Explore and Learn About Nearby National Parks During Fee-Free Day on August 4

August 02, 2022 | By Baltimore County Public Library

Five times a year, the National Park Service (NPS) waives its entrance fees to welcome all to explore its sites. Maryland is home to 18 national parks with around 5 million visitors per year. Of the 18, five parks typically have entrance fees that are waived during fee-free days. The next fee-free day is Thursday, August 4, in commemoration of the Great American Outdoors Act. Here’s a little more about the five parks participating in fee-free day along with books from our collection to highlight the history of each and to help you plan.   


1. Antietam National Battlefield 

Located in Washington County, this park is known as the site of the bloodiest day in American history when 23,000 soldiers were killed during the battle of Antietam. It ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia's first invasion into the North and led Abraham Lincoln to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Explore the area on a self-guided hike or join a park ranger for a more detailed tour and battlefield talk.  

2. Assateague Island 

This gem along the Eastern Shore is a Maryland classic and a popular summer vacation spot. You can camp, explore the sandy beaches and see the wild horses, reminiscing about the time you read “Misty of Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry about the wildest mare on the island. There is also a junior ranger program where kids can earn a badge after completing the activity booklet. 

3. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal 

Known as the C&O Canal, it’s dubbed 184 miles of adventure along the mountainside in Allegany County. The canal was a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River who used it as a transportation hub to the market. You can hike, take a boat ride or just take in the breathtaking scenic views. Grab “Discovering the C&O Canal and Adjacent Potomac River” by Mark D. Dabatke to help you plan. 

4. Fort McHenry National Monument 

This national park is a little closer to home in Baltimore City, making it perfect for a short day trip. The fort's history holds many stories from the Civil War to WWII, including the defense of the fort during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words that would become the U.S. national anthem.  Before heading out, you can brush up on Baltimore’s history by grabbing a book from our collection! There’s something for all ages. 

5. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park 

Venturing west to the border of Maryland and West Virginia is Harpers Ferry. NPS describes this park as the meshing of the pivotal pieces of the American story with the breathtaking natural beauty of the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains and rushing waters of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Explore the 19th century buildings, the Civil War Museum and John Brown’s fort. Four-legged friends are also welcome and can even become “BARK” rangers. You can find several books and audiobooks in our collection about John Brown, the abolitionist who led the fight to take over the federal armory, arsenal and rifle factory. Perfect choices for reading or listening along your drive to this majestic destination. 

Category: Collection and Materials