The “Old Line State” is a prime place to camp for those looking to explore the Mid-Atlantic region. It boasts an impressive set of woods throughout the state, so nature is always close by. Combine that with some fantastic coastal cities and easy access to Washington D.C., and you’ll love camping nearly anywhere in Maryland. Its peak season runs from late May through September, though there are year-round campsites too.
Where To Go Camping in Maryland
While associated mainly with Washington D.C. and Ocean City, Maryland actually has plenty of camping options to choose from. With several parks and campsites on the coast as well as plenty of state forests further inland, “Free State” can be enjoyed any time of the year.
Given its close proximity to many gems in the Mid-Atlantic region, from the coast to the Appalachian Mountains, there’s a lot of variety in Maryland’s campgrounds. RVs and travel trailers will find well kept resorts full of amenities, and tent campers looking to get out into nature will the love the state’s wooden areas.
Best Times to Go Camping in Maryland
Summer in Maryland tends to see the highest visitation numbers, but it’s not the ideal season to be in the Old Line State. This peak season is hotter and more humid, meaning campers will likely want to stick to the coastline during the warmest months of the year. Luckily, some of the best camping in Maryland is found oceanside, where the windy breezes cool you down.
Besides the seashores, western Maryland is also relatively comfortable during the summers, with several state forests to visit in that section of “Little America”. Places like Oakland, MD, one of the state’s furthest points west, only see summer temperatures average in the upper 70s under normal circumstances. Towns further east, like Baltimore, see summer temperatures around 90 degrees F.
Fall is pleasant through most of Maryland, with early fall being one of the best times to visit Assateague Island National Seashore. While the state doesn’t have the same vast amount of fall colors as some of its neighbors, that’s a high bar to compete against. Maryland is still a fantastic fall foliage destination, especially in several of its state parks like Tuckahoe and Elk Neck.
Coastal Maryland will take a while to cool down, meaning fall and spring are going to be comfortably warm in the eastern section of the state. Those looking to make the most of Maryland’s warm weather should stay on the Atlantic Ocean side.
Some of the most popular coastal destinations slow down after the summer season, so mid-to-late fall and early-to-mid spring are minimally crowded in this off-season. Note that seasonal towns will operate at a lesser level during the off-season, so plan accordingly; not everything stays open year-round.
Winters in Maryland can get chilly, and temperatures will drop below freezing. Though, as expected, the coast stays moderate. The furthest western portions of the state, like Oakland and the surrounding area, see triple-digit inches of snow. Even Ocean City drops below freezing overnight during the winter, though daytime temperatures hover around 50°F.
National Park Service Sites in Maryland
Maryland has 27 total National Park Service sites (NPS), and three of them offer camping. Like its neighboring states, many of its sites are historical parks and national monuments, meaning federally-managed camping options are minimal here. However, the three options here are still well worth the time to visit.
- Assateague Island National Seashore
- Catoctin Mountain Park
- Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
State Forests in Maryland
41 of the 50 US states have at least one national forest. Maryland, however, is not one of them. However, what Maryland does have (along with 37 other states) is a system of state forests.
While often overlooked, it’s actually quite common to find state forests throughout the US, of which Maryland has 11. Note that state forests and national forests have different regulations, so don’t assume you can free camp here as you can in most national forests.
- Potomac-Garrett State Forest
- Green Ridge State Forest
- Savage River State Forest
- Elk Neck State Forest
- Stoney Demonstration Forest
- Cedarville State Forest
- Doncaster Demonstration Forest
- St. Inigoes State Forest
- Salem State Forest
- Chesapeake Forest Lands
- Pocomoke State Forest
Best Free Camping in Maryland
Maryland, like many states in the mid-Atlantic region, doesn’t have a lot of federal lands to work with. Just 3% of Maryland is federally managed, and the Department of Defense has about half of that land, meaning camping options are sparse, even for military personnel.
The National Park Service and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) each account for roughly a quarter of the remaining federal land. FWS has a campground just across the state line in Virginia but no locations in the state of Maryland itself.
Some of the most popular options for primitive camping include Deal Island Wildlife Management Area, Swains Lock Hiker/Biker Campsite near Potomac, MD, and Fifteen-mile Creek Campground near Little Orleans, MD.
Maryland State and Public Parks
Many of the state’s campgrounds are state-run, with a few notable exceptions. Luckily for campers, Maryland has a wide-ranging system of state parks. The Old Line State has 54 state parks and 20 of them offer camping. These 10 are some of the most popular options for camping.
- Susquehanna State Park
- Martinak State Park
- Swallow Falls State Park
- Elk Neck State Park
- Deep Creek Lake State Park
- Fort Frederick State Park
- Rocky Gap State Park
- Assateague State Park
- Patapsco Valley State Park
- Point Lookout State Park
RV Resorts and Unique Stays
With several summer destinations and tourist-friendly cities, Maryland has plenty to offer in the way of RV resorts and fun glamping opportunities. Whether you’re on the coast or further inland, there are lots of unique stays available. These five are some of the most exciting.
- Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort: Williamsport
- Savage River Lodge
- Buttonwood Beach RV Resort
- Cherry Hill Park
- Sun Outdoors Ocean City
Nestled just below the Mason-Dixon line in the Mid-Atlantic region, it’s indisputable that Maryland is great for campers. With a robust state park and state forest system complementing its 31 miles of seashore, the “Old Line State” is a splendid camping destination to put on all bucket lists.