Catoctin Mountain Park

Center for the State of the Parks: Park Assessments

Published March 2006

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Located about 60 miles from both Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Catoctin Mountain Park is home to more than 1,000 native plant and animal species. Most of the park’s historic structures, including rustic cabins and camping areas, are still used by visitors and staff. In 1942, Catoctin became home to President Franklin Roosevelt’s private retreat, Shangri-la, now called Camp David.

The condition of the park’s natural resources scored the highest of nearly all parks assessed by NPCA’s Center for State of the Parks thus far. Current overall conditions of Catoctin’s known natural resources rated a “good” score of 82 out of 100. Today, the park features an impressive second-growth ecosystem as a result of restoration efforts and natural regeneration. Visitors to the park enjoy streams with good water quality, forests with healthy trees, and fair air quality alive with sounds of wildlife.

In response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, homeland security and law enforcement duties at Catoctin have significantly increased. As a result, park staff have less time to spend on resource management and interpretation. The park currently has nine fewer staff positions than it did five years ago. Park staff often work double-duty, conducting their interpretive or resource protection work, but also performing law enforcement duties. For example, the park’s museum curator also has law enforcement duties, which limits the amount of time that can be spent working with the museum collection. Historic letters exchanged during the New Deal period, photographs of presidential visits, and artifacts used for charcoaling during the period of rural industry and agriculture are not yet cataloged for park visitors to enjoy.

Our Mid-Atlantic office is working with state and federal agencies to ensure that Catoctin Mountain Park is fully staffed and funded to protect and preserve its natural and cultural treasures. For more information, or what the public and our elected officials can do to help improve the health of this park, please contact Joy Oakes, Mid-Atlantic regional director, at


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