Home to the largest cascading waterfall in Maryland and more than a few picturesque views, Cunningham Falls State Park is the perfect stop for your next RV vacation. This vast park stretches for over 6,000 acres in the city of Thurmont, Maryland and offers plenty of recreation. Since the park is so large, there are two campgrounds to choose between while you stay in the park.
While you aren't at the campsite, you can get lost in the endless acres of forest, although hopefully not literally. Maps are available to help you navigate the park and see all of the points of interest, including the large 43-acre man-made lake and the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace. The many miles of hiking trails vary in difficulty and length, so double check before you set off that you and all members of your party can handle whatever trail you select. Visitors also enjoy fishing, hunting, picnicking, boating, and wildlife viewing.
If you happen to visit the park during March, make sure to check out the annual Maple Syrup Festival where you can learn all about making syrup, watch demonstrations, and even sample the sticky, delicious treat. The park is open year-round, even though campsites at the William Houck Area are only available from April through October.
RV Rentals in Cunningham Falls State Park
Transportation in Cunningham Falls State Park
Cunningham Falls State Park is located near Thurmont, just off Route 15, so you shouldn't have any trouble getting to the park. Once inside the park, it should be easy to get around, although some rounds are a bit curvy. There are several parking areas around the park, including at the campground and near Cunningham Falls.
Whether you choose the William Houck Area or The Manor Area for RV camping, both are easy to locate, resting just three miles west and three miles south of Thurmont, respectively. The William Houck Camping Area is considerably bigger than the Manor Area, but both have paved roads that you can get your RV through. Some people prefer the Manor Camping Area because the roads are a little bit easier to navigate and not quite as winding. Plus, the campsites have more space between them. Both camping areas have wider main roads going through them with narrower roads leading to the individual campsites, but they aren't too bad to get around.
The trail leading to the waterfall has a boardwalk connected directly to the base of the falls to improve accessibility for families with strollers or people in wheelchairs. Several of the facilities are also handicap accessible so getting around the park shouldn't be too hard. Of course, you should wear good hiking shoes if you plan on traveling by foot because there's quite a lot of walking to do.
Campgrounds and parking in Cunningham Falls State Park
Campsites in Cunningham Falls State Park
William Houck Campground
The pet-friendly William Houck Campground is composed of 139 total camping sites, 33 of which have electrical hook-ups that are suitable for RVs. The campgrounds feature water supplies throughout and bathhouses in the center of each camping loop, as well as a camp store near the parking lot. Dumpsters are located nearby for convenience, but not close enough to stink up your campsite.
The William Houck Campground can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 35 ft in length. This campground is open from April through October. The William Houck area is near the 43-acre Lake and a convenient trail to the falls, which is why many people choose this as their camping spot. You'll be close to all the aquatic action, including boat rentals and the boat launch. This campground also features several cabins that are available for rent.
Manor Area Campground
The pet-friendly Manor Area Campground is much smaller, containing only 31 camping sites, 10 of which are equipped with electrical hook-ups and are large enough for RVs and trailers up to 30 feet long. Each site features a picnic table and grill so you can enjoy some delicious meals on-site. You'll have access to water within walking distance. Some visitors prefer the Manor Area Campground, because it is smaller and provides more privacy. It's also open year-round, making it perfect for an RV trip any time of year.
Not all services may be available if you go during the November through March, but all campground amenities are available April through October. Reservations are strongly recommended since most sites are booked months in advance. There is also a centrally-located bathhouse in the Manor Area Campgrounds that has hot showers and flushing toilets. The Manor Area is popular among history buffs because it is close to the famous Catoctin Furnace.
There are no first-come, first-served campgrounds at this state park.
Seasonal activities in Cunningham Falls State Park
Seeing Cunningham Falls
The 78-foot cascading waterfall seems to be a magnet for people all over. Even if you don't get to see everything at the park, the waterfall is worth taking a special trip. The picturesque landscape will have you reaching for your phone to take pictures as soon as you arrive. How much water is actually in the waterfall will depend on what time of year you go, but the natural rock formations are pretty impressive in and of themselves.
Swimming is not allowed in the Falls, but you will still have plenty of room to swim in the three designated areas of Hunting Creek Lake during the summer months. The lake provides hours of fun for thousands of people a year and is a great destination for families of all sizes. Just be sure to get there before it reaches capacity. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on the sandy parts of the beach, but they can still explore the trails with you. So make sure to pack your swimsuit in your camper.
Fishing is allowed in various parts of Cunningham Falls State Park, but a Maryland Freshwater Sport Fishing License is required for anyone over 15-years-old. You should also brush up on all the rules to make sure you don't cause any trouble. For example, most of the areas where fishing is allowed are available for catch and release and only certain types of lures are allowed. Fishing is allowed at Hunting Creek Lake, Little Hunting Creek, and in the many tributaries of Big Hunting Creek that flows through Cunningham Falls State Park.
If you love boating and own your own boat, you're in luck. A boat ramp is available for launching private watercraft onto Hunting Creek Lake, although you will pay a small service charge. But it's completely worth it, considering you can go out on the lake and relax any time of year, especially during the cooler months when the lake isn't as busy. Keep in mind no gasoline motors are allowed, only electric motors or boats with no motors.
Attending Wildlife Educational Programs
Visitors of all ages will love the popular wildlife educational programs, Scales and Tales. These programs allow you to get up-close and personal with wildlife in a way that you would never otherwise get to. During these programs, you will be able to see and learn more about birds, reptiles, and the special adaptations that animals make in order to survive. Knowledgeable workers put on a fun show that is also educational and teaches about important environmental issues.
Don't forget to bring your bike in your camper. During the off-season, some campsites and services are closed, but the trails are still open and are perfect for bicycling. The trails are especially good for bicycling during the off-season because they're less busy and you don't have to worry about other people as much. With several miles of trails to explore, there's no faster way to get through the park without missing a thing than taking a bike. It is especially beautiful during the fall months when the leaves on the trees are changing colors.