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On the Potomac River's Northern Neck, this park offers many opportunities for family fun. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has an Olympic-sized swimming pool and an adjacent bathhouse, meeting area, snack bar, camp store and power-boat ramp. You'll also find a visitor center, campgrounds, camping cabins, cabins, a playground, a fishing pier, boat rentals and 6 miles of trails. Fossil collectors enjoy hunting for ancient shark teeth along the Potomac. Offshore breakwaters are great for fishing. Birding enthusiasts find the park an excellent site for spotting American bald eagles, ospreys, kingfishers, great blue herons, common terns, green herons and gulls, as well as wintering waterfowl. The Potomac River Retreat is an overnight center suitable for family reunions and other gatherings of up to 16. Its waterfront location provides docking space at a boathouse. Murphy Hall, atop Horse Head Cliffs, offers a superb view of the Potomac River. The hall accommodates up to 72 people for meetings and other gatherings. Amenities include audiovisual equipment, a warming kitchen for catered events and an executive board room.
Dawn to dusk.
(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.)
There is a daily parking fee: Residents: $5/day; $7 prime season weekends and holidays. Out-of-State: $7/day; $9 prime season weekends and holidays
Trails: Hiking and one bicycle trail; no bridle trails. Seven trails, including self-guided interpretive trails, cover six miles. The CCC Trail has five fitness stations. Hikers can observe the flora and wildlife present on the coastal plain. The park’s location beside the Potomac River allows visitors to see how the changing river level affects the land. The park has a beach trail that offers a stunning view of the Potomac River. There are no designated swimming areas along the park's shoreline.
Swimming: The pool is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. A bathhouse and concessions are located in the pool area.
Fishing, Boating: Fishing in the saltwater of the Potomac River is available year-round. A valid Maryland or Virginia saltwater fishing license is required when fishing from a boat. If fishing from the pier or shore, no fishing license is required. Power boats are permitted, and a boat ramp is available along with a boathouse that sells gas, ice, bait and other fishing supplies. Paddleboats and rowboats can be rented Memorial Day through Labor Day. The swimming pool is also open from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
The picnic area, overlooking the Potomac River, has tables, shelters, restroom facilities and fire grills. Visitor Center exhibits include marine, bird and other wildlife displays. A collection of sharks' teeth is also on display. Camping/Cabin Rates: Rental rates for cabins and camping vary by season, offering and park.
Pets are welcome but must be attended at all times and kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet.
In June and July 1608, Captain John Smith and his crew explored the Potomac River. Early in this leg of their Chesapeake voyage, probably at the Indian town of Onawmanient—on the south bank of the Potomac, near Westmoreland State Park—the English met a Wiccocomico Indian named Mosco. Unlike most Indians, Mosco had a fairly heavy beard, which indicated European ancestry. Smith wrote in his journal, “Here we encountered . . . Mosco, a lusty savage of Wighcocomoco upon the River of Patawomek. We supposed him some Frenchman’s son because he had a thick black bush beard and the savages seldom have any at all—of which he was not a little proud to see so many of his countrymen.” Mosco stayed with Smith and his crew for part of their Potomac exploration. He facilitated friendly meetings between them and Indian communities on their way back downriver.