After years of backpacking, ultra-lite camping, and cramming into a tiny pod tent, we finally decided to buy a new tent for our upcoming car camping trips. We felt we had pretty much earned the right to a massive three-room tent with a screen room/”front porch,” complete with a real door (like one that opens on a hinge). We call it our “tent-home” and it’s easily the largest tent we’ve seen at any campsite ever. It’s pretty amazing.
(For anyone that cares, it’s a Coleman Weathermaster 10 bought from Costco for $150)Greenbelt park is nationally owned/run. The weirdest part about it is that it’s pretty much nestled in a very urban setting — it’s really close to the metro and about 12 miles away from downtown DC. We chose to camp here for a couple of reasons: 1. It was close and we didn’t want to be stuck in Memorial Day Weekend traffic and 2. We wanted to give our tent a test run, and in the event that it sucked, have the option of going back home.It took us a really long time in the blazing hot sun to figure out how to set up and waterproof our tent for the first time. In the first five minutes of stepping foot in the park, I was bombarded with ticks, which pretty much gave me the heebie jeebies the entire rest of the trip even though I doused myself in bug spray.
There really wasn’t a ton to do in the park. We mostly sat in our screen room to get away from the bugs and read until the heat made us too drowsy to keep our eyes open. Sly became extremely frustrated when he tried to build a fire with the wet wood found on site to cook hot dogs that night. After about an hour of trying, I added a bunch of dead leaves to the fire. Luckily, that seemed to do the trick.
On the second day, we hiked the perimeter trail, saw a deer, swatted away zillions of bugs and ticks, made flower bracelets and cooked a lot. We kind of grew tired sitting around in our hot tent, so Sly had the brilliant idea of going back home just for a little bit to check up on our kitties. I agreed. By the time we returned to our site, a storm had rolled through camp. It rained for the most part of the night. Our tent passed the rain test.
Around midnight we heard a really big commotion in the campsite directly next to ours. A group of about 10 drunk guys decided to have a party that night and were making tons of noise, singing, yelling, and clapping as they set up camp. We hoped that it would die down once they built their bonfire and set up their tents, but after enduring another hour of them singing, we called the park cops. We were *those people*. The cops came and gave them a warning, and for a while they were a little quieter.
Several hours later, we awoke to the sound of them drunk-singing again. We waited for them to quiet down, hoping it was just one song, but it continued for another 30 minutes. At this point, it was around 3am. We called the park police again, and this time they asked all the campers for IDs and informed them that there was a no alcohol park policy (which is clearly stated on the camp reservation/confirmation). Several of the drunkies were underage, and were cuffed and carted off. The remaining drunks were told to pack up their camp and leave the park. Ooops.
It was way past the 10pm park quiet time, and these guys weren’t just kind of loud, they were singing-at-the-top-of-their-lungs-loud…for hours. The first time we felt bad, but the second time, not so much. Our final day at camp, we cooked out again, stuffing ourselves with bbq chicken and hamburgers (yes, both). We always enjoy camping, but I think we were both a little bit relieved to be escaping the heat and bugs.
Greenbelt Park, MD
Cost: Campsites $16
Tips: Loop C is the quietest and probably the best for tent camping, Loop D has larger sites for campers/trailers and is a bit more crowded/nosier, Loop B is closest to the entrance with pretty cramped sites. Most sites can easily fit two tents.
Perimeter Trail – approximately 5mi. not including diversions to other connecting trails. Trail crosses several small streams and is pretty flat and easy, great for trail running.
- Bring some kind of bug deterrent – lots of bugs and ticks
- Drinking is not allowed on park premises
- There are no showers, but flush toilets are available. Water is available at each loop, but is not each site
- If you forget anything, or just want some Starbucks, there’s a shopping center about 5 minutes away. Just go out of the park, turn right and follow the road for about two stop lights. Center is on the right. Can’t miss.
- Lots of paved, moderately hilly roads – great for cycling.