Maryland is home to some of the most beautiful national parks in America. Whether you want to learn about American history, relax in scenic natural areas or enjoy old-school amusements, there's something for everyone.
For example, you can explore the nation's history at Monocacy National Battlefield or Antietam National Battlefield. Or visit Harriet Tubman National Historical Park to learn about the woman who escaped slavery and became an important part of American history.
The Battle of Monocacy, fought on July 9, 1864, south of Frederick, Maryland, delayed Confederate forces advancing toward Washington and saved the nation's capital. It was a smaller battle than the ones at Antietam and Gettysburg, but it had a significant effect on the outcome of the war.
The battle, fought between Generals Jubal Early of the South and Lew Wallace of the North, prevented an attempt by the Confederates to capture Washington and forced them to retreat to Virginia. It also helped save President Abraham Lincoln's life.
The battlefield was designated a national park in 1935 and has grown to include 1,587 acres. It is one of the few surviving Civil War sites in Maryland that has been preserved to this day. It receives an annual average of 16,000 visitors, primarily families and group tours.
Antietam National Battlefield is a beautiful national park and visitor center in Western Maryland that is home to some of the best Civil War sites and museums. Its scenic foothills and fields along Antietam Creek are dotted with monuments and bronze tablets.
This battlefield is a pivotal moment in the nation's history. It enabled President Abraham Lincoln to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, freeing thousands of slaves throughout the South.
The site also shaped how battlefields would be memorialized in the future. On the first Saturday in December, Antietam hosts one of the most moving tributes in the country: a night driving tour amid 23,000 candles commemorating those who died at the Battle of Antietam.
On the morning of September 17, 1862, a 12-hour battle between Union and Confederate soldiers erupted at the site of Antietam Creek. The fighting left over 23,000 people dead and wounded, making it the bloodiest day in American military history.
Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland, but she escaped to the North to help free her family and dozens of other slaves. After a dozen trips south, Tubman settled in Auburn, New York, and lived out her life as an abolitionist and women’s rights advocate.
During the Civil War, she served as a spy, scout, nurse and cook. She also joined a raid on the Combahee River in South Carolina to rescue more than 700 enslaved people.
She was known as the “Moses of her people” for her courageous work. After the Civil War, she bought a home in Auburn and continued her abolitionist activities, including the fight for women’s suffrage. She also established the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged.
Hiking is a popular activity in national parks, and at Catoctin Mountain Park, you can experience some spectacular views. The park is home to 25 miles of trails that range from easy to strenuous, with scenic vistas including Chimney Rock, Thurmont Vista, and Blue Ridge Summit Overlook.
The park also has a visitor center with exhibits about the natural and federal history of the region, as well as a bookstore and restrooms. For more information, see the park's website.
New immersive exhibits tell the park's history, including a chance to build your own log cabin, listen to President Franklin D. Roosevelt talk about his fireside chat and sit in front of a panorama view of Chimney Rock.
During the early 1900s, the Catoctin Mountains were one of the first Eastern mountain ranges to be turned into a national park. This was done as a demonstration to regenerate the forest after timber harvesting and charcoal production caused soil erosion. It was also during this period that President Franklin D. Roosevelt established his presidential retreat, today's Camp David, in these mountains.