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Top three national parks to visit in Maryland this summer

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

Are you in the weird transition period between the semester’s end and undecided summer plans? Well, in that case, it may be a good idea to visit a few national parks around the state, as it can give you a nice break and time to rejuvenate. 

Here are some noteworthy parks that you can add to your list:

  1. Patapsco Valley State Park

If you have to pick one park to visit, you can’t go wrong with Maryland’s oldest state park, located in Howard County. It extends along the Patapsco River with different locations around the county and has several activities to choose from. It would be ideal to come in a group to enjoy the park’s pavilion and barbecue grill, where you can have a big picnic by the greenery under some shade. And if you do come in a large group, it is almost certain that everyone will find something to do, with activities like camping, hiking along its beautiful trails and biking through its beautiful landscape. What makes some of the park’s trails notable is that plenty of them are by a stream, so you may be able to get your feet wet as you pass by them. 

  1. Swallow Falls State Park 

This park in Garrett County has stunning views and gives its visitors the opportunity to snap photos worthy of their Instagram feed. The park has a rich history and historical figures like Thomas Edison have camped on its premises. The most significant site is Muddy Creek Falls, which is 53 feet high. Additionally, the park is surrounded by the Youghiogheny River, with a bridge running over top. The park’s most notable hiking trail is the Swallow Falls Canyon trail, which encompasses several waterfalls and lasts for about a mile. This park is also a great place for any typical park activities you may think of, including camping, fishing and biking.

  1. Great Falls Park

Although this park technically falls in Virginia, its Tavern Visitor Center, opposite the actual park across the Potomac River, lies in Maryland about a 20-minute drive away from the park. As the name of the park suggests, this park is known for the magnificent views the Potomac River creates as it flows through the landscape’s countless gray rocks. The falls are a spectacular sight and can be viewed from three overlook points that can be accessed through trails. The currents of the water are so strong that swimming and wading are forbidden, but you can still enjoy other activities on the water like kayaking and canoeing. You can also plan to fish, bicycle, climb and horseback ride during your stay here. 

Visiting these state parks may give you the perfect opportunity to reconnect with nature, de-stress from college life and plan a trip with your friends!

Harini Muthu

Maryland '25

Hi! I am Harini Muthu, currently majoring in neuroscience and minoring in Sustainability.