Finding the perfect campground can be challenging when you live in a place as densely packed as the Washington, D.C. metro area. If you're new to the camping scene, or already a camper but not from the mid-atlantic- deciding where to camp in this beautiful part of the country can be overwhelming. Below are four Quick Trip ideas from the Washingtonian (washingtonian.com) to jumpstart your camping bug!
1. SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK -- Mathews Arm
The Mathews Arm campground in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park is off Skyline Drive at mile marker 22—making it the park’s closest campground to DC. The spot provides easy access to great hiking trails, including one of our favorites, which leads to a view of 93-foot Overall Run Falls, the park’s tallest waterfall. Each of the 164 campsites has a fire ring and a picnic table. A general store is nearby, though being close to the park’s northern entrance makes it possible to pop into the town of Front Royal to visit restaurants, shops, and wineries. Mathews Arm is about 90 miles west, or a two hour drive from DC. Perfect for a weekend getaway, especially in the fall to catch the changing leaves.
2. A SLICE OF HISTORY -- Francis Beach Campground
Civil War buffs should love Virginia's Bull Run Regional Park. It features 41 wooded tent campsites—each with a picnic table, grill, and fire ring—as well as bathhouses with hot showers and toilets, all across I-66 from Manassas National Battlefield Park. The battlefield covers the sites of both the Battle of Bull Run, and the Second Battle of Manassas. There are museum exhibits, ranger-led walking tours, and Civil War reenactments on selected summer weekends. Besides walking paths at the battlefield, the park has its own hiking trails, including the start of the 18-mile Bull Run–Occoquan Trail. Other diversions you don’t find at most campgrounds include an archery range, a water park, and a disc-golf course. Bull Run is about an hour drive from DC.
3. MARYLAND COAST -- Assateague Island Campground
Camping on the beach at Assateague Island
in Maryland can be a magical experience—for those who come prepared. The park has 350 campsites, separated from the main beach by a dune, and campers can feel the ocean breeze, stroll along the water’s edge, and swim, kayak, canoe, or fish. Plus, of course, watch the famous wild horses, which wander freely. But unlike wooded campsites, the island isn’t sheltered from the weather. To prevent tents from being blown away, pick up a pack of tent stakes for the sand. A shade canopy is also recommended for a break from the sun’s rays. Plus, don't forget the bug spray as the insects can be a bit much during July and August if camping on a day without breeze. Assateague is about a three hour drive from D.C., but well worth it.
4. HAVE IT ALL -- Greenbrier State Park
At Greenbrier State Park
in Maryland, you don’t have to choose between beach and mountains: You can pitch a tent in the forests of the Appalachian Mountains, adjacent to the Appalachian Trail, and also be footsteps from a sandy beach. The beach in question borders the park’s 42-acre manmade lake, which has swimming, boat rentals, and fishing. Besides the AT, the park offers other hiking paths along with mountain-biking trails. Each of the 165 shaded campsites includes a fire ring and a picnic table, and the bathhouses have hot showers.
Quick Trips courtesy of the Washingtonian