Situated on the most southern point of Maryland's western shore, Point Lookout State Park is one of Maryland's most visited parks. Once a prison camp for 52,000 confederate soldiers during the Civil War, Point Lookout State Park now serves as a peaceful place to enjoy recreational outings.
Recreational opportunities abound on this picturesque peninsula formed by the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River. Swimming, fishing, boating and camping are just a few of the activities to be enjoyed in this beautiful bay setting. In 2018, Maryland State Parks made improvements to 15 existing campsites at Hoffman Point and the Green Loop at Point Lookout, adding amenities and upgrading infrastructure to improve the visitor experience. These campsites are close to the shoreline and are also near existing piers with floating dock facilities that are ideal for canoe and kayak access.
This park's peaceful surroundings belive its history as the location of a prison camp which imprisoned as many as 52,264 Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. A museum on site recounts this vivid history.
The park is open from 6 AM to Sunset. Lifeguards are on duty at the swimming beach from 8:00 AM to 6:30 PM, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
(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.)
Weekends and Holidays
Weekdays (not including holidays that fall on a weekday)
Boat Launch Charges:
Check out the Maryland Deptartment of Natural Resources webpage
Fishing: The park features three fishing areas available 24 hours, including the 710 foot Fishing Pier (24 hour operation April 1 to December 30), the Causeway and the Point (year-round). A valid Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport fishing license and appropriate stamps are required. Active fishing is allowed 24 hours a day.
Hiking: Periwinkle Point Trail, a self-guided nature trail located at the back entrance of the Civil War Museum/Marshland Nature Center.
Hunting: There are 200 acres set aside for deer hunting. A valid hunting license and appropriate stamps are required (all seasons except early muzzleloader). Two waterfowl blind sites are available. Hunters may enter / remain on park property outside of the regular posted hours provided that they are engaged in legitimate, authorized hunting activity.
Boating: A boat launch facility and fish-cleaning station are available for boaters. Canoe rentals and supplies are also available at the camp store. Boat launch service charge is $10 for Maryland residents and $12 for non-Maryland residents per launch, valid 24 hours a day year round. Reduced services beginning December between the hours of 4 PM and 10 AM Launching is permitted 24 hours a day, however, launchers should be aware that there is no lighting in the area.
The State Park offers a variety of paddling experiences that range from an hour or two to all-day excursions with overnight camping options. In addition to the water trail routes, the water trail map/guide also provides information on special features and points of interest on the Point Lookout peninsula. Originally printed in 2003 and reprinted in 2007, the guide features over 7 miles of water trails along three different routes in and around the Park. The map is printed on waterproof, tear-proof paper and is available at the Point Lookout State Park visitor center.
Beach Picnic Area: Open daily (6 AM to Sunset) starting Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. Open year round with pedestrian access only during the winter season from sunrise to sunset. Limited parking is available near the entrance of the beach picnic area. The beach area has grills, picnic tables and a playground. Limited numbers of grills and picnic tables are available on a first come first served basis. Visitors are encouraged to swim in the designated swimming area when lifeguards are on duty. Guards are on duty throughout the day on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Facilities include showers and restrooms.
Pavilion/Shelter: This facility can accommodate 100 people maximum; reservations can be made up to one year in advance. Price does NOT include the per person service charge May through September on weekends and holidays, and the per vehicle service charge weekdays year-round. The pavilion contains a large open grill and picnic tables. Water and electric are available. The pavilion is located in the Beach Picnic Area with the swimming area and a small playing field nearby.
Camp Store: The camp store is open May to September. The camp store offers snacks, ice cream, drinks, bait, ice, gasoline for boats, souvenirs and boating, picnicking and camping supplies. Canoe rentals are available on a first come first service basis. Please call the park for hours of operation.
Civil War Museum/Marshland Nature Center: The nature center and museum are located within the Campground. Open to the general public, day visitors as well as campers. Museum and Nature Center are open seasonally, closed during the winter.
Fort Lincoln: Open year round sunrise to sunset (self-guided). Re-enactments and special events are held at Fort Lincoln throughout the year. Contact the park at 301-872-5688 for more details.
Lighthouse: Open for tours the first Saturday of each month from April-November (excluding July and September, open the second Saturday of the month) from 10 AM to 2 PM
A limited number of accessible campsites are available at Point Lookout. The 71 foot fishing pier at Point Lookout is accessible. Accessible picnic sites are located at the beach area.
Pets are allowed in Malone Circle, Tulip Loop, Green's Point Loop and Hoffman's Loop in the campground, on paved portion of causeway, on beach north of the causeway to entrance of Tanner's Creek on Bay side, and beach south of causeway on the Bay side. Pets are allowed in boat launch area to board vessels and are allowed in all day-use areas after Labor Day to Memorial Day weekend.
Located where the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay, Point Lookout was a valuable spot for the Americans and the British during the War of 1812. American scouts used the point to watch British ship movements and record their size and armaments. They relayed this information via post rider to leaders in Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Annapolis. Beginning in the summer of 1813, the War Department in Washington received a daily status report from Point Lookout. However, the point was also a convenient landing site for the British. In July 1813, between 2,000 and 3,000 British troops landed here and looted and burned the surrounding countryside. Once under British control, Point Lookout became a popular place for enslaved people to seek refuge. The British offered them freedom.
In 1862, during the American Civil War, much of the land around Point Lookout was transformed into a bustling port and temporary city of civilians and military personnel and numerous buildings, including a large Union Army hospital, a United States Army garrison at Fort Lincoln, and a Union prisoner of war camp to hold Confederate States Army soldier captives.