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Best Tent Camping: Maryland: Your Car-Camping Guide to Scenic Beauty, the Sounds of Nature, and an Escape from Civilization

Best Tent Camping: Maryland: Your Car-Camping Guide to Scenic Beauty, the Sounds of Nature, and an Escape from Civilization

by Evan Balkan

Paperback(Second Edition)

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Perfect Camping for You in Maryland!

Called “America in Miniature” by National Geographic editor Gilbert Grosvenor, Maryland packs an extraordinary amount of natural diversity into a relatively small area. With the Atlantic Ocean in the east, Allegheny Mountains in the west, and the country’s largest estuary—the Chesapeake Bay—splitting the state down the middle, any outdoors enthusiast finds a happy home in Maryland.

Dividing the state into three distinct geographical regions—Western Maryland, Central Maryland, and Southern Maryland/Eastern Shore—Best Tent Camping: Maryland, by Evan Balkan, will guide campers to 50 of the best campgrounds the state has to offer. Within these 50 profiles are campgrounds with every imaginable facility, as well as primitive campsites far from population centers and everything in between. For camping in Maryland, this is an indispensable guide.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780897324151
Publisher: Menasha Ridge Press
Publication date: 05/31/2016
Series: Best Tent Camping
Edition description: Second Edition
Pages: 200
Sales rank: 579,643
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Evan Balkan coordinates the English Department and teaches creative writing at the Community College of Baltimore County. His fiction and nonfiction, mostly in the areas of travel and outdoor recreation, have been published throughout the United States as well as in Canada, England, and Australia. A graduate of Towson, George Mason, and Johns Hopkins Universities, he is also the author of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Baltimore; Vanished! Explorers Forever Lost; and Shipwrecked! Deadly Adventures and Disasters at Sea (Menasha Ridge Press), as well as Walking Baltimore (Wilderness Press) and Lope de Aguirre: Revolutionary of the Americas (University of New Mexico Press). He lives in Towson, Maryland.

Read an Excerpt

Big Run State Park

Beauty: 4 stars / Privacy: 3 stars / Quiet: 3 stars / Spaciousness: 4 stars / Security: 5 stars / Cleanliness: 5 stars

Big Run is just one of the many state parks and forests in Garrett County; what sets it apart from its neighbors is its proximity to the unspoiled Savage River Reservoir.

Big Run State Park, 10368 Savage River Road, Swanton, MD 21561
CONTACT: 301-895-5453;
OPERATED BY: Maryland Department of Natural Resources
OPEN: Year-round
EACH SITE: Picnic table, fire grill, lantern post
ASSIGNMENT: First come, first served
REGISTRATION: or 888-432-2267. Self-registration station is located in the lower camping area, along Savage River Rd.
FACILITIES: Picnic pavilion, restroom, water
PARKING: Maximum 2 vehicles/site
FEE: $10/night; $60/night group site (25 people maximum)
Allowed on a leash
QUIET HOURS: 11 p.m.-7 a.m.
VISITORS: Maximum 6 people/site
FIRES: In fire rings
ALCOHOL: Permitted only inside cabins and at shelters with valid permit, as applicable
STAY LIMIT: 2 weeks
OTHER: Checkout 3 p.m.

At 300 acres, Big Run State Park is relatively modest in size, but it sits within the Savage River State Forest, which, at 53,000 acres, is the largest of Maryland’s state forests and parks. Big Run is just one of the many state parks and forests in Garrett County; what sets it apart from its neighbors is its proximity to the unspoiled Savage River Reservoir, where anglers can fish for a seemingly endless supply of bass, catfish, crappie, perch, trout, and walleye. Fishing is permitted year-round with a nontidal fishing license.

Another feature that distinguishes Big Run from its larger park neighbor, New Germany, is that camping here is year-round. Because of the cold and the threat of heavy snow, winter camping is largely a private experience. The numerous hiking trails in the state forest provide for some great cross-country skiing.

If you’ve brought a boat, you’ll want to snag one of the sites in the 80s or sites 78, 79, or 90, which are closest to the boat launch for the reservoir. The closest two are 83 and 84. These are fairly big sites, but they are situated in an open grassy field without shade. In fact, all of sites 78–90 are in the open. If you wish for a wooded site, go with 60–75. If you are more interested in the surrounding forest and its hiking trails, go for the sites north of the boat launch, off Big Run Road (also sites 60–75). Sites 61 and 62 are closest to the lovely Monroe Run Trail. Be aware that sites 71 and 72 are closest to the Youth Group camping site, so the chance for noise is increased there.

Monroe Run Trail commences between sites 62 and 64, and these sites, along with 65 and 67, could be the most pleasurable spots to have. They sit in the forested sections of the park, away from the main camp roads. The trail follows Monroe Run into nearby New Germany State Park (see pages 71–73) and shouldn’t be missed; it’s a modest 6 miles, but it winds through pristine forests and over innumerable streams. It guarantees a workout, but it’s lovely.

In all, you really can’t go wrong in Big Run; it’s fairly small, so there’s really not a whole lot of action, company, or noise. And if you want an even more rustic camping experience, you can head straight north on Big Run Road or east on Savage River Road for loads of camping opportunities in the Savage River State Forest (see pages 85–92).


Take Exit 22 off I-68 and follow Chestnut Ridge Road south to New Germany Road. Pass New Germany State Park headquarters and take a left onto Big Run Road. Go 5 miles, and the park is at the intersection of Big Run Road and Savage River Road.

GPS COORDINATES: N39º32'42" W79º8'14"

Table of Contents

Maryland Overview Map

Overview-Map Key

Best Campgrounds




  • Big Run State Park
  • Brunswick Family Campground
  • Catoctin Mountain Park
  • C&O Canal: Drive-In Sites
  • C&O Canal: Hiker-Biker Campsites from Swain’s Lock (Mile 16.6) to Killiansburg Cave (Mile 75.2)
  • C&O Canal: Hiker-Biker Campsites from Horseshoe Bend (Mile 79) to Cacapon Junction (Mile 133)
  • C&O Canal: Hiker-Biker Campsites from Indigo Neck (Mile 139) to Evitts Creek (Mile 180)
  • Cunningham Falls State Park: Houck Area
  • Cunningham Falls State Park: Manor Area
  • Deep Creek Lake State Park
  • Fort Frederick State Park
  • Gambrill State Park: Rock Run Area
  • Garrett State Forest: Snaggy Mountain Area
  • Garrett State Forest: Piney Mountain Area and Backcountry Camping
  • Green Ridge State Forest
  • Greenbrier State Park
  • Maple Tree Camp
  • New Germany State Park
  • Potomac State Forest: Lostland Run Area and Backcountry Camping
  • Potomac State Forest: Laurel Run and Wallman Areas
  • Rocky Gap State Park
  • Savage River State Forest: Whitewater, Big Run, and Savage River Road Campsites
  • Savage River State Forest: Elk Lick, Poplar Lick, and Blue Lick Campsites
  • South Mountain State Park: Appalachian Trail Shelters
  • South Mountain State Park: Appalachian Trail Backpackers’ Campgrounds
  • Swallow Falls State Park
  • Youghiogheny River Lake: Mill Run Campground


  • Cedarville State Forest
  • Louise F. Cosca Regional Park
  • Elk Neck State Park
  • Greenbelt Park
  • Hart-Miller Island State Park
  • Little Bennett Regional Park
  • Patapsco Valley State Park: Hilton Area
  • Patapsco Valley State Park: Hollofield Area
  • Patuxent River Park
  • Patuxent Water Trail
  • Susquehanna State Park
  • Watkins Regional Park


  • Assateague Island National Seashore: Bayside Campground
  • Assateague Island National Seashore: Oceanside Campground
  • Assateague Island National Seashore: Backcountry Sites
  • Assateague State Park
  • Janes Island State Park
  • Martinak State Park
  • Pocomoke River State Park: Milburn Landing Area
  • Pocomoke River State Park: Shad Landing Area
  • Point Lookout State Park
  • Smallwood State Park
  • Tuckahoe State Park


Appendix A: Camping Equipment Checklist

Appendix B: Sources of Information


About the Author

Map Legend

Customer Reviews