Top Places For

Watching Bald Eagles in the Wild

The bald eagle is the emblem of the United States. These majestic raptors represent strength and resilience, and here in the Chesapeake region there are dozens of places where you can see them in the wild.

It hasn’t always been this way. In the mid-20th century, bald eagles nearly disappeared because of habitat loss, illegal hunting, and the pesticide DDT. By 1978, bald eagles were listed as endangered throughout the Chesapeake region. But today, eagles have returned in record numbers thanks to conservation efforts across the country.

Head to places like Chippokes Plantation, Pocomoke River State Park, and the Patuxent Research Refuge to spot bald eagles soaring across the sky. It’s easy to identify these big birds: Look for their pure white head and tail feathers, an unmistakable sign that you’ve spotted an eagle. And keep an eye out for their giant nests near the tops of tall trees by the water.

There’s no better way to celebrate eagles than by visiting one of the top places for watching bald eagles in the wild. Just don’t forget to bring a pair of binoculars!

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

Main building at Caledon State Park

Caledon State Park

A designated National Natural Landmark, Caledon State Park provides visitors a unique opportunity to view bald eagles in their natural habitat.

King George, VA

Mt. Aventine Mansion at Chapman State Park

Chapman State Park

Chapman State Park is a journey through time, to Southern Maryland's pastoral heritage, finding mature forests, rare plants, and bald eagles frequenting the skies above.

Indian Head, MD

Chickahominy Riverfront Park

Chickahominy Riverfront Park

This 140 acre park sits on the Chickahominy River near its confluence with the James River. The park provides a range of opportunities for recreation in a riverfront surrounding, including overnight camping, boating and fishing.

Williamsburg, VA

Chippokes Plantation State Park

Chippokes Plantation State Park

Chippokes Plantation State Park is one of the oldest working farms in the United States. Chippokes is a living historical exhibit located in a rural agricultural area along the James River, directly opposite Jamestown Island and has a wide variety of traditional park offerings.

Surry, VA

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

Mason Neck Marsh - Bill Wallen/USFWS

Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge

The 2,276-acre Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge was specifically created to protect essential bald eagle nesting, feeding, and roosting habitats along the Potomac River.

Lorton, VA

Hikers at Elk Neck State Park

Elk Neck State Park

Elk Neck State Park boasts 2,188 acres of sandy beaches, marshlands, and heavily wooded bluffs within the peninsula formed by the North East River, Elk River, and the Chesapeake Bay.

North East, MD

Jamestown Island statue

Historic Jamestowne

Site of the first permanent English settlement in North America (1607) along the James River, near the Bay. Explore the remains of the "Old Towne", as well as the "New Towne" where colonists built more substantial homes after 1620.

Jamestown, VA

Fishing Boat on the James River Water Trail - Lower

James River Water Trail - Lower

Explore the southern-most major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay and the location of diverse historic and natural sites.

Richmond to Hampton Roads, VA

Kayakers on the Upper James River Blueway

James River Water Trail - Upper

The Upper James River Water Trail meanders through beautiful Botetourt County. You'll experience the unspoiled beauty of the river as you paddle through scenic valleys and past rolling farmland while keeping a watchful eye out for wildlife.

Botetourt, VA

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

Kingman and Heritage Islands Park

Kingman and Heritage Islands Park

Kingman and Heritage Islands are natural parklands found on the Anacostia River in Northeast Washington, DC. There are over 50 acres of natural area to be explored on these two island habitats by water and land.

Washington, DC

Marshy Point Park

Marshy Point Park

The shores of Dundee and Saltpeter Creeks, over three thousand acres, are the largest area of natural wetlands and forest available for public study and enjoyment in the Baltimore area.

Baltimore, MD

Mason Neck State Park

Mason Neck State Park

Overlooking the Potomac River, the park is a haven for migrating bird species in spring and fall. It has hiking trails, 3 miles of paved multi-use trails, a large picnic area, a playground, a car-top canoe launch and a visitor center.

Lorton, VA

Mount Harmon Plantation

Mount Harmon Plantation

Mount Harmon Plantation is the northern most colonial plantation open to the public in the region, and is a historic and scenic treasure.

Earleville, MD

Patuxent Research Refuge

Patuxent Research Refuge

The Patuxent Research Refuge is the nation's only National Wildlife Refuge established to support wildlife research. Tour portions of 12,000 acres along the upper Patuxent River, and a visitor center on regional and national wildlife.

Laurel, 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

Children at Pickering Creek Audubon Center

Pickering Creek Audubon Center

With over 400 acres of forests, fields and shoreline on the Eastern Shore, Pickering Creek Audubon Center provides a natural environment for learning about the Chesapeake Bay.

Easton, MD

Pocomoke River State Forest

Pocomoke River State Forest

Pocomoke River State Forest and Park provides 17,676 acres for exploring stands of loblolly pine, cypress swamps, and the beauty of the Pocomoke River, a major Eastern Shore tributary.

, 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

Kayakers at Powhatan Creek Blueway

Powhatan Creek Blueway

Powhatan Creek is a 23 mile tributary of the James River - and a great place to canoe, fish and observe birds and other wildlife. The trail is a straight paddle downstream to Jamestown Island.

Willamsburg, VA

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

Robinson Neck Preserve (Image courtesy: Dave Harp)

Robinson Neck Preserve

This Eastern Shore preserve is a delight for birders. where one finds undisturbed waterfowl habitat and a sanctuary for bald eagles.

Church Creek, MD

Sassafras River Water Trail

Sassafras River Water Trail

Over 20 miles long, the Sassafras River traces the shores of Maryland's Cecil and Kent counties before reaching its confluence with the Chesapeake Bay between Howell Point and Grove Point.

Sassafras , MD

Hiawatha River Boat on the Susquehanna River

Susquehanna State Park (PA)

This 20-acre riverfront recreational area is in the city of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The park offers boating, fishing, picnicking and cruises on a paddlewheeler.

Williamsport, PA

Susquehanna River from Susquehannock State Park

Susquehannock State Park

The 224-acre Susquehannock State Park is on a wooded plateau overlooking the Susquehanna River in southern Lancaster County. Besides the awesome view, the park offers a variety of recreational opportunities for year-round fun.

Drumore, PA

US Arboretum / Chesapeake Bay Program

U.S. National Arboretum

The US National Arboretum functions as a major center of botanical research. It conducts wide-ranging basic and developmental research on trees, shrubs, turf, and floral plants. It has a library with 10,000 volumes and approximately 90 publications concentrating in botanical literature.

Washington, DC

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

January 17, 2018

Main image: A bald eagle soaring high above the Chesapeake region. (Image courtesy: Middleton Evans / National Park Service)
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