Patapsco Valley is easily the largest park (save the narrow Rock Creek National Park) in the densely populated section of the country between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. As such, it is quite popular with day-trippers and campers alike seeking to escape the suburban sprawl for a while, and to explore its natural and historic sights.
Flora and fauna
The park is just west of the Baltimore Beltway, and the principal road in the area is US-40, the Baltimore National Pike, which cuts right through the park. The main visitor center is at 8020 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City.
Fees and permits
Day use during the main season is $2 for Maryland residents; $3 for out-of-staters.
- Swinging Bridge (Orange Grove Area). A 300-foot suspension walkway over the Patapsco River.
- Thomas Viaduct (Avalon Area). The world's longest multiple-arched stone railroad bridge. Of course, it's not too hard to set a record when you set your sights on such a narrow category, but the bridge is in any rate quite pretty, and worth a visit.
- Tire Playground. A giant tire playground, which would bore only the most Nintendo DS-addicted kid.
Call +1-888-432-2267 for reservations, which are often necessary in nice weather, given the lack of camping opportunities in this densely populated section of the state.
Tent and cabin camping are possible in designated campsites; the former costs $10/night and the latter $20. Separate from these campsites are sites for RV camping, with full hookups for $25.
The park is just north of Ellicott City—worth a visit for its old Main Street, with its historic attractions and fine dining.