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​The Washington, DC metro area is home to some of the most beautiful wilderness on the East Coast, and it’s kind of a shame to ignore. Take a drive just a couple of hours outside the city and you’ll find yourself surrounded by mountains, forests, and rivers. Camping is a great way to enjoy these nature areas, and there are a surprising number of places you can sleep under the stars. From quiet, backcountry lots to bustling, family-friendly resorts, there are campgrounds near DC suited for any kind of camper. To help you plan your next weekend outside, we’ve put together a list of the places to go camping near Washington, DC, which you can get to in less time than it takes to binge-watch that new reality show on Netflix.

Best Places to Go Camping Near Washington, DC

 

Cherry Hill Park

  • Distance from Washington, DC: 17 miles (30 minutes by car)
  • Types of Campsites: RV, tent camping, cabins & glamping
  • Open Dates: Year-round
  • Reservations & Cost: Reservations required, site fees vary

Just steps from Washington DC, Cherry Hill Park is a family-owned campground that’s perfect for large groups or families wanting plenty of camping amenities. Here, you can choose from RV sites, tent sites, cabins, glamping pods, yurts, and cottages. They also offer free wifi, laundry, and shower facilities. 

You can spend the day exploring all the activities they have available on-site: swimming, fishing, walking trails, and even mini-golf. If you’re interested in exploring DC, they even offer shuttle service to and from the city at an additional cost. The campground has been operated by the Gurevich family for several generations and it’s a staple in DC camping.

Greenbelt Park

  • Distance from Washington, DC: 17.4 miles (26 minutes by car)
  • Types of Campsites: RV, tent campsites
  • Open Dates: Year-round
  • Reservations & Cost: Reservations required, campsites start at $20 per day

Greenbelt Park is a popular area for outdoor recreation in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. This urban oasis in the forests of Maryland has 172 campsites available all year-round, perfect for camping near DC during any season. The campground offers both RV sites and tent sites, all surrounded by lush nature. What’s even better is that you can take the metro from DC to the Greenbelt station (green line) for easy access to the park!

Camping here is a hiker’s dream as it has miles of trails to explore. Walk the Azalea trail and fall in love with the forest or have lunch at the Sweetgum Picnic area (keep in mind that it’s first come, first serve). If you’re a nature-lover or want an easy way to unplug from the hustle and bustle of the city, this campground is for you!

Lake Fairfax Park

  • Distance from Washington, DC: 22 miles (30 minutes by car)
  • Types of Campsites: RV, tent campsites
  • Open Dates: March to November
  • Reservations & Cost: Reservations required, campsites start at $30 per day

Water lovers, this one’s for you! With 476 acres of parkland, there is no shortage of exploring to do at Lake Fairfax Park. Both RV and tent sites are offered here and all sites have a picnic table and fire ring/grill combo. The campgrounds provide access to potable water, hot shower facilities, and flushing toilets, so you pretty much have everything you need.  

The most unique thing about Lake Fairfax is the water park(yes, you heard me right!). The water park has a 1-acre pool filled with water slides, a lazy river, and tunnels, perfect for family fun. If the water park hasn’t convinced you yet, there’s also a 20-acre lake that offers fishing and paddle boat rentals, walking trails, and a skate park. 

Washington DC/Capitol KOA

  • Distance from Washington, DC: 30 miles (42 minutes by car)
  • Types of Campsites: RV, tent, cabins
  • Open Dates: Year-round
  • Reservations & Cost: Reservations required, site fees vary (see website for details)

With easy access to DC’s attractions, the Capitol KOA campground offers RV sites, tent sites, and cabins along 50 acres of rolling countryside. For people who want all of the creature comforts of home while enjoying some time outside, KOA offers a great balance of amenities for camping near DC. There’s even WiFi! 

While here, fill your weekend with swims at the pool, rent a bike, explore the nature trail or enjoy an outdoor movie. This campground makes it easy to plan and enjoy a weekend getaway in the country.

Oak Ridge Campground

  • Distance from Washington, DC: 34.3 miles (41 minutes by car)
  • Types of Campsites: RV, tent, cabins
  • Open Dates: March to November
  • Reservations & Cost: Reservations required, $26/day site fee

Located in the Prince William National Forest, you can reconnect with nature at the Oak Ridge Campground. With RV sites, tent sites, and cabins available here, it’s a fantastic place for camping in Washington, DC and the surrounding area. Each site comes with a picnic table, lantern loop, and grill. There are also flushable toilets and shower facilities available. 

Aside from campsites, the park has 47 miles of hiking trails, on and off-road biking paths, and fishing areas. You can even take an orienteering course for free to beef up your wilderness skills! Enjoy the peaceful solitude of the backcountry at this campground, but keep in mind they are only open from the first of March to the end of November.

Photo Credit: Mrs. Gemstone (Flickr CC)

Pohick Bay Regional Park

  • Distance from Washington, DC: 25 miles (36 minutes by car)
  • Types of Campsites: Tent sites, cabins
  • Open Dates:
  • Reservations & Cost: Reservations required, site fees vary (see website for details)

If you’re looking for a campsite near the water, enjoy the 1000 bayside acres of the Mason Neck Peninsula and Pohick Bay. Tent sites and cabins are surrounded by the natural beauty of this campground. 

Visitors to Pohick Bay Regional Park will find golf courses (champion, disc, and mini available), hiking trails, seasonal waterpark, boat launches, rentals, and a camp store. The grounds are also equipped with full-service restrooms, showers, laundry, and dishwashing. This campground is known for its peaceful environment and wide range of water activities, perfect for a weekend immersed in nature with many of the basic comforts of home.

Adventure Bound Camping Resort

  • Distance from Washington, DC: 25 miles (38 minutes by car)
  • Types of Campsites: RV, tent, cabins
  • Open Dates: Year-round
  • Reservations & Cost: Reservations required, site fees vary (see website for details)

Whether you want to book a cabin getaway, hang out in your RV, or pitch a tent and sleep under the stars, the Adventure Bound campground has got you covered. You will not have any trouble finding things to do on-site and nearby – the campground itself is fitted with a swimming pool, basketball courts, playground, dog park, and a camp store. Take a day to relax on-site or venture out on the nature trail to explore – it’s the perfect local getaway to spend some time outdoors.

Swains Lock Hiker/Biker Campsite

  • Distance from Washington, DC: 17 miles (31 minutes by car)
  • Types of Campsites: Tent camping
  • Open Dates: April to November
  • Reservations & Cost: No reservations, no fees, sites are first come first serve

If you’re a hiker or biker on a mission, Swains Lock is a fantastic spot for camping near Washington, DC. With a stay limit of one night, Swains Lock is perfect for a day trip. Unlike most of the other campgrounds on our list, sites are only accessible by foot, so expect between a one and five-mile walk in depending on where you park. All sites have a chemical toilet, picnic table, grill, and water. Be aware that potable water may not be available at each site – plan accordingly!

This campground is perfect for campers who want easy access to the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal area. Set up camp and spend the day biking along the trails or taking a scenic hike – there are endless possibilities.

Marsden Tract Group Campground

  • Distance from Washington, DC: 14 mi from DC (25 minutes by car)
  • Types of Campsites: Tent camping
  • Open Dates: Year-round
  • Reservations & Cost: Reservations required, Off season – $20/day site fee/Peak Season – $40/day site fee

Built to provide easy access to outdoor adventurers in the DC metro area, the Marsden Tract Group Campground includes six group campsites that allow up to 30 campers per site. If you’re planning an event or a large family gathering that includes camping near DC, this is the perfect spot for you.

There is access to portable toilets and potable water nearby the site. Keep in mind, there are no cars allowed on the towpath, so the sites are only accessible by foot. The closest parking areas are about one mile out, which means to pack smart and light.

The cmapsite is located right next to the C&O Canal and the Potomac River, which offer a ton of options to explore the outdoors. Spend the day fishing, paddling on the river, hiking the tree-lined trails, or even doing some scrambling on the rocks. If you’re a hiker, check out the nearby Billy Goat Trail; the trail is made up of three sections and is well-known as one of the most challenging rock hikes in the east. 

Turtle Run Campsite

  • Distance from Washington, DC: 38 miles (1 hour by car)
  • Types of Campsites: RV, tent camping
  • Open Dates: April to November
  • Reservations & Cost: Reservations required, $20/day site fee

Further along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, you will find Turtle Run Campsite, a gem of a campground in the DC area. All sites are drive-in and equipped with a chemical toilet, grills, and water. 

Reconnect with nature by hiking one of the nearby trails or kayaking on the water. Then, end your day by sleeping under the stars along the canal. Not only can you experience the natural beauty, but you can also learn about the Civil War history that took place where your tent is pitched. If you are a no-frills type of camper that wants to unplug, this is your spot.

Ramblin’ Pines Campground

  • Distance from Washington, DC: 49 (1 hour, 9 minutes by car)
  • Types of Campsites: RV, tent camping, cabins
  • Open Dates:
  • Reservations & Cost: Reservations required, site fees starting at $30/day

Located in the middle of DC, Frederick, and Baltimore, Ramblin’ Pines is a peaceful wooded campground that has all that you need for RV camping, tent camping, or renting a cabin. The tent sites are relatively small; each site allows two children and two adults max, so that’s a handy thing to know while booking! This full-service campground offers a unique experience in the woods with its heated swimming pool, basketball and volleyball courts, and mini-golf just to name a few. If you don’t want to stray too much from your daily routine, there’s also an exercise room and laundry available. 

Little Bennett Campground

  • Distance from Washington, DC: 31 miles (41 minutes by car)
  • Types of Campsites: RV, tent camping, cabins, and glamping
  • Open Dates: March to November
  • Reservations & Cost: Reservations required, site fees starting at $26/day

As the only campground in Montgomery county, Little Bennett offers 91 sites surrounded by the peaceful setting of the park. RV sites, tent sites, cabins, and yurts are available and each campsite comes with a picnic table, campfire ring, and lantern post. Just a short walk from your site, you have access to full bathhouses with sinks, showers, and toilets. Keep in mind that some sites are not available during the off-season (December-February). 

At Little Bennett Campground, you’ll have access to 3,700 acres of Little Bennett Regional Park to explore, so don’t worry about wasting any time here. With over 25 miles of trails here, take your pick to explore by foot, bike, or horseback. If you want to observe the wildlife, travel over to the wetland area of the Western Piedmont Trail and you might see the eastern bluebird and timberdoodle! Aside from being a natural gem, this park also features 14 historical sites, so you can get your history lesson in too!

Watkins Regional Park

  • Distance from Washington, DC: 20 miles (35 minutes by car)
  • Types of Campsites: Tent camping only
  • Open Dates: March to October (Friday through Sunday)
  • Reservations & Cost: Reservations required, cost is $20 per day

If you’re a camping purist, Watkins Regional Park has a campground that’s perfect for you. Watkins campground offers thirty individual tent sites and three group sites. Come well-prepared to camp here because it is known for being “minimalist.” Yup, that means that you basically get a plot of land and a fire ring, and the rest is on you. This campground is only open from March 1st to November 15th, so plan your visit accordingly. While here, visit the nature center or Maryland farm and get a close-up experience of the wildlife or hop on the train and take in the scenery. 

Shenandoah National Park

  • Distance from Washington, DC: 70 miles (1.5 hours by car)
  • Types of Campsites: RV, tent camping, backcountry
  • Open Dates: March to October
  • Reservations & Cost: Reservations required, cost varies by campsite

Shenandoah National Park is one of the most beautiful green spaces on the East Coast, and is one of the absolute best places to go camping near Washington, DC. While it’s a little farther from the city, at around 1.5 hours by car, it’s filled to the brim with beautiful places to go camping, hiking, wildlife watching, and more. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Appalachian Trail runs right through these tree-filled mountains.

Camping in Shenandoah National Park is in high demand during the warmer months, so we’d strongly recommend researching and reserving a campsite well in advance. Within the park there are four campgrounds (and one groups-only campground) you can choose from:

  • Loft Mountain
  • Lewis Mountain
  • Big Meadows
  • Mathews Arm
  • Dundo Group Campground (large groups only)

Shenandoah is also considered a dark sky area and, when the sky is clear, you can even see the Milky Way! If you’re looking for a full immersion into nature and an escape from city life, Shenandoah awaits.

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