Many people are surprised to find a national park nestled in an area so close to the hustle and bustle of the city. The Greenbelt National Park in Maryland is only 12 miles from the Nation's Capital. The park offers a variety of outdoor recereational options including camping and hiking. This park is also a great idea for those traveling to Washington, D.C. who want budget accomodations. The camp is safe, peaceful, and open year round.
The park features 174 camp sits and they have bathroom and hot shower facilities. There are hosts that will welcome you to the campgrounds and park rangers are on duty will help ensure your safety. Fees for camping are $16 per night. Reservations are not available during the in-season, Memorial Day through Labor Day, and campgrounds will be assigned on the first come, first serve basis.
The area climate is fairly temperate, although there are occasional snow storms and cold spells during the winter, and summers can be very hot and humid. If you are planning a stay during summer months, bring insect repellent and check yourself and your family carefully to ticks and other insects. The average temperature during the summer is 86 degrees and winter's average temperature is 41 degree.
Hiking opportunities are numerous and visitors can choose from one of four trails. The Azalea Trail is 1.1 miles and marked in white. The beginning of the trail is at Sweetgum Picnic area, so hikers can take time to fuel up before heading out. Both the Blueberry Trail and the Dogwood Trail are comparable in distance to the Azalea Trail. Blueberry is marked in blue and Dogwood is marked in red. For hikers looking for a more challenging course, The Perimeter Trail is 5.3 miles long. This trail is marked in yellow.
The park offers visitors three picnic areas to set up and dine. The Sweetgum area, near The Azalea Trail, is used on the first come first serve basis. The area can hold up to 25 people. The Holly and Laurel picnic areas can handle larger groups. Reservations are required and there may be a fee depending on the size of your group. Park hours are dawn to dusk, but reserved picnicking areas may have different hours, so check with the office when scheduling your reservation. Park Headquarters is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm, except for federal holidays.
Each campsite is equipped with a fire ring. There are three tents and two vehicles allowed per site. Six people are permitted per site. Campers are not permitted to affix anythign to trees, shrubs, and plants. You are also not allowed to drive nails, axes, or knives into any vegetation. The park makes every effort to keep the camp-sites clean and safe. Those searching for a place to stay in the D.C. area who are willing to try camping in place of an expensive luxury hotel should consider staying at the Greenbelt National Park, just a few minutes from all of the excitement of the nation's capital.