Two young people canoeing on the water. Photo by CBF Staff.The best way to learn about the Bay and its rivers is to get out on them. Photo by CBF Staff.

Resources to Help You Explore the Bay

"In the end, we will conserve only what we love,
we will love only what we understand..."

–Baba Dioum

Resources to Explore the Bay

There are dozens of ways to explore the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers. From mobile apps to websites to maps, here's our selection of resources to help you explore the Bay and its tributaries, paddle historic water trails, plan an excursion through history across the watershed, and even find healthy beaches

Exploring the Bay and Its Tributaries

Chesapeake Explorer mobile app screen
Chesapeake Explorer App

The National Park Service's Chesapeake Explorer mobile app helps users find and visit attractions across the Bay watershed, including parks, trails, camp grounds, museums, and historic sites. The ever-expanding app includes up-to-date visitor information, such as hours, locations, and fees. The app is available for iPhone and Android. Find out more at

Bay Program interactive public access online map.
Online Chesapeake Bay, Susquehanna River & Tidal Tributaries Access Guide

In 2012, 18 new public access sites opened up across the region. The Chesapeake Bay Program's online Public Access Guide provides information on over 500 major public access sites in the Bay region. Users can find sites offering opportunities for boating, fishing, wildlife observation, and beach use. Search for public access point by address, city, or zip code. Check it out at

Water Trails

Logo: Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail
Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail

Four hundred years ago Englishman John Smith set off with a small crew in an open boat to explore the Chesapeake Bay. Between 1607 and 1609 Smith mapped and documented nearly 3,000 of the Bay and its rivers. The trail, which follows his travels, was officially launched on May 12, 2007 and was the first national historic watertrail established by Congress. Visit the National Park Service's trail website at for information, resources, and maps.

Cover: A Boaters Guide to the Capt. John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail
A Boater's Guide to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail

This guide is a joint project of the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office, the Chesapeake Conservancy, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and is written by CBF Senior Naturalist and Chesapeake boater extraordinaire, John Page Williams. It introduces paddlers and boaters to the best places to access the trail along with other practical information for boaters within the historical context of Captain John Smith's explorations 400 years ago. Download the guide (PDF, 102 pgs)

Boaters Guide to the John Smith Trail Mobile App
Mobile app & website

Released by The Chesapeake Conservancy on the 10 year anniversary of the Trail, the app uses storymap technology from Esri to create an interactive series of maps that help users plan trips along the Trail from their computer, smartphone, or tablet. Find it at 

Logo: NOAA Chesapeake Bay Program
Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System

This network of observation buoys mark points along the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Just pull out your cell phone and check real-time weather and environmental information like wind speed, temperature, and wave height at any buoy location. These "smart buoys" can also tell you something about John Smith's adventures during his 1608 voyage. Enjoy exploring the Bay with the help of the Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS) at, by phone at 877-BUOY-BAY (toll-free), or via smartphone apps for Android and iPhone.

Logo: Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail
Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail

America's second national historic watertrail, the Star-Spangled Banner trail tells the story of the Chesapeake Bay region's involvement in the War of 1812 and tells the stories of the events, people, and places that led to the birth of our National Anthem. Find out more at

Find more water trails and paddling opportunities throughout the Chesapeake Bay region—from New York to Virginia—at

Explore the Region

National Park Service's Chesapeake Explorer
Chesapeake Explorer

Your guide to exploring the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers, from water trails to waterfowl. Learn about more than 160 parks, wildlife refuges, museums, sailing ships, historic communities, trails, and more. This is a great place to start planning your excursion. Visit the website at

National Wildlife Refuges-Chesapeake Bay app
National Wildlife Refuges: Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Conservancy worked with the National Geographic Society, with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to create this app (currently available via iTunes, Android version to come) incorporating the popular Project Noah wildlife photo-sharing service. Using the app, visitors to national wildlife refuges in the Chesapeake region can take photos and share them with a worldwide community of wildlife enthusiasts and experts. The app also includes information on refuge locations, maps, hours, and more. Find out more at

Safe Swimming

Google Earth Beach Notification System
Maryland Healthy Beaches Google™ Earth Beach Notification System

Get updates, advisories, and closing information on every beach in Maryland, using the free Google™ Earth application. Go to for easy instructions, and to download the current update file and Google Earth application.

Waterkeeper Swim Guide - example of Beach Map
Waterkeeper Swim Guide

Identify at a glance which beaches are clean for swimming and which have water quality problems, help protect your waterway by reporting pollution or environmental concerns, and more. Check it out online or get the app (available for Apple and Android).

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