Know Before You Go

A buoy equipped with solar panels
Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA

For the Best Experience

There are many facets to Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary. Use these handy tips to experience the sanctuary at its best.

  • For optimum viewing of the wrecks, schedule your visit to correspond with low tide.
  • Paddling is recommended between May and September to coincide with favorable weather and water conditions.
  • Check the National Weather Service report before departing.
  • Fishing is permitted within the Potomac River and Mallows Bay (fishing license is required).
  • Due to the size of the water access area at Mallows Bay Park, groups of 10 or more should pre-register their paddle trip. This process helps minimize congestion and conflict in the boat ramp area. To pre-register your group, please contact at least two weeks prior to the requested date.

Water Quality Conditions

A buoy equipped with solar panels
Photo: Kimberly Hernandez/MD DNR

Information related to water conditions is essential to enhancing the visitor experience and safety. In 2018, a partnership between the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and Maryland Department of Natural Resources provided for the purchase and operation of a new water quality buoy adjacent to Mallows Bay. The buoy operates from April through October and reports real-time measurements of water temperature, salinity, oxygen, and other parameters that inform recreational and commercial users of the sanctuary.

Beginning in summer 2020, a new partnership between the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the Potomac Riverkeeper Network will create a citizen science monitoring program at Mallows Bay. The monitoring program will focus on bacterial contamination in the water, which is important to human health.