As one of the first states, Maryland is one of the most influential states in the United States, and you will find many national parks in Maryland detailing its vital history!
The long history of Maryland, its influence in the US, and Maryland’s diverse landscapes allow the state to be home to numerous designated national historical sites, natural sites, and more.
If you love nature and history, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our list of Maryland national parks worth visiting!
* Please make note that some of these national parks are designated national historical landmarks; we lumped them all together if they fall under ‘national’ status.
Also, some of these are in multiple states, but if they are also in Maryland, they are listed here!
Historical Sites and National Parks in Maryland
1. Antietam National Battlefield
Location: Sharpsburg, Maryland
Visit one of the best-preserved Civil War sites in the USA at Antietam National Battlefield. This is where Union and Confederate soldiers fought on September 17, 1862, during the Battle of Antietam.
It became the bloodiest day of the Civil War and in all of American history, with 23,000 people killed, wounded, or missing.
It was the first Confederate invasion into the North and what prompted President Abraham Lincoln to issue the first copy of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Today, people can visit the battlefield to learn more about its history. The best place to start your visit is the Visitor Center. In the summer, visitors can also tour the Newcomer House and the Pry House Field Hospital Museum.
You may take an 8-mile auto tour through the park, encompassing 11 stops and starting at the Dunker Church. For more battlefield walks and talks, check out the Ranger programs.
You can also explore the area by hiking along Bloody Lane, Cornfield, Sherrick Farm, or Snavely Ford Trails.
Private tours are also available. The entrance fee for a 3-day pass is $10, and a 3-day vehicle pass is $20.
2. Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Location: many hikes start at Greenbrier State Park, Boonsboro, Maryland
Stretching about 2,200 miles, the Appalachian Trail is regarded as the longest hiking trail in the world.
Over 2 million people hike it every year. The trail passes through the ridge crests and major valleys of the Appalachian Mountains, traversing 14 states.
In Maryland, the trail crosses 40.9 miles and passes through historical sites that hikers will often check out on the way.
It opened as a continuous trail in 1937 and was recognized as the first National Scenic Trail. This famous trail is managed by the National Park Service, the United States Forest Service, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
More than 4,000 volunteers contribute to the maintenance of the trail. The path is popular among section hikers, short-term hikers, and thru-hikers.
More than 250 shelters and campsites are available for hiking enthusiasts. Travelers are expected to come prepared for weather conditions and use designated campgrounds.
The trail is open year-round, and it’s completely free.
3. Assateague Island National Seashore
Location: Berlin, Maryland
Have breathtaking adventures and relax at Assateague Island, which boasts sandy beaches, maritime forests, salt marshes, and coastal bays.
Assateague Island National Seashore was established in 1962 to protect the island and its natural environment. The 37-mile beach is regarded as one of the best on the East Coast.
This is a great vacation destination with plenty of options for recreational activities. If you enjoy canoeing or kayaking, you’ll find many designated launch areas and available rentals.
Swimming, surfing, and fishing opportunities will make your recreation complete. Travelers can explore the island by checking out the hiking or biking trails (or even popping down to Chincoteague in Virginia for the day).
Horseback riding is allowed seasonally. Another great option to relax and enjoy your time is camping. The park houses numerous campgrounds with picnic tables and fire rings.
Backcountry camping is also possible with two oceanside and four bayside camping areas.
4. Catoctin Mountain Park
Location: Thurmont, Maryland
Located in north-central Maryland, the park is part of the Catoctin Mountain ridge range.
The park features sparkling streams and stunning views of Monocacy Valley. It maintains 25 miles of hiking trails with varying difficulty levels, from easy to strenuous.
The panoramic vistas encompass Chimney Rock, Blue Ridge Summit Overlook, Hog Rock, and Thurmont Vista. The park provides many lodging opportunities to meet your needs.
Travelers may rent a wooden historic cabin or camp at Camp Misty Mount. Other recreation options in the area include picnicking, fishing, horseback riding, orienteering, rock climbing, and cross-country skiing.
Ranger programs are also organized in the park. You may learn about the history of Catoctin Mountain and the national park or see various exhibits and get maps at the visitor center.
Admission to the park is free.
5. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
Location: Potomac, Maryland
The park was established in 1961 to protect the remnants and original structures of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
For almost 100 years, the canal delivered coal, lumber, and agricultural products to the market, serving as a lifeline for the Potomac River communities.
Today, it’s a unique path for discovering historical, natural, and recreational gems. The activities offered at the park include boating, camping, fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, picnicking, and winter adventures.
Visitors may also join canal boat or ranger-led programs. Ride along the Towpath or Capital Crescent trail to enjoy stunning vistas.
Several hiker/biker campsites with a water pump, picnic area, and firepit are located along the path.
Take into account that the park has no main entrance, and it’s not possible to explore the entire area in one day.
6. Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Location: Berlin, Maryland
The 64,000-square-mile estuary is the largest on the continent, including over 150 rivers and streams.
The Chesapeake Bay spans across six states and provides a habitat for more than 30 species of crabs, shellfish, fish, and other wildlife. Since the 1970s, the bay’s water quality has improved.
Nearly 30 percent of the watershed is composed of agricultural lands, and the region has more than 83,000 farms. Restoring the Chesapeake is vital for the thriving agricultural sector.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service plays a significant role in the bay’s water restoration process.
They maintain various programs to help farmers and forest owners implement conservation practices resulting in improving water quality, developing soil health, and boosting wildlife habitat.
These projects encompass improved grazing systems, restoring wetlands, planting stream buffers, increasing soil organic matter, and other conservation methods.
7. Clara Barton National Historic Site
Location: Glen Echo, Maryland
Clara Barton National Historic Site was established in 1974 to commemorate the life of Clara Barton, a teacher, nurse, humanitarian, and founder of the American Red Cross.
The historic site served as the headquarters of the American Red Cross and is where Clara Barton lived for 15 years.
The building dates back to 1891. It has three stories with 30 rooms and a basement where disaster supplies for victims of war and natural disasters were kept.
The National Park Service has restored eleven rooms, parlors, and Clara’s bedroom. Today, visitors can see how this remarkable woman lived and worked.
They can explore various documents, objects, and photographs showcasing her extraordinary life and humanitarian contribution.
There’s no fee to visit the Clara Barton National Historic Site.
8. Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Built in 1798, Fort McHenry is best known for providing defense to the Baltimore Harbor from the British Navy attack during the War of 1812.
Throughout the two world wars, the US Armed Forces continuously used the fort.
The famous defense of the fort by 1,000 dedicated soldiers inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner, which later became the country’s national anthem.
The best spot to start your visit is the Visitor and Education Center.
Get acquainted with ranger-lead programs and special events, watch the orientation film, and explore the exhibits commemorating the War of 1812 and the Battle of Baltimore.
Find unique books, souvenirs, and postcards at the gift shop. The park area is open daily from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm for recreational purposes and is free of charge.
The historic Star Fort operates daily from 9:00 am-4:00 pm. The fee is $15 for visitors aged 16 years and up. This is a must-visit if you have a weekend in Baltimore (or more).
9. Fort Washington Park
Location: Fort Washington, Maryland
For many years, Fort Washington served as the only defensive fort protecting Washington, DC.
The original building was constructed in 1809. It overlooked the Potomac River and was named Fort Warburton. However, the structure was destroyed during the War of 1812.
Today’s historic fort was built in 1824 and remodeled in the 1840s and 1890s. The expansive park offers hiking and biking paths and scenic venues for picnicking and fishing.
Travelers can explore historic Fort Foote and visit Harmony Hall, the National Colonial Farm, and Thomas Stone National Historic Site. You may also enjoy historical reenactments held at the fort.
The park grounds are open until sunset year-round. Fort Washington has no admission fee. A reservation fee is required for the reserved picnic areas.
10. George Washington Memorial Parkway
Location: Passes through Montgomery County, Maryland
This 25-mile George Washington Memorial Parkway stretches along the Potomac Riverbank, connecting historic attractions from Mount Vernon to Great Falls. The parkway was designed in the 1930s.
It’s dotted with plenty of historic sites, including Arlington Memorial Bridge and Avenue, Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Fort Hunt Park, Fort Marcy, Jones Point Park, Lady Bird Johnson Park, Netherlands Carillon, and the US Marine Corps War Memorial.
A road connects all of the attractions. You can also partake in numerous outdoor activities near the road. For one, you can check out the Mount Vernon trail for bicycling.
Go hiking at one of the multiple trails in Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Fort Hunt Park, or Jones Point Park. These parks also have perfect options for kayaking, canoeing, picnicking, walking, and running.
The George Washington Memorial Parkway operates year-round, 24 hours a day. The parkway headquarters is open Monday–Friday, 8:15 am to 4:15 pm.
11. Greenbelt Park
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
When visiting Maryland’s national parks, you should especially check out Greenbelt Park, which many regard as a retreat from the noisy city.
Known for its safety, peaceful surroundings, and campgrounds, Greenbelt is a gem for nature enthusiasts. The area boasts 172 campsites open year-round.
Campers must pay for the campgrounds through an online reservation system. The camping fee is $20 per night per site.
Those who prefer picnicking can visit Sweetgum Picnic Area, which provides playground equipment, a baseball field, a restroom, and picnic tables. It also has accessible bathroom facilities. Each group can use up to four tables.
Hikers can choose from many trails in the park, including Perimeter Trail, Azalea Trail, Dogwood Trail, and Blueberry Trail.
In addition, park rangers organize a variety of programs for kids. The ranger station is open from 8:00 to 3:45 p.m, seven days a week.
12. Hampton National Historic Site
Location: Towson, Maryland
Hampton National Historic Site, established in 1948, was once part of a huge industrial and agricultural empire.
Seven generations of the Ridgely family occupied it throughout many years. The core of the well-preserved estate is Hampton Mansion, built in 1783–1790 as a summer house.
It was a vivid example of Georgian architecture and probably the largest private residence in the US at the time. The site features outbuildings like greenhouses, stables, barns, gardens, and quarters for the enslaved people living and working there.
The historical significance of the landmark lies not only in the mansion itself but in the numerous stories of people who lived and created there, from owners to indentured servants, free artisans, enslaved African-Americans, and convict laborers.
Check out the extensive museum collection, boasting archeological artifacts, archives, photographs, and artworks.
13. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Location: Washington County, Maryland
Located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, this park is a place where history and nature meet.
The park spans across West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. The area combines historical events with vast recreational opportunities.
It includes the historic center of Harpers Ferry, a key 19th-century industrial center, as well as the site of John Brown’s failed abolitionist uprising. Explore the MD, VA, and WV park’s museums and exhibits, and join the ranger-led programs and tours.
Find books, artwork, and postcards at the Harpers Ferry Park Association’s Bookshop. Hike 20 miles of trails across Civil War battlefields, check out the cliff faces within the park for rock climbing, or go to a designated picnic area for a relaxing lunch outside.
The park is open year-round. The museums and exhibits are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors are required to have entrance passes. The admission fees are $20 for cars, $15 for motorcycles, and $10 per person.
14. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park
Location: Church Creek, Maryland
This national park commemorates Harriet Tubman, a woman who dedicated her life to freedom. In 1849, she escaped slavery and spent the next ten years making numerous trips to Maryland to rescue other enslaved African Americans.
The national historic park was created in 2013. Today, it includes a part of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, where Tubman spent much of her life and where the home of Jacob Jackson is located.
Start your trip at the visitor center, explore the exhibits, and watch an interpretive video about Tubman. The center also features a legacy garden, gift shop, research library, and information desk.
Its operation hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. The area also boasts picturesque natural sites with hiking, biking, and paddling opportunities.
15. Monocacy National Battlefield
Location: Frederick, Maryland
Monocacy was where the Confederacy made its last attempt to capture Washington.
Despite the fact that the Confederates won the battle, the Battle of Monocacy is known as “The Battle That Saved Washington” because Confederate commanders had delayed their tactics.
It took place on July 9, 1864, between 15,000 Confederate and 5,800 Union forces. The battle caused a delay in advancing on the federal capital, due to which Washington was reinforced.
Thus, the war moved to the South. Monocacy was not the largest battle of the Civil War but had a great impact on its course.
Visitors may join the walking trails or take a self-guided auto tour to explore the park. There is no entrance fee.
16. Piscataway Park
Location: Accokeek, Maryland
Piscataway Park is located across the Potomac River and provides a habitat for a vast array of animals and bird species. It’s home to bald eagles, deer, foxes, beavers, and other wildlife.
The park was established to protect the Accokeek Creek Site, Marshall Hall, and the National Colonial Farm. Piscataway features various nature trails, meadows, woodlands, wetlands, a public fishing pier, and two boardwalks.
Recreational opportunities include fishing and boating. Fishing is permitted from the shoreline and at the pier of National Colonial Farm. The park provides kayak launches and boat ramps.
The site is open all day. Accokeek Creek/Boardwalk, Marshall Hall, and Farmington Landing are open during daylight hours. Piscataway Park is free to visit.
17. Thomas Stone National Historic Site
Location: Port Tobacco, Maryland
This historic site was established to preserve the home and property of Thomas Stone.
Stone is best known for being one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. This is where prominent figures of the Stone family lived. The house was declared a national historic landmark in 1971.
The park encompasses Stone’s house with different architectural designs and casual symmetry, the Stone family cemetery where Stone, his wife, and other family members are buried, the tobacco barn, corn crib, and terraces.
Check out walking trails to explore the park, like the Stone Family Cemetery Trail or Outbuildings Trail. The landmark is usually open from March to December.
The operating hours are Thursdays–Sundays from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. The park charges no fees.
18. Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail
Location: Crosses several towns, including Baltimore
Check out this historic trail, following in the footsteps of the nation’s Founding Fathers, and explore the early history of America.
The trail encompasses 680 miles of land and water routes used by the allied armies of General George Washington and French Lieutenant General Comte Jean de Rochambeau.
It stretches through nine states on the East Coast and covers metropolitan areas, scenic trails, historic sites, and national parks. Some major points to stop at include:
- Boston National Historical Park
- Independence National Historical Park
- Colonial National Historical Park
- Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
- Baltimore National Heritage Area
- Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area
- Schuylkill River Valley National Heritage Area
- Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site
- George Washington Birthplace National Monument
- Old Barracks in Trenton, New Jersey
- Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia
- Hale-Byrnes House in Delaware
The route can be traveled year-round. Did we miss any of your favorite historic landmarks and national parks in Maryland? Let us know your favorites in the comments.
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- Maryland in winter
- Maryland in fall
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Megan is a travel blogger and writer with a background in digital marketing. Originally from Richmond, VA, she has lived all around the world (including Germany, Finland, Norway, etc) but her heart always finds its way back to Virginia. This blog is to help encourage travelers to explore the great state of VA… and its wonderful neighbors! Megan has written for or been featured by National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s Travel, the New York Times, and more. She has visited 45 US states and 100+ countries… and wholeheartedly believes that Brunswick Stew is probably the greatest food to ever exist.