Tourism: Catoctin Mountain Park

Photo courtesy of
‘Catoctin Mountain Park-5’
courtesy of ‘TrailVoice’

Nestled an approximate 90 minute, northwesterly drive from DC,  Catoctin Mountain Park located just outside of Thurmont, MD, is a great spot for a day trip or the perfect location for a weekend getaway from the district’s hubbub.

I’ve long had Catoctin on my radar since moving the DC, in fact visiting the national park is one of my New Year’s resolutions. And while I wouldn’t consider now the perfect time to visit the park, I’m of the spring/summertime hiking ilk, the park is definitely still opened to hikers, drivers and visitors, although you should check the park’s website prior heading out for closure updates, and is well worth the effort.

The park’s grounds offer extensive natural resources and a variety of recreational opportunities (rock climbing, hiking, wildlife watching, etc.,) while its cultural resources (Native American artifacts,  relics of the coal and iron industry, etc.) provide fantastic learning experiences of our nation’s history.

If you choose to visit Catoctin in the spring, there are a variety of overnight accomodation options. Within the park boundaries, you’ll find a selection of campgrounds and there’s even the year round option of spending the night in Adirondack Shelters. Be sure to bring a subzero sleeping bag and check if you can/should make reservations ahead of time.

Additionally, three historic lodges are available for larger groups.  Camp Greentop, built in 1937, was a project of the Works Progress Administration created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and helped give local people a chance to rebuild their lives after the Great Depression. The Misty Mount lodge, also built in 1937, served as one of the earliest camps for people with disabilities and The League for People with Disabilities continues to use the Catoctin facilities to this day. Catoctin’s association with the WPA and Civil Conservation Corp, and the still in tact efforts of this labor is a reminder of the potnetial of youth programs like the Boy and Girl Scouts.

Photo courtesy of
‘Catoctin Mountain Park-2’
courtesy of ‘TrailVoice’

Interesting fact: Catoctin Mountain is home to 4 different types of squirrels: the large Fox Squirrel, the most common Grey Squirrel, the vocal Red Squirrel and the Flying Squirrel.

Of additional importance is that Camp David, named after Roosevelt’s President Eisenhower’s grandson, is located within the park’s boundaries and the park service works tirelessly to keep the area protected and secluded from the public park.

All in all, Catoctin is a gem of trip and we are truly lucky to have it located within such close range.

Rebecca Johnson

A born and bred New Yorker, Rebecca made the big trip “down south” to DC in 2006 and hasn’t looked back. She spends her days strategizing/planning/ideating how interactive products can help her clients and change the world. In her free time, she explores DC’s ever expanding bar, restaurant and small business scene, plays a crap ton of soccer, attends concerts that contribute to her sleep deprivation and embarks on local adventures. Read why Rebecca loves DC or follow her on twitter.

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10 thoughts on “Tourism: Catoctin Mountain Park

  1. Not to be a negative nelly, but is this an article about a place you’ve never been? Wouldn’t it be a stronger article if you had actually visited Catoctin?

  2. What’s wrong with sharing information, regardless if you’ve been there or are planning to go? Bottom line she’s telling us about something we may have never heard of before.

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Tourism: Catoctin Mountain Park » We Love DC --

  4. From that link:

    “President Eisenhower renamed the retreat, after he took office in 1953, “Camp David,” after his grandson.”

  5. Went there in mid-October 2008 for the first time, thinking the great escape.

    Loved it once we got to the park, but be forewarned. Thurmont was having their annual Colorfest, and Arts and Craft Show.

    Traffic was nuts, but the people observing at the diner was fun, noticing the huge contrast to our more progressive folk here.

  6. The Cozy Restaurant in Thurmont has a Camp David museum inside as well as an all-you-can-eat buffet.