Taking a road trip from Orlando to Patapsco Valley State Park crosses a series of six of the original 13 colonies with an extra benefit when you arrive at Patapsco Valley State Park. The park encompasses 14,270 acres of Maryland just west of Baltimore, providing a beautiful vacationing spot for families living and working in the area. From this park, you have ample opportunity to explore the nearby urban areas, including Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Alexandria. If you are interested in extending your journey, there are four national parks within easy driving distance of the direct route to add to your Orlando to Patapsco Valley State Park RV road trip. While each extension adds miles and hours to your trip, they also add an opportunity to tour the Florida peninsula and visit the ridgelines of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Everglades National Park
At the start of your road trip from Orlando to Patapsco Valley State Park, you can extend your vacation 300 miles to include the entire width of the Everglades National Park as it crosses from the west to the east coast of the Florida peninsula. The Gulf side entrance to the park at Everglades City provides incredible views of bald cypress with their feet delving into the brackish water. Canoe and kayak tours of the immediate area are available. Continuing eastward on the highway that crosses the entire peninsula while remaining in the 1.5-million-acre park, there are pullouts where you can stop and observe the incredible muhly grasslands, marshes, and periodic islands that harbor Florida panthers, white-tailed deer, and the non-venomous eastern indigo snake.
Other entrances that feature unique elements that exist nowhere else but in this park are accessed via this highway. The American alligator and American crocodile coexist in these swamps, maintaining control at the top of the ecological ladder and providing habitat for other marine life in their nests. Living in harmony with the other creatures of the Everglades are bald eagles, cable sable seaside sparrows, and the threatened wood stork.
Congaree National Park
At the small community of Saint George, SC, you can extend your Orlando to Patapsco Valley State Park road trip by turning west and driving 64 miles to visit Congaree National Park. This park is a smaller version of the Everglades, where the slow-moving Congaree River fosters the tallest old-growth hardwood forest remaining in the original 13 colonies. Wildlife abounds in this park, including alligators, turtles, bobcats, wild pigs, turkeys, coyotes, otters, and snakes. In addition, the park provides many hiking trails that take you through the forests via dirt pathways or the swamp by using established boardwalks. While fishing is allowed anywhere in the park that is 25 feet from any construction such as boardwalks, overlooks, or bridges, catch and release techniques are encouraged to preserve the area's natural balance.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
When you reach Fayetteville, NC, you are 531 miles into your road trip from Orlando to Patapsco Valley State Park. Here, you can turn west and drive for 312 miles to Cherokee, NC, where you reach the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The park features a wide variety of flora and fauna, endless ridgelines covered in forests, hiking trails with incredible views, and rushing mountain streams filled with fish. Many RV campgrounds are available in the park, from which visitors venture through the forests to the heights of the ridges and down the slopes into the deep valleys. Fishing is allowed in the park's waterways, many of which are unpublished and full of hungry fish.
Shenandoah National Park
At Fredericksburg, VA, 801 miles into your Orlando to Patapsco Valley State Park road trip, detour 70 miles northeast to enter the Shenandoah National Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the system. The 196,000-acre park features dense forests of pine and cedar, deep valleys carved by rushing streams, and towering peaks reaching higher than 4,000 feet in elevation. The views are impressive, the rivers are full of fish, and the hiking trails wander throughout the park.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Wekiwa Springs State Park is only 17 miles south of Orlando and along the detour to Everglades City. While at the park, jump into the crystal blue spring-fed water that is always at 72 degrees for a refreshing dip. To get the kinks out of your legs, take advantage of the more than 25 miles of hiking trails that wander in and out of the forest.
Table Rock State Park
Before you enter the Blue Ridge Mountains on your way to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, turn west at Greenville, SC, to rest at Table Rock State Park. The park is an excellent introduction to the mountains that you are entering. Pinnacle Mountain, the tallest peak in South Carolina, is within the boundaries of this 3,000-acre park. Take the time to enjoy the site while you are fishing the streams or hiking the trails.
Bear Creek Lake State Park
Bear Creek Lake State Park, only 49 miles west of Richmond, provides 326 acres of wilderness area, including 40-acre Bear Lake. Fishing in the lake is fantastic, either from a boat or from the fishing pier with ADA access. Hikers often take advantage of the trails that run through the park, along the lake's shore, and into Cumberland National Forest. Wildlife runs freely through the park, with sightings of white-tailed deer, bald eagles, and the occasional osprey reported by visitors excited to get close to nature.
When you reach Jacksonville, FL, take the time to visit the Kinsley Plantation on the marshy side of Fort George Island. The plantation and separate slave quarters tell the tale of an era before the Civil War. You can take a self-directed tour or make an appointment with a park ranger to get more information on the events that happened here.
Mountain Farm Museum
Before entering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, stop by the Mountain Farm Museum in Cherokee, NC. The museum includes a collection of houses and outbuildings that existed inside the national park before it was established. The buildings were dismantled and brought here to preserve the lives of those who lived in the area. The collection includes a barn, a spring house, a smokehouse, and an apple house. In addition, interpreters are on hand to describe the agricultural techniques used by the people who lived in the area before it was declared a national park.
While in Richmond, VA, stop by Maymont for something that deals with nature but is in no way natural. Maymont is a beautifully preserved estate and garden constructed during the Gilded Age. Included are the magnificent Maymont mansion, elaborate Japanese and Italian sculpted gardens, a visitor center, and a children's zoo. It stands as an example of a time when people remade nature in landscapes that exuded luxury. A visit here lets you compare these grounds to the natural lands found in the national and state forests.
The points of interest in this city are rich in curiosities like the walk-through head and huge standing Greenleaf/Jacobs clock. Places of historical interest such as the Kingsley Plantation and the Riverside Historic District dot the town. While you are here, take advantage of one of its dump stations. There are plenty of campgrounds nearby if you wish to stay a day or two to take in the sights.
Anytime you pass through Savannah, you must stop to take in the wonderful architecture that is the town's signature. The historic downtown district buildings are considered models of Southern architecture that students study to pass on their influence to further generations. While you are here, take advantage of the numerous dump stations and campgrounds that surround the area.
Richmond is a city rich in culture and history. The area rebuilt itself after the Civil War into one of the most complex towns in the South. Here, you find elegant gardens created from the ashes of a burned city and Civil War monuments alongside Civil Rights memorials. Make sure to visit one of the many dump stations available for your use before registering at one of the campgrounds that the city offers.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Orlando to Patapsco Valley State Park, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Orlando or Patapsco Valley State Park.