Top Places For

Photographing Nature and Wildlife

What’s one of the best ways you can capture your memories of days spent exploring the Chesapeake Bay? Take a picture!

The Chesapeake Bay is a photographer’s paradise, with thousands of beautiful views waiting for you to discover at places like Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary, Shenandoah River State Park, and the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. Photography is an opportunity to stop, slow down, and appreciate the Chesapeake’s nature and wildlife.

At the parks and wildlife refuges listed below, you’ll find birds, deer, turtles, and other animals set against stunning natural backdrops. Because these scenes are constantly shifting with the seasons, they’re fascinating to photograph again and again.

No matter whether you’re a professional or new to photography, you’ll capture the Chesapeake’s beauty when you visit one of these top places for photographing nature and wildlife.

Bel Air State Park water view

Belle Isle State Park

With seven miles of waterfront on the north shore of the Rappahannock, Belle Isle State Park features diverse tidal and nontidal wetlands, lowland marshes, tidal coves and upland forests.

Lancaster, VA

Fog Covered Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

An Eastern Shore wildlife refuge attracting vast numbers of waterfowl to quintessential Bay tidal wetlands. While primarily a tidal marsh, the refuge also includes a mature pine forest.

Cambridge, MD

Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center

Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center

Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center is a 500 acre preserve located 15 minutes from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on Maryland's Eastern Shore. With a variety of habitats, the Center is an excellent place to see the Chesapeake's wintering assortment of waterfowl.

Grasonville, MD

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is a 2,285-acre island refuge at the confluence of the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It's an important migration stopover and wintering area for thousands of waterfowl.

Rock Hall, MD

Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR

Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge

The Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, located at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, contains 1415 acres of maritime forest, myrtle and bayberry thickets, grasslands, and fresh and brackish ponds.

Cape Charles, VA

Great Falls Park

Great Falls Park

Just 15 miles from the Nation's capital, Great Falls is considered the most spectacular natural landmark in the DC metropolitan area. The park providing a series of trails and overlooks from which to view the falls and the gorge.

Great Falls Park, VA

Huntley Meadows Park - image courtesy Walter Sanford

Huntley Meadows Park

Huntley Meadows Park is a rich, natural island in the suburban sea of Northern Virginia. Its 1,557 acres harbor majestic forests, wildflower-speckled meadows and vast wetlands bursting with life.

Alexandria, VA

Kayaker at Janes Island State Park

Janes Island State Park

Janes Island State Park encompasses 2,900 acres of Chesapeake Bay marsh, beach, and highland. The park is dissected by many small waterways, with 30 miles of trails marked for canoes and kayaks.

Crisfield, MD

King's Landing Park

King’s Landing Park

King's Landing Park - 260 acres of hardwood bottom forest, river shoreline and wetlands - sits along the Patuxent River and Cocktown Creek. A 200-foot fishing pier and canoe and kayak launch provide access to the beauty of the Patuxent.

Huntingtown, MD

Sunrise at Kiptopeke State Park

Kiptopeke State Park

Kiptopeke State Park's location near the tip of the Chesapeake's Eastern Shore makes the park a prime location for bird-watching. Migrating birds congregate at this point on the Delmarva before moving on to breeding or wintering grounds.

Cape Charles, VA

Marsh at Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary

Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary

Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses almost 2,000 acrees adjacent to the Patuxent River. The habitat is managed primarily for geese, but many other wildlife can be seen here.

Upper Marlboro, MD

Patuxent River Park Jug Bay Natural Area

Patuxent River Park Jug Bay Natural Area

Jug Bay Natural Area offers many activities including walking through wetlands, guided boat tours, hiking and horseback riding over eight miles of trails, boating, fishing, camping, hunting, and visiting a museum.

Upper Marlboro, MD

Pocomoke River State Park

Pocomoke River State Park

Located within the 15,000 wooded acres of Pocomoke State Forest in the Southwestern section of Worcester County, Pocomoke River State Park provides a base for a vast array of outdoor and tourist activities.

Pocomoke City, MD

Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Established in 1996 to conserve fish and wildlife habitat along this vital tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, the refuge focuses primarily on protecting and managing tidal and inland wetlands, and adjacent uplands, to benefit wildlife.

, VA

Shenandoah River State Park

Shenandoah River State Park

Located just down stream from Bentonville, the park boasts over five miles of frontage on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. The park consists of pastures, forests and vistas of the mountains and the river.

Bentonville, VA

A sunset at Westmoreland State Park

Westmoreland State Park

The park extends about one and a half miles along the Potomac River and offers hiking, camping, cabins, fishing, boating and swimming. Visitors can enjoy the park's vacation cabins as well as spectacular views of the Potomac.

Montross, VA