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.
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.