Ranger Shea Niemann
Patapsco Valley State Park
8020 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, Md. 21043
Ranger Shea Niemann has been a fan of nature all his life. He has worked as a park ranger at Patapsco Valley State Park for the last two years, but has been with the Maryland park service for the last eight. Niemann first started his career as a seasonal employee at the outdoor discovery summer camp program. When asked what he loves most about his job, Niemann said, “Every day is different and 90 percent of the time my office is outdoors.” Niemann encourages people to get out and explore all the beauty that the Maryland has to offer. “Don’t be afraid to go out and try something new.” He says, “It’s easier than you might expect.” Maryland is so diverse an area that there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are looking to be surrounded by mountains, lakes, rivers, or forest, there is no doubt that you will find it at one of Maryland’s state parks.
Be Prepared For Your Terrain
Maryland is a vast state with a variety of terrain to choose from. Central Maryland is known for its rivers, the Eastern Shore for its beaches, and Western Maryland for its mountains. Niemann advises you to do your research. Choose what kind of scenery you want to be surrounded by. Think about the activities you want to do and the type of weather you want to experience. Pack according to your location. “No matter where you are camping, do your research and know your terrain,” says Niemann. Before setting out for your next camping trip, visit a local outdoor retailer to purchase quality supplies. “You don’t have to buy the most expensive tent.” Niemann says. “Just make sure it is good quality and will suit your needs.”
Mountain views are breathtakingly beautiful. There is much to do in Maryland’s mountainous regions including fishing, whitewater rafting, hiking and mountain climbing. Depending on the season, some of Maryland’s state parks offer cross country skiing. When camping in the mountains, it is important to keep in mind that the weather is constantly changing. Niemann suggests packing a variety of clothing and dressing in layers to prepare for weather changes. There are many different kinds of wildlife in the mountain areas and basic safety procedures should be followed. Do not approach wildlife and keep food stored safely. Swallow Falls State Park is a popular mountain destination for campers and even offers full service cabins.
As would be expected, beach camping is suitable for warmer months. When packing, be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, lightweight clothing and bug spray. Always be prepared for inclement weather. Bring rain gear to help keep you and your camping supplies and equipment dry. Assateague State Park is a highly enjoyable and unique place for beach camping. Here you will have the chance to enjoy watching the wild horses run free as well as enjoy activities such as hiking, biking, and fishing. Assateague is the only oceanfront park in the state. There are no cabins here, but both tent and RV camping are suitable.
Central Maryland Rivers
Central Maryland parks are popular because of their close proximity to D.C. and Baltimore. You can drive 30 minutes outside of the city and be in a secluded area surrounded by nature. There are many rivers to explore which offer exciting hiking opportunities. Be sure to wear comfortable clothing and footwear that is suitable for long hiking trips. Patapsco Valley State Park was the first state park in Maryland and holds a unique and intriguing history.
For those who may be new to camping, take comfort in the fact that park officials are just a phone call away and readily available should you need assistance. Every state park has rangers on duty to help show campers around and get them acquainted with the park. They are there to answer questions, offer advice regarding activities and events and make sure that your stay is safe and enjoyable. Natural Resources Police are also available on site at all times. Every camper receives a resource sheet upon checking in to the park. There they will find a list of helpful numbers should they find themselves in need. “We are always just a phone call away,” says Niemann.
Visit the Department of Natural Resources website for more information about parks and activities.