Get Outside: 5 Great Camping Spots Near DC


There’s still plenty of time left this year to head out of town and sleep under the stars, so we’ve rounded up five notable places to camp in the DC area for every taste, from rustic tent campers who don’t mind roughing it, to more sensitive folks looking for an entrance into the world of camping.

Elizabeth Furnace Campground

About 80 miles west of DC is the Elizabeth Furnace Recreational Area, located in the George Washington National Forest, which features a pair of camping areas suited for a variety of needs: a family camping area with a few dozen designated sites and a group camping area that’s more open and rustic. Both are situated nearby plenty of well-maintained nature trails on the site of the old Elizabeth Furnace grounds, which were used in the production of pig iron in the 1800s, as well as a stocked trout stream and plenty of other historical sites. 15618 Fort Valley Rd. Fort Valley, VA

Mathews Arm Campground

The lush Shenandoah National Park house the beautifully wooded Mathews Arm Campground, a family-friendly campground with over 150 sites suitable for tents and RVs alike. Try out a stretch of the famous Appalachian Trail, take in the views of the nearly 100 foot tall Overall Run Falls, or just enjoy the seclusion and quiet of one of the best National Parks in the country. There’s plenty of wildlife to scope out, including the occasional bear, so be sure to keep your living space tidy and your food locked up! Mile 22 Skyline Dr. Rileyville, VA

William Houck Campground

The William Houck Campground is the larger and more modernized of the two campgrounds located within Maryland’s Cunningham Falls State Park (those hoping for a more isolated stay should check out the quiet Manor Area Campground). Houck offers easy access to much of what Cunningham Falls has to offer, including a gorgeous waterfall, a swimmer-friendly lake, and the Catoctin Furnace, an iron forge originally built during the American Revolution. If you don’t have RV money and not one for tent camping, but still want a chance to enjoy the space, grab a reservation at one of their eight cabins, which sleep between 4 and 6 people apiece. 14039 Catoctin Hollow Rd. Thurmont, MD

Burke Lake Park

Just 25 miles southwest of downtown DC, Burke Lake Park has plenty of fun to keep even the least outdoorsy family entertained, from low-impact sports like mini golf and disc golf to kiddo friendly rides like a miniature train and a carousel. There’s also a pleasantly wooded campground with plenty of space for both tent campers and RV folk looking for a quick and easy weekend away. 7315 Ox Rd. Fairfax Station, VA

Savage River Lodge

For those looking for a bit more of a luxurious stay out in nature, there’s Savage River Lodge, an upscale collection of cabins and yurts, (as well as the cozy namesake lodge), allowing for those with a taste for “glamping” to thrive in the outdoors. The eighteen cabins are well-maintained and stocked with all the essentials, including a massive down mattress, gas log fireplace, and a soaking tub, while the eight quirky yurts are elegantly decorated, circular structures with full plumbing *and* daily muffin deliveries. If you’re not sold on the whole “camping” thing, this is a great, albeit pricey, first step towards becoming the outdoorsy type. 1600 Mt Aetna Rd. Frostburg, MD

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