Glen Echo Park
Glen Echo began in 1891 as a National Chautauqua Assembly "to promote liberal and practical education, especially among the masses of the people; to teach the sciences, arts, languages, and literature; to prepare its patrons for their several pursuits and professions in life; and to fit them for the duties which devolve upon them as members of society." By 1900, Glen Echo was on its way to becoming a premier amusement park, and it served the Washington area as such until 1968. Today the park has come full circle, the land and the historic buildings a back drop for a rich arts education program. Since 1971, the National Park Service at Glen Echo Park has been offering year-round activities in dance, theater, and the arts for the surrounding communities and for visitors from across the country. The park also administers an artist-in-residency program providing the public with an opportunity to see artists at work. There are concerts, demonstrations, workshops, and festivals during the warm months as a part of the Chautauqua Summer season. In addition, the antique hand-carved and hand-painted Dentzel carousel, saved by community effort, operates four days a week from May through September, and the Gallery and Bookshop features park artists in its exhibits.
Greenbelt Park
Greenbelt Park is a retreat from the pressures of city life and a refuge for native plants and animals just twelve miles from Washington, D.C. Long before colonial settlers appeared here, trees and flowers covered these rolling hills and wildlife roamed the woodlands. Algonquin Indians hunted this land in competition with other smaller tribes. A balance existed between the land and its plants, animals, and native people. Then the colonists arrived. Trees fell and forests gave way to farmland. Wildlife retreated to the frontier. For the next 150 years, people cleared the land, plowed the fields, and planted tobacco, corn, and other crops. The rich fertile soil returned high yields. The people did not give back to the land as much as they took. The land wore out, producing less each season and farming ceased. The land was left bare and defenseless. Erosion caused many scars before nature could slow the process with new growth. Since the early 1900's the land has been recovering.. Today the mixed pine and decidious forest testifies to the land's ability to recover.
Hampton National Historic Site
Hampton offers an exceptional opportunity to learn about an important part of American history, our aspirations, our values, and the moral choices we have struggled with through the years. The park preserves a vast estate from the 1700s. Its centerpiece is an elegantly furnished Georgian mansion set amid formal gardens and shade trees. When it was finished in 1790, Hampton was the largest house in the United States. It is the story of a seven generation family business, early American industry and commerce, and changing cultural tastes. It is also the story of the economic and moral changes that made this kind of estate life obsolete. Most of all, Hampton is the story of people -- enslaved African Americans, indentured servants, hired industrial and agricultural workers, and the estate owners -- who made this lifestyle possible.
Harmony Hall
Harmony Hall is in the Broad Creek Historic District, the first historic district formed under Prince George's County preservation law. The house is an 18th century Georgian country house that architecturally ranks as one of the great early plantation houses and an outstanding early colonial house of Maryland. The front of the house faces the Potomac River and remains much as it appeared in 1766, the estimated time of construction.
Monocacy National Battlefield
Frederick, MD
Known as the "Battle That Saved Washington", the battle of Monocacy on July 9, 1864 between 18,000 Confederate forces under General Jubal Early, and 5,800 Union forces under General Lew Wallace, marked the last campaign of the Confederacy to carry the war into the north. One of the objectives of this campaign was to capture Washington, D.C. Although this battle was a military victory for the Confederates, it was also a defeat. Time spent for battle cost the Confederates a day's delay in marching on the federal capital. General Lew Wallace's defense along the Monocacy bought critical time to allow Washington to be reinforced. Early's raid would be thwarted and the war would be taken to the south for the rest of the war.
Oxon Cove Park & Oxon Hill Farm
Oxon Hill, MD
The primary feature of Oxon Cove Park is Oxon Hill Farm which operates as an actual working farm, representative of the early 20th century. You can see a farm house, barns, a stable, feed building, livestock buildings and a visitor activity barn. It exhibits basic farming principles and techniques as well as historical agricultural programs for urban people to develop an understanding of cropping and animal husbandry. From the 1890's until the 1950`s, Oxon Hill Farm was operated by patients from St. Elizabeth Hospital. It provided therapy as well as food for the patients at the institution. The land area varies from low flat river shoreline to high river terraces with intermediate rolling hills created by a reclaimed sanitary landfill which existed on the site until the mid-seventies.
Piscataway Park
The tranquil view from Mount Vernon of the Maryland shore of the Potomac is preserved as a pilot project in the use of easements to protect parklands from obtrusive urban expansion. The project began in 1952 to preserve the river view as in was during George Washington's day. Piscataway Park stretches for 6 miles from Piscataway Creek to Marshall Hall on the Potomac River.
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
Five trails are currently recognized as segments of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail: - the 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail between Ohiopyle and Seward, Penn., managed by Laurel Ridge State Park, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; - the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage between Cumberland, Md., and Ohiopyle and between Pittsburgh, Penn., and Ohiopyle, managed by an alliance of organizations and agencies; - the 184.5-mile C & O Canal Towpath between Georgetown (in the District of Columbia) and Cumberland, Md., managed by Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park; and - the 17-mile Mount Vernon Trail and the 10-mile Potomac Heritage Trail in northern Virginia, managed by George Washington Memorial Parkway.
Suitland Parkway
Suitland Parkway is a limited access scenic roadway that was opened during World War II on December 9, 1944, to serve as a rapid transit road between Camp Springs (later renamed Andrews Field) in Prince George's County, Maryland, to Bolling Field Air Force Base, the Pentagon and downtown Washington, D.C. Today the Parkway is a dual lane roadway used by visitors and commuters approaching the nation's capital from the east. The White House frequently uses the Parkway, as well as congressional and military personnel and foreign dignitaries who fly into and out of Andrews Air Force Base (AAFB). The Parkway corridor is often the first image foreign heads of state get of the United States. Suitland Parkway begins in the District of Columbia, and extends 9.35 miles to Maryland Route 4.
Thomas Stone National Historic Site
Port Tobacco, MD
The story of Thomas Stone is not just the story of man who signed the Declaration of Independence. It is about a peace loving man, who only after realizing he had no further options for peace, pledged his life, fortune, and sacred honor toward the vision of an independent America. It is about a devoted family man who took in six other family members upon the death of his father, and when his wife became gravely ill, put his national aspirations on hold to spend more time with her and their children. When you visit Thomas Stone National Historic Site, you are truly taking a step back in time. Whether it is the restored manor house, or the collection of 19th century outbuildings,or just the quiet and solitude, there is something for everyone here. Come spend some time here and learn of this hidden jewel in the national park system. Located in Charles County, Maryland, Thomas Stone NHS is 25 miles south of Washington D.C.


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