It doesn’t matter if you are a lifelong resident of Maryland or are planning a trip to this beautiful state, there are so many natural wonders in Maryland to explore. We hope we can inspire you to come visit. Whether you are up for a
long road trip or a casual afternoon hike, these awe-inspiring natural areas will make some wonderful destinations.
Best Gorges & Canyons In Maryland
Maryland might not be the first state you think about when you are looking for deep canyons and breathtaking gorges, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by these two natural wonders.
Mather Gorge, Potomac, MD 20854, USA
Location: Potomac, MD Wow Factor: With epic views, rushing rapids, rocky cliffs to admire, and miles of hiking trails, the Mather Gorge is simply, well "gorge." Cost: Hike along the dramatic cliff faces in Mather Gorge as often as you'd like with a $35 annual park pass. Visitors can also purchase a one-time-use vehicle pass for $20 or a per-person fee of $10 for walk-ins.
This beautiful gorge splits Maryland and Virginia along the Potomac River. Maryland's Billy Goat Trail is a fantastic hiking trail that will make you feel like an actual billy goat as you scramble over rocks and stare down the twisty bending river below. Mather Gorge is downriver from the iconic Great Falls which is another natural area worth exploring.
Rocky Gap State Park, 12900 Lake Shore Dr, Flintstone, MD 21530, USA
Location: Flintstone, MD Wow Factor: Western Maryland is quite the treat when it comes to outdoor adventures. Rocky Gap State Park will wow you with canyon views and a delightful man-made 243-acre lake named Lake Habeeb. Cost: From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend Maryland residents will pay $4/person; out-of-state residents are $6/person.
If you want to experience beautiful canyon views from above start out at the Tough of Natural Trail Parking Lot where you'll find the Rocky Gap Overlook Trail. From the overlook continue on Evitt’s Mountain Homesite Trail to the summit. The views of the valley and river below are quite breathtaking. Of course, the trek to get there will delight you with the scent of an old-growth hemlock forest.
Best Caves In Maryland
Maryland may not be known for its extensive cave systems but there are a few places where you can explore some underground natural attractions in Maryland. From historic sites used in the Civil War to elaborate caves with strange and unusual rock formations, these are some of the state’s best caves.
Crystal Grottoes Caverns, 19821 Shepherdstown Pike, Boonsboro, MD 21713, USA
Location: Boonsboro, MD Wow Factor: There is nothing more other-worldly than exploring deep down inside the earth. With gorgeous underground rock formations and special lighting, this is one experience you'll remember forever. Cost: The standard admission is $23 per person. Kids age 5 to 12 are $13. There are special group rates for parties of 10-plus. The Gem Mine Experience "treasure bags" have a cost ranging from $9 to $35 depending on the type and size.
Along the Shepherdstown Pike (Maryland Route 34) you'll discover this hidden gem, which could even lead you to find real gems! As the only show cave in Maryland, this natural wonder has been a main tourist attraction since 1922. During your 30 to 45-minute tour, you'll explore dark tunnels, be amazed by interesting rock formations, and even have the opportunity to mine your own gems, fossils, and hidden treasures!
Killiansburg Cave Campsite, Sharpsburg, MD 21782, USA
Location: Sharpsburg, MD Wow Factor: This hidden gem located in a forest along the Potomac River was used by soldiers and civilians during the Civil War as a hiding place from the intense Battle of Antietam. Cost: There is no fee to explore the area near the cave, however fee-based and non-fee-based camping is available.
Along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath, you'll find this hidden cave around mile marker 75.7. About 100 feet from the towpath is a large rock wall with the cave tucked quietly beneath it. While it isn't a vast underground cave system it does have a unique history that dates back to the Civil War. Killiansburg Cave and other smaller caves were emergency sanctuaries for those fleeing battle. Today, they make fun places to hike and explore during a day trip near Cumberland, MD.
Best Waterfalls In Maryland
If you enjoy the peaceful trickle of running water over stone or the intense rush of a
rapidly flowing cascade, these natural attractions in Maryland of the waterfall sort should be right up your alley.
Muddy Creek Falls, Maryland 21550, USA
Location: Oakland, MD Wow Factor: When you first hear Maryland's tallest waterfall plunging into a pool of water surrounded by towering cliffs you'll know you are in for a treat. Cost: The service charge to enter Swallow Falls State Park is $3 per person for Maryland residents and $5 per person for non-residents from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Throughout the rest of the year, the cost is $3 per car and $5 per car respectively.
Swallow Falls State Park is another beautiful natural area in Maryland. Take the Swallow Falls Canyon Trail to explore a lush Maryland forest with a nice waterfall surprise. Muddy Creek Falls is Maryland's highest free-falling waterfall, and it is a beautiful sight when you first get a peek through the trees. The waterfall is a satisfying 53 feet tall so it plunges quite nicely into a basin of water carved out by the Youghiogheny River.
Cunningham Falls State Park, 14274 William Houck Dr, Thurmont, MD 21788, USA
Location: Thurmont, MD Wow Factor: Not only will you love the rocky watery cascade known as Cunningham Falls but you can take a pit stop at Hunting Creek Lake - a man-made beach in Cunningham Falls State Park. Cost: Cunningham Falls State Park has a $3 per person fee for residents of Maryland and $5 per person for out-of-state visitors. On Holidays and weekends, the fee is $5 and $7 respectively.
With fantastic hiking trails through the woods and over rocks and streams, Cunningham Falls State Park is an outdoor adventure lover's playground. The waterfall itself cascades over several tiers to plunge into a pool of water surrounded by boulders in a quiet alcove. The park has plenty of opportunities for camping, biking, and hiking, so you'll never run out of interesting places to explore.
Kilgore Falls, 1026 Falling Branch Rd, Pylesville, MD 21132, USA
Location: Pylesville, MD Wow Factor: Have you ever stood under a rushing waterfall? The feeling is exhilarating - and you can do just that at Maryland's second-highest waterfall - Kilgore Falls. Cost: Maryland residents will pay $3 per person on weekends and $2 per vehicle on weekdays. Out-of-state guests are $5 per person on weekends and $4 per vehicle on weekdays.
This Rock State Park natural wonder is one of the best nature spots in Maryland to cool off on a hot summer day. Take the 1.2-mile Falling Branch Trail to the falls where you'll discover to your hard-working delight that the entire basin beneath the falls is open for wading, swimming, and lounging after your hike. It is a beautiful area to enjoy an afternoon in the sun. It's also incredibly beautiful in the fall surrounded by a bounty of colorful leaves.
Best Overlooks & Scenic Vistas In Maryland
When you think about must-see nature in Maryland, a good
scenic overlook from the top of a mountain range might come to mind. But there are some surprising scenic wonders in Maryland that you might not at first think of. Don’t worry, we have some incredible mountain views too.
Catoctin Mountain Park, 14707 Park Central Rd, Thurmont, MD 21788, USA
Location: Thurmont, MD Wow Factor: The beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains make for numerous scenic vistas and outlooks at various locations. Catoctin Mountain Park has 25 miles of trails that will lead you to amazing views. Cost: Free: An entrance pass is not required at Catoctin Mountain Park.
Two of the most popular hiking trails in Catoctin Mountain Park are the Wolf Rock and Chimney Rock trails. Combined they form a 3.4-mile loop trail that takes you to two scenic overlooks. You'll also be able to hike to Cunningham Falls. The views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the high points on these trails are incredible year-round with each season offering a unique perspective on the beautiful valleys below.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge, 357 Pier 1 Rd, Stevensville, MD 21666, USA
Location: Stevensville to Annapolis, MD Wow Factor: The views you'll get of the Bay Bridge from below and the ones you'll enjoy while driving across may not be your typical scenic views - but they are incredible in a whole new way. Cost: There is a toll to drive over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Payment can be made with a FasTrak toll tag, a License Plate Account, or a One-Time Payment. Rates vary from as low as $6.40 for carpools to nearly $10 if you don't pay before crossing - you will receive a handy invoice in the mail if you don't have an advance payment method ahead of time.
A scenic view of another kind can be enjoyed from the tall heights of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. This incredible 4.3-mile man-made wonder takes 25 minutes to cross by vehicle. It connects Maryland's eastern shore with the urban western shore. At its highest point, you will look out over Maryland's landscape and the Chesapeake Bay from a somewhat nerve-tingling 186 feet. If heights and claustrophobia aren't your friends, you may want to skip a tour of Maryland's most iconic bridge.
King & Queen Seat at Rocks State Park, Unnamed Road, Jarrettsville, MD 21084, USA
Location: Jarrettsville, MD Wow Factor: The King & Queen Seat is one of the most breathtaking spots in all of Maryland, but this epic perch isn't for the faint of heart. Cost: Reservations are required to visit Rocks State Park on the weekends and holidays from May until Labor Day. The entrance fee for Maryland residents is $3 per person on weekends and $2 per vehicle on weekdays. Out-of-state guests are $5 per person on weekends and $4 per vehicle on weekdays.
Rocks State Park is a fitting name for this gorgeous rocky wonderland. If you love scrambling over rocks and jumping from stone to stone like a little kid, the hiking trails in this park are incredible. But the interesting rock formations along the trails aren't even the best part. When you reach the trail end you'll discover an awe-worthy spot called The King & Queen Seat - the views as you daringly stand or sit near the end of the rocky precipice will make your heart leap out of your chest.
Best Rock Formations in Maryland
Some of the best nature in Maryland might not be lush green forests and scenic views – sometimes it is unusual rock formations and soaring cliffs. Here are a couple of Maryland’s finest locations to enjoy a rocky experience.
Calvert Cliffs State Park, 10540 H G Trueman Rd, Lusby, MD 20657, USA
Location: Lusby, MD Wow Factor: One of the most remarkable beaches to find fossils and shark teeth - you may even find a giant prehistoric tooth from a Megalodon shark! Cost: A day-use permit for Calvert Cliffs State Park is $5 per vehicle for in-state residents and $7 for out-of-state guests.
Calvert Cliffs State Park is a wonderfully scenic place to explore from boardwalk hikes to its incredible beach. Take the 1.8-mile Red Trail to the beach where you'll discover amazing steep rock faces that were formed around 10 to 20 million years ago. Over 600 species of fossils have been discovered at Calvert Cliffs along with numerous species of shark teeth. If you log fascinating historic rock formations and the prospect of doing a little treasure hunting, you should put a visit to Calvert Cliffs on your bucket list.
Rock Maze Trail, 3739 Snaggy Mountain Rd, Oakland, MD 21550, USA
Location: Oakland, MD Wow Factor: Imagine losing yourself in a maze of towering rocks - don't worry you probably won't get lost forever, but it is a really cool place to explore. Cost: There is no fee to hike the Rock Maze Trail. Parking is near the intersection of Cranesville and Snaggy Mountain Roads.
There is a short and sweet 0.8-mile hike in Garrett State Forest that really needs to be on your bucket list. The Rock Maze Trail is located in the Snaggy Mountain area of Western Maryland. The moss-covered walls of stone with tree roots growing in and around them feel like another world. And it truly feels like you are in an ancient stone labyrinth as you wander between the crevices and pathways that most certainly are hiding a grumpy minotaur.
Unique Natural Wonders in Maryland
Between Maryland’s many National parks and state parks there are quite a few more places to explore that definitely deserve a spot on our list of
Natural wonders in Maryland. Here are a few fun surprises we think you’ll really love.
Assateague Island National Seashore, National Seashore Lane, Berlin, MD, USA
Location: Berlin, MD Wow Factor: Assateague Island has some of the most beautiful and enchanting beaches in Maryland - and there is a hidden surprise - wild horses! Cost: There is an annual park pass for Assateague State Park that runs $45. It is valid for both the Maryland side and the Virginia side. Walk-in or bike-in visitors do not have to pay a fee. There are seven-day passes as well for $25 for a vehicle or $15 per individual if you enter via a non-private vehicle (buses, taxis, etc..)
This 37-mile barrier island south of Ocean City between the Atlantic Ocean and Maryland's Delmarva Peninsula (the southern portion of the island is in Virginia) is an incredibly peaceful spot to enjoy the salty sea air. It is also home to a herd of wild horses that some believe were left behind when pirates came ashore to bury treasure. Others suggest the wild ponies are descendants of Spanish horses that were shipwrecked off the Virginia coast in the 16th Century. Whatever their origin, they are now an integral part of the history and natural beauty of Assateague Island.
Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, USA
Location: Garrett County, MD Wow Factor: If lake life is your jam, a road trip to Maryland's largest freshwater lake in Deep Creek Lake State Park will treat you to all of your favorite lakeside activities. Cost: A day pass to Deep Creek State Park is $3 per vehicle for Maryland residents and $5 per vehicle for out-of-state guests. There is cabin rental and camping available as well with varying rates.
Load up your kayak and get ready for a weekend getaway to one of Maryland's most beautiful lakes. Deep Creek Lake and its 3,900-acre park with 69 miles of shoreline is an incredible natural wonder. It is a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. If you enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, biking, or even horse-drawn sleigh rides in the winter there is something for you to enjoy at Deep Creek Lake State Park.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 2145 Key Wallace Dr, Cambridge, MD 21613, USA
Location: Dorchester County, MD Wow Factor: If quiet sunrises and serine sunsets are high on your list of things that make you happy, Blackwater will soothe your soul. And if you happen to also love birdwatching and other forms of wildlife, there is no better place in Maryland to visit. Cost: Wildlife Drive has a daily fee of $3 per vehicle and $1 per hiker or biker. Head to the visitor center to pick up your pass.
One of the highlights of the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge is Wildlife Drive. This 4-mile long drive (or walk or bike ride) lets you tour the wildlife-rich environment with marches, forests, grassy fields, and man-made ponds. It is a wonderful way to spot bald eagles, ospreys, egrets, great blue herons, foxes, flying squirrels, and muskrats in their native habitats. And that is only the short list of creatures and birds you might discover.
There are numerous nature places in Maryland just waiting to be discovered. What are some of your favorite natural wonders in Maryland? Share some of your best adventures with us in the comment section. Then, start planning your own
natural wonders road trip through Maryland. And don’t forget to check out our road trip essentials packing list!
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