Sandy Point State Park is one of 20 Md. waterfront state parks that offer boat ramps. Photo: Visit Annapolis

Md. State Parks Hit New Attendance Record

It’s not your imagination: there are a lot more people out in the Bay region’s public spaces. Many have tried to spend a weekend day at Sandy Point, Calvert Cliffs, or Patapsco Valley State Park this year, only to find them at maximum capacity.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced this week that 17.1 million people have visited Maryland state parks so far in 2020. That number smashes the previous record—14.9 million in all of 2019. And there are still three months left in the year.

The Maryland Park Service reports that in July alone, state parks attracted 3.4 million visitors. Increases have been seen throughout the state, both for daytime use and overnight camping at state parks. Park use has been on a general upward trend in recent years, but it accelerated dramatically in 2020. Various parks have reached maximum capacity 260 times so far this year, drastically higher than the 10-year average of 79 closures per year.

“As our state continues to face the COVID-19 pandemic, we have consistently reminded the people of Maryland that outside activity is much safer than inside activity,” said Governor Hogan. “We are so pleased to see that Marylanders have heeded that advice by visiting our state parks in record numbers this year to exercise safely, get some fresh air, and spend time with family.”

Of Maryland’s 75 state parks, many take advantage of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. 44 have places to fish, 25 offer access for kayaking and canoeing, and 12 even have boat rentals. Many more, of course, allow for land-based activities like hiking and biking. You can see the State Park Directory online here.

Maryland Lt. Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford is taking on a challenge to visit all 75 state parks through the end of his term. Click track his visits (and maybe be inspired to take the challenge yourself?).

-Meg Walburn Viviano