Help stop the spread of COVID-19 and follow all current directives from your governor and local health officials about wearing face masks and physical distancing.

Trips and Tips

Featured Tips This Week


A note about COVID-19 and visiting parks: Help stop the spread of COVID-19 and follow all current directives from your governor and local health officials about wearing face masks and physical distancing.

A Note About Our Virtual Trips & Tips

We know there is a lot of uncertainty and upheaval in our world right now. We also know how much the parks in the Chesapeake Bay watershed mean to you and how they can be a place of discovery and comfort and hope for us all. We hope that our updated virtual Trips & Tips newsletters will help bring the parks to you while we all do our part to keep ourselves, our families, and communities healthy and well. Share your favorite virtual visits and follow us at @ChesapeakeNPS, #FindYourChesapeake. Sign up for Trips & Tips.

The Snowy Owl: A Visual History

Snowy owls capture our imagination and fascinates us with their beauty, yet they remain one of the least understood owls in the world. The Howard County Conservancy welcomes award-winning author and photographer Paul Bannick for a presentation on one of his new books, Snowy Owl: A Visual Natural History, presentation virtually on Zoom. This program combines breathtaking images, science, first-hand accounts, video and sound to inspire conservation and education and to spread awareness around the threats to these owls and what we can do to protect them. During this Zoom event, you will be able to ask Paul your most pressing owl questions! $10 per login. Jan. 21, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. More information and registration.

Steam Returns to Western Maryland

Are you a rail fan, rail buff, railway enthusiast, trainspotter or ferroequinologist? Then you will be happy to hear that the Western Maryland Scenic Railway is nearing completion of its steam locomotive no. 1309 restoration. On New Year’s Eve, steam locomotive no. 1309 took its first steps under steam in 64 years and will become the world’s largest steam locomotive. It is anticipated to be a major tourism driver for Western Maryland. The beautifully-produced video, A New Year of Steam, takes you behind the scenes of this monumental effort to bring steam back to the Western Maryland. Watch the video.

Torpedo Junction: The U-Boat War on the American Coast

After Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy was sent to slow the Japanese in the Pacific, leaving the Atlantic Coast undefended from the German submarine onslaught. From Maine to Miami in the Atlantic, from Miami to New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico, a few Coast Guard Cutters fought to slow the sinking of hundreds of Allied ships. The Mariners’ Museum Speakers Bureau presents an online lecture on this perilous period in American history. Viewers are welcome to send comments or questions, which will be answered following the presentation. Jan. 20, 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm. Registration and more information.

How Do Birds Stay Warm in Winter?

Audubon Afternoon, presented by Northern Virginia Audubon Society, will discuss how birds stay warm in cold weather and extreme elevations. Presenter, Dr. Sahas Barve, is an avian evolutionary ecologist and currently a Peter Buck Fellow at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History where he studies how birds stay warm in the high Himalayas. This virtual event is free, but registration is required. Jan. 17, 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm. More information and registration.

Animal Cuteness for Beginners

If you are new to animal watching as a way to improve your mood and lower stress levels, you may want to start with an animal that is foolproof – the otter. And if you live in the Chesapeake watershed that means American river otters. The Calvert Marine Museum has both indoor and outdoor webcams,  with recommended watching times, but if you need instant gratification we have a video of an unbeatable combination: otters and ice. From dumping the ice buckets to joyfully munching on cubes, Tuck and Mac of the Delmarva Discovery Museum are cuteness superstars. Watch the video.

Dreaming Green?

The Audubon Naturalist Society has taken their popular Garden Outreach Program clinics indoors and online for the winter months, covering growing and caring for window ledge herbs, restarting plants from grocery store vegetables, and how to prepare for outdoor gardening in the spring. Participants will pick up a growing kit of pots, soil and seeds at the Audubon Naturalist Shop. Adults and children are welcome! You can sign up for the January (first class January 14), February, or March series, each with three weekly Thursday 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm clinics. Registration.

Great Falls Walks and Birding

Learn about the Great Falls of the Potomac and the impact it had on our history on this 45-minute Falls Walk to Overlook 3 at the Great Falls Park. Find out how geology created the falls, the importance of the canal that bypassed the falls to our nation’s history, and much more. The walk covers level ground, and is about ½ mile in length round trip. This free 30-minute walk is offered every Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 pm. Meet at the Great Fall Visitor Center courtyard. On Sundays at 8:00 am join knowledgeable volunteers for a 2.5 hour Great Falls Bird Walk. Bird lovers of all skill levels welcome. Beginners will learn tips and tricks for spotting and identifying birds, while more experienced birders will enjoy observing species in a diverse environment.

January in the Vegetable Garden

Now is the time to plant the mental seeds for next spring’s vegetable garden. The Master Gardener of Northern Virginia, who support the work of Virginia Cooperative Extension's public education outreach has some excellent ideas for jump starting your spring gardening plans. They have some January to-do list suggestions, like inventorying your remaining stored and saved seeds from last year, start ordering seeds and starter plants, adding organic matter to vegetable beds, and many more important details to get started on. In addition there are suggestions for vegetable garden design, soil testing, links for your gardening questions and pests, online classes and more. Check out the January edition of Between the Rows.

Soup & Science: 30 Years of Birding Stories

Jug Bay Wetland Sanctuary is launching this year’s Soup & Science virtual learning series with an hour-long Zoom presentation January 17th at 2:00 pm. Liana Vitali, Stewardship and Citizen Science Coordinator for Jug Bay, will share stories from 30 years of birding at Jug Bay. Free. More information and registration.

Getting to Know Horses

The Greenwell Foundation has created a unique approach to horsemanship – learn about horses first in a series of lessons in which the participants are “unmounted.” Their unmounted program is designed to offer you and your family a fun, relaxing experience learning with horses. Each lesson will offer an opportunity to observe horse behavior, how to approach, halter and lead a horse, the fundamentals of horse care including grooming, anatomy, colors, and breeds, and concluding with a challenging obstacle course to lead your horse through.  There is a minimum of two participants, maximum of ten participants and will include one to four horses depending on number of participants. Minimum age is 5 years old. You can try a one hour session or opt for one session per week for four weeks. More information.

Breakfast in the Barnyard

In a continuing effort to share the benefits of animal-watching, this Accokeek Foundation video of the daily breakfast routine at Piscataway Park should bring smiles to viewers of all ages. From filling the trough for rambunctious Ossabaw piglets, to providing fresh water for the ducks to bathe in, tossing fresh bails of hay to the herd of heritage cattle, and collecting eggs, the morning chores couldn’t be more fun. Watch Breakfast in the Barnyard.

Online Lecture Series: Chesapeake Bay Waterfowl

ake a deep dive into the history of waterfowl from the time of Captain John Smith to the present, learn how satellite telemetry is being used to study ducks, and how certain species like Canada geese, snow geese and mute swans are destroying habitat for other waterfowl species in this online Zoom lecture presented by the Annapolis Maritime Museum. The presenter will be Dr. Matthew C. Perry, Scientist Emeritus, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. January 14, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. More information and registration.

The Silent Sentinels and A New Suffragist Memorial

Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association is building a national memorial to American suffragists – with a special focus on those imprisoned at Occoquan, VA, who endured harsh conditions and abuse to win voting rights for American women. NOVA Parks is proud to be part of the collaboration to bring a section of the historic White House fence that dates to the late 1800s for inclusion in the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, which will be located at Occoquan Regional Park. They have produced an amazing video that tells the history of the Silent Sentinels and their fight for women’s right to vote and explains the significance of the fence. Watch the NOVA Parks Suffragist Memorial video.

Winter Fun at NOVA Parks

NOVA (Northern Virginia) Parks has put together a great video of all the things you can do in their parks in winter, so if you are suffering from cabin fever, be sure to check it out. First of all, speaking of cabins, Algonkian, Pohick Bay, and Bull Run regional parks have heated cabins with kitchenettes. The deluxe cabins at Algonkian have four bedrooms and decks overlooking the river. Algonkian, Pohick Bay and Brambleton regional parks also are great places to try some winter golfing (a sport where social distancing is easy). From now through early January Bull Run, Cameron Run, and Meadowbrook Botanical Gardens have beautiful light festivals, with tickets available for purchase online. Watch the video. Browse all the events at NOVA Parks and purchase light festival tickets. 

Where Land and Water Meet: A Virtual Exhibition

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is thrilled to have an opportunity to bring forty years of iconic images of the Chesapeake Bay into your homes through its virtual exhibition of the photographs and videos of David Harp. The virtual exhibition, which is presented to the public admission-free, features more than 20 images selected from Where Land and Water Meet, with more to be added to the site over time. From dozens of black and white shots of legendary skipjacks including Rebecca T. Ruark and intimate portraits of captains and crew, to color images capturing marsh guts, waterfowl, and watermen at work, Harp’s body of work captures the essence of the Chesapeake Bay like none other at 

January 11, 2021

Main image: Snowy Owl, John Whaley photo courtesy the Maryland Department of Natural Resources