Best Tent Camping in Maryland, Evan Balkins, Deep Creek Lake State Park, swimming and camping in Maryland

Best Spots for Camping and Swimming in Maryland

Long, sunny days that seamlessly transition into warm nights are ideal for two of America’s beloved summer pastimes—swimming and camping. When you can combine both, you are essentially winning at summer.

Maryland is bursting with campgrounds that offer an array of scenery and experiences, from the shores of eastern Maryland to the mountains of western Maryland. Even in the crowded central corridor between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., camping and other recreational opportunities abound. If you’re looking to combine some water activities with a night under the stars, check out these swimming-friendly campgrounds.


Deep Creek Lake State Park

Because of its location in such a popular tourist area, Deep Creek State Park doesn’t allow for much isolation. But for those looking not for a backcountry experience but for a wonderful time full of activities, the park is perfect. The 3,900-acre lake offers a paradise of boating, swimming, fishing, and hiking. Its Discover Center offers hands-on exhibits and programs highlighting the area’s natural and cultural heritage. Park rangers and naturalists regularly schedule hikes and evening campfire programs that are always fun and informative. And if you need to escape the majority of the crowds, the campground contains wonderful trails that lead away from the lake.

ADDRESS: Deep Creek Lake State Park898 State Park Road Swanton, MD 21561

CONTACT: 301-387-5563; dnr2.maryland.gov

OPERATED BY: Maryland Department of Natural Resources

OPEN: Mid-April–mid-December

SITES: 101 (plus cabins, shelters, and a yurt)

EACH SITE: Grill, picnic table, lantern post, tent pad, metal food storage container

ASSIGNMENT: First come, first served late April–late May and mid-October–mid-December; reservations otherwise

REGISTRATION: 888-432-camp (2267) or reservations.dnr.state.md.us

FACILITIES: Ball fields, bathhouses, boat rental and launch, dumping station, concessions, swimming beach, playgrounds, shelters

PARKING: 2 vehicles at site, off-site for additional vehicles

FEE: $21.49 plus service charge/night, $27.49 plus service charge/night electric; additional day-use service charge during high season $3–$5

Best Tent Camping in Maryland, Evan Balkins, Deep Creek Lake State Park, swimming and camping in Maryland

Photo from visitdeepcreek.com

Elk Neck State Park

Situated on a peninsula between the Chesapeake Bay and the Elk River, Elk Neck State Park contains a wealth of beauty (though no elk), encapsulated within a real diversity of topography, including beaches, marshes, and forests. Despite this, even on busy weekends, there’s almost always a spot to stay, so you can feel comfortable making a last-minute decision to go and get a walk-in site. Fishing, birding, hiking, boating, and swimming are popular activities.

ADDRESS: Elk Neck State Park 4395 Turkey Point Road North East, MD 21901

CONTACT: 410-287-5333; dnr2.maryland.gov

OPERATED BY: Maryland Department of Natural Resources

OPEN: Year-round in Chester and North East Loops; late March–Sept. in Elk Loop; mid-March–late October in Elk and Miles Loops; mid April–early September in Bohemia, Wye, and Susquehanna Loops; mid-March to early October in Choptank Loop.

SITES: 258

EACH SITE: Fire ring, picnic table, tent pad

ASSIGNMENT: Reservable and walk-in

REGISTRATION: 888-432-camp, reservations.dnr.state.md.us, or walk-in at the ranger station on Campground Access Road

FACILITIES: Boat launch, cabins, camp store, dump station, playground, shelters, swimming beach, visitor center

PARKING: 2 vehicles/site

FEE: $21.49 plus service charge/night, $27.49 plus service charge/night electric, $36.49 plus service charge/night water and sewer; day-use fee $3–$5; boat launch $10/vehicle; out-of-state residents add $2

Elk Neck State Park, Best Tent Camping in Maryland, Evan Balkins, Deep Creek Lake State Park, swimming and camping in Maryland

Photo from Chesapeakeliving.com

Assateague Island National Seashore: Backcountry Sites

The backcountry campsites at Assateague Island National Seashore are not for the faint of heart; they are reached only after a decent walk or paddle and require that you haul in all your gear, even water. Those who do undertake the trip are rewarded with an unparalleled experience—a stunning (and often empty) beach where, on a clear night, accompanied by the soft lap of Atlantic waves, one can gaze into a sky full of stars unimpeded by artificial light.

ADDRESS: Assateague Island National Seashore, 7206 National Seashore Lane Berlin, MD 21811

CONTACT: 410-641-3030; nps.gov/asis

OPERATED BY: National Park Service

OPEN: Year-round, but sites occasionally may be closed due to extreme weather. In spring and summer, one or both backcountry oceanside sites may be closed due to bird nesting. Bayside sites are open all year except briefly during hunting season in autumn (call 410-641-3030 for hunting dates). The NPS does not recommend camping on the bayside in summer because of high concentrations of biting insects.

SITES: 6, each holding 10–25 people

EACH SITE: Picnic tables, fire rings

ASSIGNMENT: First come, first served

REGISTRATION: At North Beach Ranger Station

FACILITIES: Chemical toilets

PARKING: All vehicles must be left at the North Beach Ranger Station for hikers and the Old Ferry Landing Parking Area or Bayside Picnic Area for paddlers.

FEE: $6/person backcountry permit plus $15 park entrance fee/vehicle (good for 7 days); obtain permits at the Assateague Island

Assateague Island National Seashore: Backcountry Sites, Elk Neck State Park, Best Tent Camping in Maryland, Evan Balkins, Deep Creek Lake State Park, swimming and camping in Maryland

Photo from NPS.gov

Tanya Twerdowsky
tanya@adventurewithkeen.com
3 Comments
  • my friend and I love to camp while swimming this could be a great choice.

    January 18, 2018 at 1:58 am
  • Very informative post. This place is such a great site to set up a camp with our friends. Thank you for your post

    March 14, 2018 at 10:13 pm
  • Thank you for posting this perfect place to set up a camp and to hike the wilderness with our adventurous buddies.

    March 15, 2018 at 11:58 pm

Post a Comment