June marks the last few weeks of school, the beginning of summer and the perfect time to get outside! The Department of Natural Resources makes celebrating Great Outdoors Month fun and easy with its network of beautiful state parks, a variety of educational programs and the AccessDNR mobile app.
From trekking the mountains of western Maryland, to swimming in Deep Creek Lake, to camping at Assateague Island, Maryland’s 66 State Parks offer recreation to satisfy all types of interests. And with the location-based AccessDNR app, users can easily discover and locate state parks, trails, boat launches and hunting lands, in relation to where they are.
For those in search of guided activities, DNR’s Calendar of Events lists a variety of scheduled opportunities including nature crafts, animal encounters, pontoon tours, educational hikes, stargazing, fishing trips and much more. Available throughout June, and all year long, most of these DNR-sponsored activities are extremely affordable, if not free. And don’t forget, June 6 and 13 (and July 4) are free fishing days in Maryland!
The Maryland Park Service has planned a series of outdoor activities on National Trails Day, Saturday, June 6. These family-friendly events include an array of activities, such as guided hikes, trail maintenance projects, as well as geocaching, biking and paddling trips.
Saturday, June 27, the Great American Backyard Campout encourages families to experience nature through camping. To celebrate, Patapsco Valley State Park, Fair Hill NRMA, and Merkel Wildlife Sanctuary are offering special camping activities.
Throughout the summer, 1,000 teams will participate in Park Quest 2015, a family-based outdoor recreational program of kayaking, hiking, biking and enjoying historical adventures in select state parks. Although the challenge is officially filled for this year, interested families can still take part in most quests. Note: Unregistered participants must pay park entry fee and are not eligible for Park Quest Rendezvous.
Maryland State Parks are also offering Junior Ranger programs, where young people ages 7-14 can explore the parks’ natural and historical areas, learn stewardship and participate in recreational opportunities, while earning achievement awards.
This is Maryland’s ninth year celebrating Great Outdoors Month, which is sponsored nationally by the American Recreation Coalition. June is an active time for recreation across the U.S., featuring hundreds of national events, ranging from Trails Day and Boating and Fishing Week, to Family Recreation Week and Clean Beaches Week.
As part of the new Chesapeake Bay Agreement’s environmental literacy goal, partners have committed to helping youth connect with their natural world and grow to become responsible stewards of the watershed. Through the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature, in 2010 Maryland became the first state to adopt a high school graduation environmental literacy requirement. Now, each Bay jurisdiction is charged with developing a comprehensive approach to environmental literacy that includes policies, practices and metrics.
For more places to go or things to do outdoors, including national park sites and events partner- hostedevents, visit dnr.maryland.gov/cin/CMO.