Reconnect With Nature at the Merkle Natural Resources Management Area and Visitor Center
Named in honor of local conservationist Edgar Merkle, the Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary and Visitors Center in Upper Marlboro is one of the preeminent nature preserves in the DMV. Spanning almost 2000 acres in Prince Georges County abutting the Patuxent River, and overseen by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the parkland is open to the public year-round during daylight hours. A self-guided driving tour highlights the natural diversity of the landscape, as well as native plants and wildlife. Local runners and hikers appreciate the miles of trails through varied terrain, and anglers enjoy five fishing ponds stocked with bluegill and largemouth bass.
Birdwatchers have spotted 220 species of birds at the preserve, which hosts one of the most important wintering grounds for Canada geese in the US. The Fran Oslislo Visitors Center, which features animal displays as well as exhibits on the history of the bird preserve, is open on weekends from 10 am to 4 pm. Leashed pets are permitted.