Firearms in National Parks
The law governing possession of firearms inside a national park changed on February 22, 2010.
In areas administered by the National Park Service, an individual can possess a firearm if that individual is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the firearm and if the possession of the firearm complies with the laws of the state where the park area is located. 54 U.S.C. 104906.
It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable Federal, state and local firearms laws and regulations, including laws authorizing or prohibiting concealed carry, before entering a national park.
Unless expressly authorized, Federal law prohibits the possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon in National Park Service facilities. These buildings include, but are not limited to, government offices, visitor centers, ranger stations, fee collection buildings, and maintenance facilities. 18 U.S.C. 930.
Additional information on firearms in national parks is available at www.nps.gov.
Here you will find the 2021 Superintendent’s Compendium Of Designations, Closures, Permit Requirements and Other Restrictions Imposed Under Discretionary Authority. Approved by David Moore, Superintendent of Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.
Addendums to the Superintendent's Compendium
In accordance with regulations and the delegated authority provided in Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations (“36 CFR”), Chapter 1, Parts 1-7, authorized by Title 16 United States Code, Section 3, the following provisions apply to all lands and waters administered by the National Park Service, within the boundaries of Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Unless otherwise stated, these regulatory provisions apply in addition to the requirements contained in 36 CFR, Chapter 1, Parts 1-7.
Written determinations, which explain the reasoning behind the Superintendent’s use of discretionary authority, as required by Section 1.5(c), appear in this document, identified by italicized print.
36 CFR §1.5 — VISITING HOURS, PUBLIC USE LIMITS. CLOSURES. AND AREA DESIGNATIONS FOR SPECIFIC USE OR ACTIVITIES
(a)(1) The following visiting hours, public use limits, and closures are established:
The above visiting hours are based upon a determination that such hours are necessary for the maintenance of public health and safety, the protection of natural and cultural resources, and the implementation of management responsibilities.
- The park, or a portion of the park, may be closed at any time for emergency or security reasons in order to protect the welfare of staff and visitors.
- Entering or remaining in the park outside of posted hours is prohibited.
- The park is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. daily during the winter season and from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. during the summer season. The extended summer season hours will start the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and go through Labor Day. These dates will be posted on the park website, main gate, and park events brochure.
- The park will be closed to the public on Thanksgiving Day (4th Thurs in Nov), Christmas Day (Dec 25), and New Year's Day (Jan 1).
Public Use Limits:
- The maximum speed for bicycles, e-bikes, scooters and authorized vehicles on the Seawall Trail is 10 mph.
- To provide for public safety all persons and vehicles entering the park are subject to search for explosive or terrorist devices and illegal weapons.
- Competitive events are only permitted under a permit issued by the Superintendent in accordance with §2.50(a).
The above public use limits are based upon a determination that such limits are necessary for the maintenance of public health and safety and the protection of natural and cultural resources.
- The seawall is closed to all entry into or exit from the park. Standing on, sitting on, boat docking, fishing from, launching watercraft, crabbing, swimming or beachcombing from the seawall is prohibited.
- All administrative roads are closed to motorized vehicles unless their operators have received appropriate authority from the Superintendent or his/her representative. This includes mopeds operating under power of a motor. Handicapped visitors are authorized to use motorized wheelchairs or segways in this area.
- Employee residences located at Fort McHenry NM&HS are closed to public access.
- Maintenance facilities and areas are closed to public access.
- Parking areas are closed to all buses other than those arriving loaded, with Fort McHenry NM&HS as a destination for their occupants.
- Parking areas are closed to all vehicles whose passengers leave the grounds for more than one hour.
- The Visitor Center, Star Fort, and grounds may be closed to entry by the general public carrying backpacks, daypacks, large handbags, packages, coolers, or other large containers. These items are subject to search and inspection for weapons or items hazardous to visitors or staff. These provisions addresses terrorist concerns following the attacks of September 11, 2001 and recent terrorist activity.
- Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine is prohibited, except as approved in writing by the superintendent.
- The use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (VAPES, E-cigs, etc) is prohibited anywhere smoking is prohibited within the park (Buildings, Historic Zone, within 25 ft of any doorway)
- The park is closed to the following activities:
- Skating (including inline skating)
- Motorized scooters
- Rock climbing
- Launching, landing or operating all unmanned aircraft
- Volleyball, badminton, and other net games
- Golf practice
- Lawn darts
- Winter Activities including sledding, skiing, snow boarding
- Organized games or team sports such as baseball, football, soccer, or variations of such games using Frisbees or similar devices
- Recreational type activities that involve leaving property behind or affixing items to park property for other visitors to discover. Ex- Geo-caches, letterboxing, munzee barcodes, etc. See also 36 CFR §2.22
- Other games or activities that damage park resources or present public safety hazards
- Competitive events are only permitted under a permit issued by the Superintendent in accordance with §2.50(a)
The above closures are based upon a determination that such closures are necessary for the maintenance of public health and safety, the protection of environmental values, the protection of natural and cultural resources, the implementation of management responsibilities, the equitable allocation and use of facilities and the avoidance of conflict among visitor use activities.
(a)(2) The following areas are designated for a specific use or activity and/or the following conditions or restrictions are imposed on a specific use or activity:
- For purposes of regulation of activities within the Historic Zone as indicated on the attached map, the historic zone will be defined as the following: "The area within the split rail fence encompassing the Star Fort." Within the Historic Zone, the following activities are prohibited:
- Recreational Activities
- Bicycling and scooters
- Kite flying is restricted to the West Lawn as indicated on the attached map. Kite flyers and kites must remain in this area. Kites may not be tied to any cultural resource, natural resource, or any other object or left unattended. Kites must be under the physical control of the operator at all times.
- Ball throwing, Frisbee throwing, ball kicking and other similar activities are restricted to the West Lawn as indicated on the attached map. No nets, teams, bases, or goals are allowed to be in use while engaged in these activities.
- Bicycles/e-bikes and non-motorized scooters are only permitted in the designated areas listed under 36 CFR §2.20 and prohibited within the historic zone as designated on the attached map.
- Motor vehicles must shut down their engines when not underway. This condition is adopted from Maryland State Vehicle Code § 21-1101 -- Unattended motor vehicle.
The following types of filming activities may occur in areas open to the public without a permit and without advance notice to the NPS:
• Outdoor filming activities involving five persons or less and equipment that will be carried at all times, except for small tripods used to hold cameras.
The organizer of any other type of filming activity must provide written notice to the Superintendent at least 10 days prior to the start of the proposed activity. Based upon the information provided, the Superintendent may require the organizer to apply for and obtain a permit if necessary, to:
• maintain public health and safety;
• protect environmental or scenic values;
• protect natural or cultural resources;
• allow for equitable allocation and use of facilities; or
• avoid conflict among visitor use activities.
If the Superintendent determines that the terms and conditions of a permit could not mitigate the concerns identified above in an acceptable manner, the Superintendent may deny a filming request without issuing a permit. The Superintendent will provide the basis for denial in writing upon request.
The NPS will consider requests and process permit applications in a timely manner. Processing times will vary depending on the complexity of the proposed activity. If the organizer provides the required 10 day advance notice to the NPS and has not received a written response from the NPS that a permit is required prior to the first day of production, the proposed filming activities may occur without a permit.
The following are prohibited:
(1) Engaging in a filming activity without providing advance notice to the Superintendent when required.
(2) Engaging in a filming activity without a permit if [the activity takes place in areas managed as wilderness or if] the Superintendent has notified the organizer in writing that a permit is required.
(3) Violating a term and condition of a permit issued under this action.
Violating a term or condition of a permit issued under to this action may also result in the suspension and revocation of the permit by the Superintendent.
The above designations are based upon a determination that such conditions are necessary for the maintenance of public health and safety, protection of environmental values, protection of natural or cultural resources and the equitable allocation and use of facilities.
Mask Wearing Requirements:
Individuals over the age of two years must wear masks, except when actively eating or drinking, in the following locations:
1. All common areas and shared workspaces in buildings owned, rented or leased by the National Park Service, including, but not limited to, park visitor centers, administrative offices, lodges, gift shops and restaurants.
2. The following outdoor areas, when others are present, where the superintendent has determined that physical distancing (staying at least six feet apart) cannot reasonably be maintained:
Masks must cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face. Masks not designed to be protective, masks with ventilation valves, and face shields do not meet the requirement.
- Historic Area - Sally Port, restrooms, and exhibit rooms within the fort (open to the public)
- Visitor Center - when entering the VC to use the restroom
(a)(3) The following restrictions, limits, closures, designations, conditions, or visiting hour restrictions imposed under §§(a)(1) or (2) have been terminated:
- Regardless of vaccination status, all individuals must comply with all orders regarding masks issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- CDC prevention measures continue to apply to all travelers on public transit, regardless of vaccination status. Masks remain required on all forms of public transit that operate within parks, including busses, trains, and boats/ferries, and in transportation hubs
- Park staff should not ask visitors whether or not they have been vaccinated. Absent evidence to the contrary, park staff should operate as though non-masked visitors are fully vaccinated.
36 CFR §1.6 — ACTIVITIES THAT REQUIRE A PERMIT
Activities requiring a permit are listed above under Public Use Limits and throughout this document under the specific 36 CFR Section that authorizes or requires the issuance of a permit.
Applications for Special Use permits can be obtained by contacting the Permit Office:
Fort McHenry NM&HS
c/o: Permit Office
2400 East Fort Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21230
36 CFR §2.1 — PRESERVATION OF NATURAL, CULTURAL AND ARCHEOLOGICAL RESOURCES
(a)(4) Using or possessing wood gathered from within the park area is prohibited.
(a)(5) Walking on, climbing, entering, ascending, descending, or traversing an archaeological or cultural resource, monument, or statue is prohibited except in designated areas.
(a)(7) Possessing or using a mineral or metal detector, magnetometer, side scan sonar, other metal detecting device, or sub-bottom profiler is prohibited.
Under §2.1(a), collecting natural materials from the park is generally prohibited. However, pursuant to §2.1(c), the following fruits, nuts, berries or unoccupied seashells may be gathered by hand for personal use or consumption, in accordance with the noted size, quantity, collection sites and/or possession and consumption restrictions:
36 CFR §2.2 - WILDLIFE PROTECTION
- Crab apples, acorns, and pinecones may be gathered by hand from the ground for personal consumption. One peck per person per day may be gathered. Leaves and pinecones may be collected from the ground for educational purposes. Tree climbing is prohibited.
(a)(1) The taking of wildlife is prohibited.
(b) Hunting and trapping is prohibited.
(d) Transporting wildlife through the park is prohibited
36 CFR §2.3 — FISHING
(a) Fishing is not allowed within the boundaries of the park.
36 CFR §2.4 — WEAPONS, TRAPS, AND NETS
Pursuant to 18 USC § 930, firearms are prohibited in federal facilities. Federal facilities are marked with signs at public entrances.
Pursuant to 54 USC 104906, park visitors may carry firearms in the Park if they are otherwise in compliance with federal, state, and local laws.
Traps and nets are prohibited except as permitted by the Superintendent or his/her designee.
36 CFR §2.5 — RESEARCH SPECIMENS
Taking plants, fish, wildlife, rocks or minerals is prohibited except in accordance with 36 CFR chapter 1 or the terms and conditions of a specimen collection permit pursuant to § 2.5(a).
36 CFR §2.10 — CAMPING and FOOD STORAGE
(a) Camping is not allowed within the boundaries of the park.
36 CFR §2.11 — PICNICKING
As listed in 36 CFR § 1.5 of this document, picnicking is prohibited within the Historic Zone (designated on the attached map) of the park.
36 CFR §2.12 — AUDIO DISTURBANCES
Under § 2.12 (a) the following are prohibited:
36 CFR §2.13 — FIRES
- Operating motorized equipment, machinery, audio device, or musical instrument in a manner that makes unreasonable noise. Idling bus engines when parked is prohibited.
- Operating a power saw in developed areas is prohibited, except pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit.
- Operating any type of portable motor or engine, or device powered by a portable motor or engine in non-developed areas is prohibited, except pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit.
- Operating a public address system is prohibited, except in connection with a public gathering or special event for which a permit has been issued pursuant to §§ 2.50 or 2.51.
(a)(1) The lighting or maintaining of fires is prohibited, except when authorized by the Superintendent.
(a)(2) The use of stoves or lanterns is prohibited, except when authorized by the Superintendent.
36 CFR §2.14 — SANITATION and REFUSE
(a)(2) Using park refuse receptacles or facilities for dumping household, commercial or industrial refuse is prohibited.
(b) Conditions for the disposal, containerization, or carryout of human body waste have been established as follows:
36 CFR §2.15 — PETS
- All waste must be disposed of in designated human waste facilities.
(a)(1) Possessing pets in public buildings, public transportation vehicles, swimming beaches, and the following structures and/or areas is prohibited.
(a)(3) Leaving a pet unattended and tied to an object is prohibited
- Pets are not permitted in the Historic Zone. Pets may be walked in other parts of the park, including the Seawall Trail, but must be kept on a leash not to exceed six feet in length.
- This restriction does not apply to service animals. The NPS will use the same definition of service animal currently found in DOJ regulations 28 CFR 36.104 and will not rely on 36 CFR 2.15. Service animals will be allowed wherever visitors or employees are allowed when accompanying a person with a disability.
(a)(5) Pet excrement must be disposed of in accordance with the following conditions:
- Owners/handlers shall place pet excrement in an appropriate refuse container (b) The use of dogs in support of hunting is not allowed within the park.
(e) Pets may be kept by park residents under the following conditions:
36 CFR §2.16 — HORSES and PACK ANIMALS
- Pets may be kept by residents of government quarters in accordance with park pet policy
(b) The use of horses or pack animals is prohibited except with written permission from the Superintendent. No trails, routes, or areas are designated for their use.
36 CFR §2.17 — AIRCRAFT and AIR DELIVERY
(c)(1) The removal of a downed aircraft, components, or parts thereof is subject to procedures established by the Superintendent through written authorization.
36 CFR §2.18 — SNOWMOBILES
(c) The use of snowmobiles is prohibited.
36 CFR §2.19 — WINTER ACTIVITIES
(a) Skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, sledding, innertubing, tobogganing, and similar winter sports are prohibited on park roads and in parking areas open to motor vehicle traffic.
36 CFR §2.20 — SKATING, SKATEBOARDS and SIMILAR DEVICES
(b) The towing of persons on skis, sleds, or other sliding devices by motor vehicle or snowmobile is prohibited.
Using roller skates, skateboards, roller skis, coasting vehicles, or similar devices is prohibited. Non-motorized scooters are permitted on administrative roads, sidewalks and or gravel areas except as noted under closed areas. Limitations are necessary for visitor safety along roadways and to avoid conflicts with other park users.
(A) Non-motorized Scooter use is permitted on the following administrative roads:
- As listed under 36 CFR § 1.5(a)(2) of this document, non-motorized scooters are prohibited in the Historic Zone.
36 CFR §2.21 — SMOKING
- Seawall Trail
- Orpheus Trail
(a) The following portions of the park, or all or portions of buildings, structures or facilities are closed to smoking as noted:
- Smoking is prohibited within of all park buildings, including in the Star Fort buildings. Permanent employee residences are excluded.
- Smoking is prohibited immediately adjacent of any park building doors.
These restrictions are consistent with federal law and have been determined to protect park resources, reduce the risk of fire, and prevent conflicts among visitor use activities.
36 CFR §2.22 — PROPERTY
(a)(2) Leaving property unattended for longer than 24 hours is prohibited, except with the permission of the Superintendent.
36 CFR §2.23 — RECREATION FEES
(b) Recreation fees, and/or a permit, in accordance with 36 CFR part 71, are established for the following entrance fee areas, and/or for the use of the following specialized sites, facilities, equipment or services, or for participation in the following group activity, recreation events or specialized recreation uses:
Entrance Fee Areas:
- The 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) is the authority under which a recreation fee is authorized to be charged to enter the historic area of Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.
- Visitors pass through a Visitor Center where each visitor is screened individually to determine their category for entrance fee purposes.
- Adult Daily Fee (16 years of age and older) - $15.00 — (Seven-day pass)
- Children (15 years of age and younger) — free
- Senior Pass — Lifetime - (62 years of age+) - $80.00
- Senior Pass --- Annual – (62 years of age +) - $20.00
- Access Pass — Lifetime — free
- Federal Recreation Lands Annual Pass - $80.00
- Fort McHenry Annual Pass - $45.00
- Annual Pass — Active Duty Military — free. This pass provides free entrance to all national parks for active-duty members of the U.S military and their dependents.
- Entrance fees may be paid for and passes may be purchased using cash, personal check, commercial check, traveler's check, credit card, or voucher.
- Groups from recognized educational institutions whose visit is educational in purpose and related to its curriculum may be granted a waiver from the entrance fee. Such groups must go through an approved application process in advance of the visit to be granted a waiver.
- No entrance fee is charged to any visitor on National Public Lands Day, which is usually the last Saturday in September.
- No entrance fee is charged to United States Veterans, members of the Armed Forces, or their families on Veterans' Day, November 11.
Daily Site Use Fee Areas:
Special Recreation Permit Fee (Such as but not limited to, group activities, recreation events, and the use of motorized recreation vehicles):
- Fort McHenry has no daily use fees apart from those which fall under the Special Use Permit
36 CFR §2.35 —ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES and CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES
- Special Use Permit Application Fee - $100
- Land use for parades, rallies, ceremonies, celebrations, pageants, and weddings.
(a)(3)(i) The following public use areas, portions of public use areas, and/or public facilities within the park are closed to consumption of alcoholic beverages, and/or to the possession of a bottle, can or other receptacle containing an alcoholic beverage that is open, or has been opened, or whose seal has been broken or the contents of which have been partially removed:
This closure is implemented following the determination that the consumption and possession of alcohol in the Historic Zone would be inappropriate considering other uses of the location and the purpose for which it is maintained and was established.
- The Historic Zone as designated on the attached map
36 CFR §2.37 — NONCOMMERCIAL SOLICITING
Soliciting or demanding gifts, money, goods or services is prohibited except pursuant to the terms and conditions or a permit that has been issued under §2.50, §2.51, or §2.52.
36 CFR §2.38 — EXPLOSIVES
(b) Fireworks, firecrackers, and sparklers may be possessed and/or used in the following areas, under the conditions noted:
36 CFR §2.50 — SPECIAL EVENTS
- Using, possessing, storing, or transporting explosives, blasting agents or explosive materials is prohibited, except pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit. When permitted, the use, possession, storage and transportation shall be in accordance with applicable Federal, state, and local laws.
(a) Sports events, pageants, regattas, public spectator attractions, entertainments, ceremonies, and similar events are allowed, provided there is a meaningful association between the park area and the events, and the observance contributes to visitor understanding of the significance of the park area, and a permit therefor has been issued by the Superintendent.
36 CFR §2.51 -- DEMONSTRATIONS
(b) Demonstrations of more than 25 people are allowed within designated park areas when the Superintendent has issued a permit for the activity.
(c)(2) The following locations are designated as available for demonstrations:
36 CFR §2.52 — SALE OF DISTRIBUTION OF PRINTED MATTER
- The area of West Lawn, as indicated on the attached map. This area is in prominent view of the visiting public and will not interfere with public access to the park.
- The area of the East Lawn adjacent to the Star Fort Trail, as indicated on the attached map. This area is in prominent view of the visiting public and will not interfere with public access to the park.
(c) The sale or distribution of printed matter by 25 people or less is allowed within the park areas designated as available under §2.51(c)(2) (see above). The sale or distribution of printed matter by more than 25 persons is allowed within designated park areas when the Superintendent has issued a permit.
36 CFR §2.61 — RESIDING ON FEDERAL LANDS
- These activities are allowed in the West Field and the area east of the Visitor Center, as indicated on the attached map.
36 CFR §2.62 — MEMORIALIZATION
- Residing in park areas, other than on privately owned lands, is prohibited except pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit lease or contract.
36 CFR 0.3 — VESSEL PERMITS
- The scattering of human ashes from cremation is prohibited at Fort McHenry NM&HS, except pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit issued by the Superintendent.
No access to the park via water vessel is allowed except pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit.
36 CFR 0.21 — SWIMMING AND BATHING
(a)(2) No access to the water for swimming, bathing, or other aquatic recreation is allowed from the park.
36 CFR §4.2 — STATE LAW APPLICABLE
- Unless specifically addressed by regulations in this chapter, traffic and the use of vehicles within a park area are governed by State law. State law that is now or may later be in effect is adopted and made a part of the regulations in this part.
- Violating a provision of State law is prohibited.
36 CFR §4.21 — SPEED LIMITS
(b) The following speed limits are established for the routes/roads indicated
36 CFR §4.30 — BICYCLES
- Main Road — 15mph
- Seawall Trail — 10mph
(a) The use of a bicycle/e-bikes is permitted on park roads and in parking areas that are otherwise open for motor vehicle use by the general public.
(b) Bicycle/e-bike use is permitted on the following administrative roads:
- As listed under 36 CFR § 1.5(a)(2) of this document, bicycles are prohibited in the Historic Zone.
(d)(3) Riding a bicycle/e-bike abreast of another rider is not allowed in the park.
- Seawall Trail
- Orpheus Trail
36 CFR §4.31 — HITCHHIKING
Hitchhiking or soliciting transportation is prohibited.
36 CFR q5.1 - ADVERTISEMENTS
Commercial notices or advertisements shall not be displayed, posted, or distributed on federally owned or controlled lands within a park area unless prior written permission has been given by the Superintendent.
36 CFR §5.3 — BUSINESS OPERATIONS
Engaging in or soliciting any business in park areas requires a permit, contract or other written agreement with the United States, or must be specifically authorized under special regulations.
36 CFR §5.5 - PHOTOGRAPHY/FILMING
(a) Before any motion picture, television production, or sound track may be made within the park by any person other than bona fide newsreel or news television personnel, written permission must first be obtained from the Superintendent.
(b) Taking photographs of vehicles, models, or other articles of commerce for the purpose of commercial advertising requires a written permit from the Superintendent.
36 CFR §5.6 - COMMERCIAL VEHICLES
(b) & (c) Using commercial vehicles on government roads within park areas when such use is in no way connected with the operation of the park is generally prohibited, and requires permission or a permit issued by the Superintendent.
36 CFR §5.7 — CONSTRUCTION OF BUILDINGS OR OTHER FACILITIES
Such activities, including the use of tents, canopies, and other ground penetration, are prohibited, except in accordance with the provisions of a valid permit, contract, or other written agreement with the United States.
CCTV Use Policy
The National Park Service's use of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) for law enforcement and security purposes will only be to visually monitor public park areas and public activities where no constitutionally protected reasonable expectation of privacy exists. Such CCTV use - which will have adequate privacy and First Amendment safeguards — will be to help ensure public safety and security; facilitate the detection, investigation, prevention and deterrence of terrorist attack and crime; help ensure the safety of citizens and officers; help assist in the proper allocation and deployment of law enforcement and public safety resources; help facilitate the protection of the innocent and the apprehension and prosecution of criminals.
This policy does not restrict the official use of CCTV in government administrative areas including administrative buildings, jail holding facilities, revenue collection sites, etc, where the government may record/monitor its facilities. For example, the government may perform unrestricted video/audio recording at revenue collection points (entrance stations, visitor center counters, etc). This policy does not restrict the use of Mobile AudioNideo Recording Equipment (MVRE) in patrol vehicles driven by commissioned law enforcement rangers; that use is addressed in other policy documents, RM-9, Chapter 26, Section 1.