If you are RVing on the east coast of the United States, you need to check out Point Lookout State Park. What makes Point Lookout State Park so special is how the history of the civil war and its preservation are combined with multiple recreational activities. You could fish off the 710ft fishing pier, try your luck on getting a buck in the 240 acre deer hunting area or even check out the apparently haunted lighthouse that was built in 1830. Spooky!
The park is located at the southernmost tip of a peninsula created by Cheseapeake Bay and the Potomac River. This picturesque area is right at the bottom of Maryland's Western Shore, and has remained largely untouched since the Civil War. Point Lookout began as a hospital for wounded Union soldiers during the beginnings of the Civil War, before transforming to become a prison camp for captured Confederate soldiers. Now on the grounds of the prison camp sits a mass grave, holding over 3,0000 Confederate soldiers who died at the camp.
In 1965 - 100 years after the war, Maryland's State Forest & Park Service began the task of developing the 1046 acres that would eventually evolve into Point Lookout State Park. Now the park is a modern day RV paradise all year round, which includes a patrolled swimming beach from Memorial Day weekend through to Labor Day.
RV Rentals in Point Lookout State Park
Transportation in Point Lookout State Park
Point Lookout State Park is easy to access from both Baltimore and Washington D.C. From Baltimore, follow route 97 south to route 3 south. This will turn into route 301, which you then follow south to continue to route 4 south south in Upper Marlboro. You will follow this all the way across the Solomons Island Bridge, where you will then turn left onto route 235 south. Keep going into a town called Ridge and then turn left onto route 5 south. Keep on this road as far as it goes and you will reach Point Lookout.
From Washington D.C, follow to route 4 Pennsylvania Avenue south to Upper Marlboro. Continue on route. 4 south until you cross the Solomons Island Bridge. After the Solomons Island Bridge the first traffic light you come to will be route 235. Turn left to go onto route 235 south and then follow it to Ridge. From there, you will keep on this road as far as it goes and you will reach Point Lookout.
Access to the park shouldn't be too challenging even in a large RV. The terrain is mostly level, so sharp turns are minimal.
Point Lookout State Park is one of Maryland’s most popular parks, so during the summertime weekends and holidays there are a high volume of visitors. The park does close once it has reached full capacity, so remember to reserve a campground spot in advance. When the park is closed due to being full to capacity, individuals and groups with camping reservations will be admitted, since parking is reserved for them.
Due to the remote location there is no public transportation directly to Point Lookout State Park. Despite this, you can catch a ferry to Smith Island once you make it to the park. Departing from within Point Lookout State Park via the marina, the ferry will take you to the only inhabited island in the Chesapeake Bay.
Campgrounds and parking in Point Lookout State Park
Campsites in Point Lookout State Park
Point Lookout State Park Campground
Point Lookout State Park features 143 wooded campsites, with 26 having full hook-ups, and 33 having just electric. Within the campground is an area called the Tulip Loop, which is the area best suited to RV camping. It is a full hook-up loop that remains open year round for self-contained campers. Other facilities at the park for campers include a camp store, pet area, playground and pets are allowed. A total of 6 people (children + adults) are permitted on each campsite at the park. Note that all restrooms close for winterization by November 1 and reopen on April 1. During this time, portable toilets areavailable in the park.
Food is available in nearby Ridgetown if you run out of supplies during your stay. Reservations for Point Lookout State Park can be made through the Maryland Park Service Website. You must reserve your site in advance in order to secure your spot within the campground.
Seasonal activities in Point Lookout State Park
One of the major landmarks of Point Lookout State Park is the lighthouse. Built In 1830 by John Donahoo, the lighthouse stands at the north entrance to the Potomac River. Known as an integral lighthouse, it is considered the oldest of its type in the United States. The light was enlarged in 1880, however it was never automated, and was later deactivated in 1965. You can walk around the lighthouse and check it out up close, and if you are lucky your trip may coincide with a tour of the lighthouse, which happens monthly during the peak season.
If you fancy yourself as a boater, there is a boat launch facility and fish-cleaning station are available for you at Point Lookout State Park. The ramp is located on the banks of Lake Conoy and once launched you can exit through the lake inlet and go out into the Potomac River or up north through to Point Lookout Creek. Boat launching is permitted 24 hours a day, however there are no lights at the ramp. You can also rent canoes and get select supplies at the camp store within the park.
There is no better way to beat the summer heat than by going for a dip, which is exactly what you can do at Point Lookout State Park. The beach area at Point Lookout State Park doesn't just have water, though. The facilities also include showers and restrooms, grills, picnic tables, and a playground. Word of advice, watch out for the jellyfish that sometimes float in to hang out during the summer. Don't let a jellyfish sting ruin your day at the beach!
Civil War Museum
Checking out the Museum is an absolute must if you are in the Point Lookout State Park from May until October. The Museum features an array of historical artefacts from the war, including things such as weapons, writings and information about how the area developed to become a prison camp.
There are also varying annual demonstrations, programs and festivities. During May there are "Blue and Gray Days" that feature artillery and infantry demonstrations, a dress parade and evening programs in Fort Lincoln. June features a Confederate Memorial Service with encampments, sutlers and displays from heritage, historical, genealogical and preservation organizations. If you are in Point Lookout State Park from July through August, you might get lucky and be able to check out the living history character portrayals of confederate Civil War soldiers.
Within Point Lookout State Park there is a zone of 200 acres set aside for deer hunting. To hunt here you must have a valid hunting license and appropriate stamps are required for all seasons, except early muzzleloader. During the early muzzleloader season, archery-only hunting for deer is allowed. Waterfowl hunting is also permitted at two blind sites located in the park. Hunters may enter and then remain on park property outside normal park hours provided that they are performing legitimate, authorized hunting activity.
For the bird-watching enthusiasts, Point Lookout State Park is a renowned area. If the weather conditions are right, during autumn the coastal site is a fantastic migration point. Keep a look out for shorebirds, raptors, and songbirds. If you are in the park during wintertime, Great Cormorants are often in view late November onwards. Brown-headed nuthatches nest in the park and you may be able to spot them near the visitor center or in the campgrounds.
Point Lookout State Park features various fishing areas, including the 710 foot Fishing Pier. This pier is open mid-April until the third week in December, however when closed there are still other opportunities to fish within the park. Fishing is allowed 24 hours a day, year round in the park, with night fishing being quite popular for the seasoned fishermen. You can go night fishing with a valid permit from sunset to 6am. Just remember that all members of your party must have a permit and be actively fishing to stay within the park after hours.