Maryland's Natural Areas

Maryland is often referred to as “America in Miniature” because so many unique landscapes are found within its borders. The Maryland Natural Areas initiative seeks to identify the best remaining natural areas found within our state.

These Natural Areas are truly special places in Maryland. Voluntary recognition as a Natural Area carries a commitment to sustainable management of a given area to conserve the natural features that the area was established to recognize and protect. In most cases, current management practices have maintained the exceptional natural features that distinguish these sites.

In the end, the goals of this effort are to identify and conserve Natural Areas for future generations while increasing public awareness of these special natural places.

Natural Areas Map
Click Here to locate & explore some of Maryland's finest Natural Areas.

What are the benefits of a Natural Areas system?

Natural Areas Are:

  • A coordinated statewide system that recognizes and seeks to conserve the best remaining examples of Maryland’s native landscapes for future generations.

Natural Areas Are Not:

  • “Hands off” preserves where no management may take place. While this may be an appropriate approach for some sites, other sites will need active management to sustain the plants, animals and natural communities that led to the recognition of the natural area in the first place. For example, in some cases, management of human visitation and use may be necessary while others may require invasive species control, prescribed burns, or hunting to maintain the integrity and sustainability of the natural area.

Kayaking Mattawoman Creek Natural Area, photo byu Julie Kiang


Kayak the Mattawoman Creek Natural Area to get a glimpse of the rare American lotus. Photo by Julie Kiang.