Thousands beat the heat at Sandy Point State Park to celebrate the Fourth of July. They were the lucky ones who got in early Wednesday morning, before the park reached capacity. Thousands more were turned away and forced to make other holiday plans.
"When you get here at 4 a.m. and there's already people waiting to get in, you know you’re gonna have quite a day," Candy Thomson, the spokesperson for the Maryland Natural Resources Police said.
The park was completely full by 9:30 a.m. with about 10,000 people and traffic was backed up for miles.
"Just chaotic, traffic was unbelievable," Cpl. Chris Neville said. "Water is such a draw for people. They get here early. They know it’s first come first serve. The line was pretty incredible."
"It filled up much faster than we anticipated and there were other parks that filled up very quickly today," Thomson said.
Patapsco Valley, Cunningham Falls and Rocky Gap state parks also had to stop letting people in for hours.
"People naturally are very disappointed. They make their plans all summer for this. If you could see some of the vehicles, they were filled up with coolers, they had grills. A lot of them have driven from VA or the DC area and that's a lot of driving and a lot of effort just to be turned away," Neville said.
They were telling folks to check back in later to see if the park would reopen. All 4 reopened mid-afternoon to traffic.
"We love our parks and obviously the people of Maryland and our visitors love our parks," Thomson said.
Police expect all of the waterfront parks across the state to fill up fast the rest of the week. If that's in your plans, they recommend getting in line early and arriving with the whole group so you don't get separated.