- 30 miles (48 km)
- 30 minutes to 2 hours
- No fees to drive the byway.
The Baltimore-Washington Parkway is the ceremonial entrance route into the nation's capital from the north. In the 1920s the federal government's parkway system for Washington, D.C., based on Pierre Charles L'Enfant's layout of the Capital, included plans for this byway. Although the construction did not begin until 1942, at the end of the American parkway movement, this byway exemplifies one of the last such roads constructed and the only fully developed parkway of its kind in Maryland. Its character continues today. This byway was recently dedicated to the late Senator Gladys Noon Spellman.
The Baltimore-Washington Parkway was opened on October 1954. An average of 21,000 vehicles traveled it the first week, 6,000 more than expected. This ribbon of road maintains the integrity of the area and preserves the natural topography by following the landscape architecture. There is limited access, gentle curves, and a park-like setting inviting delightsome driving. The byway is thickly wooded with a variety of trees, including, oak, tulip, ash, maple, sweet gum,sycamore, and pine.
This byway links two metropolitan areas along the "fall line" where the Atlantic coastal plain meets the Piedmont region. As a formal, but scenic, entryway into Washington, D.C., this byway has been a catalyst for the Capital's development as the federal center. In addition, it has connected several suburban-based federal facilities in the Washington area; therefore, cutting down the cost of obtaining right-of-way privileges. This byway is managed by the State of Maryland north of MD 175 and the National Park Service to the south.
Points of Interest Along The Way
Agricultural Research Service National Visitor Center (MD)
Historic Beltsville buildings, barns, silos, fields, and animals provide an interesting experience at the Beltsville National Agricultural Research Center. Known as simply 'Beltsville' in agricultural circles, this facility researches various types of foods to determine its quality
The Agriculture Research Service has a visitor center that allows guests to view the research experiments of the USDA and ARS.The visitor center is in a historic Beltsville cabin that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1936-37. The Log Lodge has many displays and exhibits, but it is really the starting and ending point for scheduled tours. Because of the size of the research area, it is probably best to schedule a tour.
Fort George G. Meade and National Security Agency (MD)
Fort George G. Meade, named for the general whose strategy proved to be important during the Battle of Gettysburg, has had an important military influence on America. In 1928, it was renamed, but the citizen protest was so large that the post was permanently named Fort George G. Meade on March 23, 1929. During World War I,World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Operation Desert Shield and conflicts with West Berlin and Cuba, Fort Meade was utilized as a training center for troops.
The first US Army museum was established at Fort Meade in 1963 to honor the service and sacrifice of the American soldier. In 1973the museum was permanently established as the Fort George G. Meade Museum. Its two-fold purpose is: one, to collect, preserve, study and exhibit military artifacts, particularly those items related to Fort Meade, early American armor, as well as the local region; and two, to provide educational services, including identification of military artifacts, lectures on military history and the history of Fort Meade. Special exhibits such as displays of US or captured foreign materials can be arranged for civic groups and active Army or reserve component units.
Goddard Space Flight Center (MD)
The Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA's first major scientific laboratory devoted entirely to the exploration of space, is located in a Maryland suburb outside of Washington, DC. It is home to the nation's largest organization of combined scientists and engineers dedicated to learning and sharing their knowledge of the earth, solar system, and universe.
It has a variety of research resources that assist in expanding knowledge of Earth, its environment, the solar system and the universe through space observations. This includes the Hubble Space Telescope Control Center and more. Goddard is a unique facility that houses personnel with the expertise encompassing all phases of space missions from designing, building, and testing spacecraft to communicating, tracking, and operating satellites in orbit.
The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Visitors Center contains an interactive Earth Gallery, providing up-to-date information about our knowledge of Earth's systems and provides a scenic view of Goddard Space Flight Center. The Visitors Center offers many unique programs, including tours, special events and presentations that highlight Goddard's contributions to America's Space Program. It is also home to a theater, real-time NOAA weather readout station, and links to Earth Science Internet sites. Walking tours are about 2.5 hours, but are not suitable for children under the age of ten.
Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens (MD)
One of the Capitol's best kept secrets is the experience of Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. It constitutes approximately700 acres and is part of Anacostia Park. The Park includes the"Gardens," Kenilworth Marsh, ball fields and recreational facilities. The origins of Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens result from the 1791 L'Enfant Plan for the District of Columbia,and also the McMillan Plan of 1901. The latter specifically recommended a public parkland extension along both sides of the Anacostia River. Keep your eyes open for butterflies and birds. In the spring, delicate azure butterflies are seen. In addition, there are often reports of birds of prey and ground-nesting birds, which are rare in urban locations.
Initially, in 1882, the Aquatic Gardens were a hobby of Civil War veteran W.B. Shaw. It operated for 56 years as a commercial water garden. During this time, Mr. Shaw and his daughter, Mrs. L.Helen Fowler, developed many new varieties of water lilies, two of which bear their names. In 1938, the Gardens were purchased from Fowler by the Federal Government. It was at that time that the facility ceased operating as a commercial enterprise and became part of the National Park system.
The Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is the only National Park Service site dedicated solely to aquatic plants exhibition. Along the east bank of the Anacostia River there are 14 acres devoted to the beautiful gardens. Amid the varieties of water lilies and lotus on display, the birds, frogs, turtles, butterflies, and dragonflies also benefit from the oasis-like gardens. The Gardens are included on the National Register of Historic Places and are also designated as a Category II Landmark.
The Kenilworth Marsh is a 77-acre, semi-natural area that borders the Aquatic Gardens on three sides. The Kenilworth Marsh,Washington, D.C.'s last tidal marsh, provides opportunities for educational activities and environmental study. Even though the marsh and adjacent swamp forest areas have suffered some of the effects of urban development, this area still supports a diversity of wetland plant and wildlife species that are unusual in the inner city. Reconstruction efforts in 1992-1993 restored portions of Kenilworth Marsh, and also improved 32 acres of non-vegetated mud into developing tidal marsh. Some of the wildlife present are American bitterns, beaver, long-billed marsh wrens, and spotted salamanders. The River Trail, 0.7 mile long, is the best view of Kenilworth Marsh and the adjacent swamp forest. The River Trail can be accessed by entering the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and ends at a channel which connects the marsh to the tidal Anacostia River.
Lincoln Memorial (MD)
Amid the battles of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln fought to preserve the United States and its ideals. The Lincoln Memorial is a tribute to this noble man. In honor of the 16th president, a majestic statute of Abraham Lincoln sits in the center chamber of the memorial. He seems to be monitoring the nation's progress as he gazes over the National Mall's reflecting pool.
The American sculptor Daniel Chester French, who also designed the "The Minute Man" statue located in Concord, was commissioned to sculpt Lincoln's tribute. French described his work by saying, "The memorial tells you just what manner of man you are come to pay homage to; his simplicity, his grandeur, and his power."
In 1915, fifty years after Lincoln's assassination, the memorial's construction began. Built to resemble a Greek temple, the memorial has 36 Doric columns, representing the number of states at the time of Lincoln's death. Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address is displayed on the edifice's south wall below a mural, painted by Jules Guerin, showing the "angel of truth" freeing a slave. Directly across, on the north wall, is Lincoln's second inaugural address etched below another Guerin mural representing the unity of the North and South. The building and sculpture were dedicated by President Warren G. Harding on May 30, 1922.
Since its dedication in 1922, the Lincoln Memorial has been the backdrop for numerous events and public protests. It was on the memorial's steps that singer Marian Anderson gave her Easter Sunday concert in 1939 after being turned away from Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution. It is also where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in August 1963. Antiwar protesters also came to the memorial steps in the late 1960s and early 1970s to raise their voices against the U.S. role in Vietnam.
The National Mall in Washington, D.C.
National Arboretum (MD)
The National Arboretum’s beautiful 446-acre campus and 91/2 miles of roadway is the only federally funded Arboretum in the country. Located in Washington DC, it contains an array of display gardens, collections, and historical monuments set among native stands of eastern deciduous trees. The collections, ranging from conifers and dogwoods to azaleas, herbs, and various perennials,provide an assortment of scenic splendors. As a research extension of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, the National Arboretum also has many educational opportunities.
National Mall (MD)
The National Mall was imagined by Pierre L’Enfant as part of the plans for Washington, DC. The Nation’s Capital has many memorials to the people who served and died in American wars,former Presidents, and other prominent Americans. Among the 2,000American elms, the 3,000 Japanese cherry trees, the botanical gardens displaying varieties of flowers, and the 35 ornamental pools and fountains, the various monuments and memorials have become emblems of America. These symbols have also been a way to revere those who have fought for America’s freedoms. The Mall is an ideal forum for national expressions of grief, remembrance,and protest.
The Mall includes the Memorials of Franklin Delano Roosevelt,the Korean War, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and the Vietnam Veterans. In addition, President’s Park (White House), the Washington Monument, and the Smithsonian Museums are contained in the Mall. These images of America’s freedom and history have contributed to the site’s mass appeal. By combining the majesty of the numerous monuments and the varieties of trees and flowers, the National Mall has become one of the most visited and photographed places in the world.
Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge (MD)
The Patuxent National Wildlife Research Center strives to conserve and protect the nation’s wildlife and habitat through wildlife management techniques and research. The refuge is divided into three areas: north, central, and south. The northern area offers hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, trails, and many interpretive programs. The central area houses the research facilities. The southern area is where the National Wildlife Visitor Center and its trails are located. The National Wildlife Visitor Center and North Tract are the only areas open for visitor activities.
The National Wildlife Visitor Center seeks to increase knowledge of and appreciation for the earth's vital resources. This interactive visitors center features exhibits about wildlife habitats, endangered species, the global environment, migration of birds, and scientists’ techniques. It highlights the research conducted in the central area. It also offers hiking trails, tram tours, a seasonal fishing program, wildlife management demonstration areas, and an outdoor education site for school classes.
Patuxent Research Refuge manages a range of diverse wildlife in forest, meadow, and wetland habitats. The land is maintained to preserve biological diversity and to ensure the protection of native and migratory species. During the fall and spring migrations, many waterfowl species stop to rest and feed. Over 200species of birds arrive on the Refuge.
The northern area is open for public use if that use is compatible with the research and wildlife management objectives.The area includes 8,100 acres that were military training areas,transferred to the Refuge in 1991. The North Tract includes opportunities to hunt, fish, observe wildlife, and take guided tours.
All visitors must check in at the Visitor Contact Station located at the North Tract entrance. Each visitor must receive an access pass to use the facilities, but certain activities may require additional licenses.
Savage Mill and the Bollman Truss Railroad Bridge (MD)
During the peak of the American textile industry, Savage was an important manufacturing center. By harnessing the falls’ waterpower of the Little and Middle Patuxent Rivers, John Savage,the town’s namesake, built up the mill. The cotton was shipped from Southern ports and then transported across land using mule or oxen teams. Eventually the B & O railroad was established near the mill in 1835. In 1887, the spur of the railroad was laid to the Savage factory. This is when the famous Bollman Truss railroad bridge was moved from another location to its present site.
Parts of the Savage Mill are said to date from about 1820.Historians have recorded that the mill once had an iron foundry which made many kinds of machinery specializing in textile manufacturing. During World War II, the mill employed 400 people who produced about 400,000 pounds of cloth a month in 16 mill buildings.
Savage Mill and the iron truss bridge, the only one of its type in the world, are on the National Register of Historic Places.Today, the mill no longer functions, but Savage Mill has been restored as a unique marketplace. The abundance of shops sell a variety of items from regional interior design to antiques and hand-crafted goods. But, it is more than a shopping mall, it is a place to explore the history of a Maryland textile town.
With 140 million artifacts and specimens, the Smithsonian Institute strives to increase knowledge in the United States. It has been dedicated to public education, national service, and scholarship in the arts, sciences, and history. The intriguing collection of exhibits and complementary activities could take many hours, or even days, to fully enjoy or understand.
James Smithson donated the funds to establish the Smithsonian in1846. It continues today as not only a place to display national treasures, but an Institution dedicated to research. The Smithsonian Institute includes 16 museums and galleries, the National Zoo, and numerous research centers in the United States and abroad. Nine of the museums are located on the National Mall, but the five others and the National Zoo are still located in Washington, DC. (There are a few located in New York City.)
The National Mall in Washington, D.C. However, parts of the Smithsonian are located in various other places.