Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area

Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area is a collection of several parcels of land along the Potomac River in southwestern Charles County that encompass 1,365 acres of protected land. These parcels offer up many recreational activities and opportunities. Hunting, bird watching, hiking, and paddling are just some of the many activities available. The 'Purse' unit of Nanjemoy WMA is well known for its fossil-hunting due to its many beaches. The area is also home to a diverse collection of wildlife, ranging from deer and foxes in the forests, to osprey and eagles over the water.

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Image Credit: F Delventhal / Flickr Commons


Nanjemoy is available for public use year round, sunrise to sunset.

Certain activities are permitted outside of the regular park hours (e.g. fishing, boat launch, hunting where permitted). Please check with the park before your visit if you plan to engage in an activity which requires you to be in the park before or after the posted hours.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)


Hunting - Hunters are limited to a total of 10 in the area at any given time. The sign-in box for hunters is located next to the parking area. There are several unmarked, hunter created trails on the same side of the road as the parking area. Please be aware, all of Purse State Park is open for hunting. Waterfowl hunting is at its best during the final part of the season. Waterfowl Zones are located on the beach, and may be used by permit only. Please contact Myrtle Grove WMA for more information. Hunters may enter / remain on park property outside of the regular posted hours provided that they are engaged in legitimate, authorized hunting activity.

Fossil Hunting - Fossil hunting has become a popular activity at Purse. Fossilized sharks teeth, bones and shell fragments are often found at low tide in the rocks and sand along the waters edge.

Birding - There are a couple of unmarked, hunter created trails on the same side of the road as the parking area that bird watchers enjoy walking. These trails meander through a forested area and along the edge of a small wetland.

Fishing - Fishermen will need a Bay Sport (Tidal) Fishing License to fish this area. Wades Bay is a great fishing location for carp, large mouth bass, white perch and many other fish species. During the summer months Wades Bay tends to fill with submerged aquatic vegetation often making fishing a challenge.


Nanjemoy is a part of the Aquia Formation which formed in the Paleocene Era about 60 million years ago when a gigantic meteor hit the earth.

This area was covered with warm shallow water which made it a suitable habitat for sand tiger sharks, mackerel sharks, Turritella (snails) and Eagle Rays more specifically Cownose Rays which all lived during this time period.


Last updated: October 01, 2019