Head out for a weekend of fresh air and fun in nature at Rocky Gap State Park!
Weekend Camping at Rocky Gap State Park
A weekend of camping at Rocky Gap State Park in Western Maryland is a great summer getaway. Located about 2.5 hours Northwest of the DC metro area, Rocky Gap has fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, camping and ranger programs to enjoy your time away from home.
The Rocky Gap park is divided into three distinct use areas. A day use area of the park, the campground area and the Rocky Gap resort area. We chose this park for camping in June because it has its own separate beach area for the campground residents only. This made for peaceful afternoons at the beach and a car free weekend once we arrived.
Activities at the Campground
The campground beach area is well equipped for a weekend’s worth of activities. The beach itself has a swimming area that is watched over by a lifeguard, two beach volleyball courts, a soccer goal area and plenty of sand for digging in. Just up the grassy hill from the sand is a playground, several porch swings, a snack shack, bathhouse and a nature center.
The nature center is open daily except Mondays and generally has at least one kids craft or program per summer day. During our visit my kids (5 and 6) made paper plate screech owls. The nature center also has pelts and skins to touch, live turtles and snakes, books to look at and coloring pages to create. Most activities here are free of charge but some do carry a fee. Check the weekly guide posted near most restrooms and outside the nature center itself to be sure.
Campsites at Rocky Gap are spacious and wooded providing a lot of day time shade. Some sites in loops E and I have access to small docks and fishing piers. All loops have their own bathhouse with flush toilets, changing tables, showers and electricity. In loop F where our site was, the restroom facilities were kept very clean. A small washing station for doing dishes was located outside of the restroom building. Three loops in the campground are dedicated as pet friendly sites and one loop has electricity hook ups.
Rocky Gap Facilities and Location
Rounding out the facilities at Rocky Gap are boat rentals, the amphitheater and the Scales and Tales Aviary. While we did not make it to the latter two during our trip, we did take advantage of the canoe rentals at the campground beach. Canoes and kayaks rent for $10 per hour from the boat house. The maximum number of boaters is two in kayaks and four in canoes. There is no fee for launching your own boat on the lake. Life jackets are provided for all renters. Lake Habeeb encompasses 243 acres and is a scenic lake to paddle on. We saw families of ducks and a beaver swimming during our hour long outing. The water is quite shallow in many spots leading the lake water to be fairly warm even in early summer.
Rocky Gap’s location at close to 1500 feet of elevation gives way to temperatures that are on average 5 to 10 degrees cooler than in the DC area. The fresh mountain air makes for a relaxing weekend. For those not ready to take on tent camping, 14 camper cabins are available to rent through the park website. One room and two room cabins have electricity but no heating or air conditioning. Bunk beds and double beds are included but linens are not provided.
A few tips:
- A camp store on site sells snacks and souvenirs and the snack shack has drinks, hot dogs, pizza and ice cream available on weekends. Plan to bring what you will need with you as the nearest shopping is 10 miles away in Cumberland, MD.
- The camp check in sells firewood for $6 per bundle.
- If you plan to fish, pick up a license before you arrive (kids 16 and under do not need a license). Some fishing poles are available for loan from the nature center.
- Check the availability of sites online. Tent sites are $21.75 plus fees per night.
- Plan for cooler nights. We had pants and sweatshirts on while sitting around the campfire even in late June.
- Bring trash bags! As with all MD state parks there is no trash service. There are dumpsters for the campground on the way out of the park. Hang all trash from allotted hooks and store food in your car or a locked cooler. We had critters visit our trash one night!
- Bring bug spray just in case. We were lucky and did not encounter many bugs at all but I am not sure if this is the case here all summer long.
- A maximum of 6 people are allowed per site.
- For planning purposes, Rocky Gap State Park is about 2 to 2 1/2 hours away from the Greater DC metro area.