Maryland Park Service Alcohol Policy

The Maryland Park Service provides outdoor recreational experiences for millions of visitors each year. Our State Parks feature recreational amenities, as well as campsites, full-service cabins, and picnic shelters where families can enjoy nature-based activities that are close enough to home for everyone to enjoy.

To maintain and ensure a safe, family-oriented outdoor recreation experience for all park guests, the Maryland Park Service regulates the consumption of alcohol in State Parks. This policy has been adopted in the interest of all park patrons to maintain the family atmosphere of State Parks while still allowing for the appropriate consumption of alcoholic beverages under a special permit process.

The policy is stated as such:

  • The consumption, or possession of an open container, of an alcoholic beverage is prohibited in all State Park areas, including campgrounds.
  • Full-service cabins are exempt.
  • Per State law, motor homes are exempt.
  • Alcohol will be allowed at designated picnic shelters through the purchase of an alcohol permit available via the standard reservation process.
  • A $35 fee will be charged for each alcohol permit.
  • Permits may be issued upon request by the park manager for special events operating under a Use Agreement.
  • A permit may be revoked for cause by the park manager, their designee or a Natural Resources Police officer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I consume alcohol in my park cabin?

  • Yes, alcohol may be consumed in full-service cabins by those of legal drinking age.
  • Alcohol may not be consumed in camper cabins (mini-cabins). Camper cabins are commonly located in campgrounds or within close proximity, and therefore present a potential conflict with the family atmosphere of the park campground if visitors are consuming alcohol.

Will I be cited for having unopened containers of alcoholic beverages in my vehicle?

  • No, per State law, park patrons may transport unopened alcoholic beverages in their vehicles to access areas where alcohol is allowed.

Why has the Maryland Park Service adopted its alcohol policy?

The Maryland Park Service has adopted its alcohol consumption policy to ensure a high quality, safe experience for all State Park visitors. It is intended to:

  • Reduce the incidence of undesirable behaviors of park patrons who consume alcohol to excess. In 2008, before the current policy was implemented, the Natural Resources Police issued 413 citations for alcohol-related incidents and 32 DUI citations.
  • Reduce impacts on state facilities and natural resources;
  • Ensure the safety of park patrons, park staff and Natural Resources Police officers.

Who can request an alcohol permit and how can I obtain one?

  • Alcohol permits are being issued for $35 through the standard reservation process for a designated shelter.
  • Alcohol permits may be issued upon request by the park manager for special events operating under a Use Agreement with the Maryland Park Service.

How much does an alcohol permit cost?

  • A $35 fee will be charged for each permit. The permit may be revoked for cause by the park manager, their designee or a Natural Resources Police officer. All revenue will be used to support state park operations and improvements.

Do other state and county park systems ban alcohol consumption?

  • All Maryland county park systems either ban the consumption of alcohol or require an alcohol permit with the rental of a picnic shelter.
  • Alcohol is banned in 19 state park systems: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
  • Alcohol is banned without a permit in five state parks systems: Delaware, Florida, New Hampshire, South Carolina, West Virginia.

Is there a fine if I am cited for violating the alcohol policy?

  • Yes, a natural resource citation with a pre-payable fine of $55 may be issued for violation of the policy.