At a Glance

Hours: Park is open dawn to dusk, daily. Visitor Center is open Tuesday – Friday 12 pm – 5 pm and Saturday, 9 am – 3 pm.

Cost: Free. A fee/permit is needed for launching a boat; canoes and kayaks can be launched free.

Tips: Bring a scope. ◾ Restrooms are located in the Visitor Center.

Best Seasons: Fall through late spring.

Breeding Bird Atlas Block: Denton SW

Local MOS Chapter: Caroline County Bird Club

Daniel Crouse Memorial Park & Caroline County Visitor Center

Park: 5 Crouse Park Lane, Denton, MD 21629 | (410) 479-2050
Visitor Center: 3 Crouse Park Lane, Denton, MD 21629 | Telephone (410) 479-0825

Daniel Crouse Memorial Park is in a prime location on the east bank of the Choptank River in Denton, next to the bridge that carries MD Route 404 Business over the river. This little park (49 acres), owned by the Town of Denton, offers many advantages for the birder, including easy access from Route 404; excellent views of the waters of the river from the boat launch area; a couple of short foot trails and a boardwalk that offer a view of an extensive marsh on the south side of the bridge; and – not least – restroom facilities in the adjoining Wharves of Choptank Visitor and Heritage Center. The modern visitor center was opened in 2017 and offers visitor information for Caroline County. The Visitor Center is wheelchair accessible.

Nearby, on the opposite side of the river, is the site of an old steamboat landing called Joppa Wharf (or Denton Wharf); there are excellent views of the river and marsh from the wharf, which is open to the public. The Joppa Wharf site includes a replica of the historic main terminal building consisting of a passenger waiting room, steamship agent’s office, and warehouse space for assorted commodities shipped to this busy 19th century port on the upper Choptank River.

Birding at the Daniel Crouse Memorial Park is straightforward:

  • From the boat ramp area and the boardwalk along the Choptank, check the open waters of the river for waterfowl, gulls, and terns in season, and don’t forget to look up for flyovers.
  • Check the marshy area located on the north side of the park, east of the Visitor Center.
  • From the north side of the park, looking upriver (toward the north) and dependent on the state of vegetation, you may be able to get a view of an old railroad turnstile bridge; scope this bridge for perched birds.
  • Walk the short nature trail that takes you under the Denton Bridge to observe the marsh on the south side of the bridge.
  • Check under the bridge for nesting Barn Swallows and other birds.
  • Check the trees along the waterfront and the edges of the park for songbirds, especially during migration.
  • For an additional long view of the marsh south of the bridge, return to your car and travel west over the Denton Bridge to the Joppa Wharf site (see Directions below), and use your scope to view the marsh by looking across the river.

Birdlife:

Over 105 species have been reported on eBird from Daniel Crouse Memorial Park. (Note that there is no eBird hotspot for Joppa Wharf on the other side of the river.)

The riverside location provides a nice assortment of wintering waterfowl, with 18 species reported. Mid-February is a good time to visit to pick up early spring migrant ducks and geese. Canada Goose, Mallard, and Wood Duck have been confirmed breeding in this Atlas block (Denton SW) and so are present during the spring and summer. Pied-billed Grebes also occur here in winter through early spring, and there may be American Coots in spring. Double-crested Cormorants are almost always around.

A modest assortment of shorebirds can be found in the marsh and on exposed mudflats: Killdeer, Dunlin, Wilson’s Snipe, and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.

The regularly-occurring gulls include Laughing from spring through fall and Ring-billed, Herring, and Great Black-backed in winter and spring. This is a good place to look for Lesser Black-backed Gulls, as they are almost regular in spring. A Black-headed Gull was present in February and March of 2011, and these have occurred sporadically over the years at the nearby Denton Wastewater Treatment Plant (not open to the public). Caspian Terns and Forster’s Terns are also regular.

Wading birds include Great Blue Heron (year-round); Great Egret (fall); Green Heron (late summer); and maybe, rarely in fall, a Black-crowned Night-Heron.

Ospreys are abundant and breed locally; Bald Eagles also should be easy to see. Northern Harriers show up, but rarely, in winter; and other hawks and falcons come through during both spring and fall migration, although Red-tailed Hawks breed locally and can be seen almost any time of year.

Belted Kingfishers should be around and are easiest to see in winter and spring. Look for Chimney Swifts overhead during the warm months, when you can also expect swallows: Northern Rough-winged, Purple Martin, Tree, Bank, and Barn.

There are no forested tracts at the park, and so woodland birds are not to be expected. The birds that do occur are able to utilize marshland and scrub-shrub habitat, such as Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, and Great Crested Flycatcher. Blue Jays, American Crows, and Fish Crows are abundant throughout the year.

Both Carolina Wren and House Wren breed locally, as do Gray Catbirds and Northern Mockingbirds. The thrush family is represented by Eastern Bluebirds and American Robins. House Sparrows, House Finches, and American Goldfinches are all abundant.

In the sparrow department, expect Chipping, Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated, Song, and Swamp, and maybe a Savannah, in the winter. Song Sparrow probably breeds in the vicinity.

Baltimore Orioles may be present in summer, and Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and Common Grackles are all common. Yellow-rumped Warblers are the only regularly-occurring warbler. Northern Cardinals are prevalent year-round, and Blue Grosbeaks and Indigo Buntings may be present in summer.

Pet Policy:

Pets on leash are permitted; be prepared to pick up after your pet.

Wheelchair Access:

The Visitor Center is wheelchair-accessible. The large paved parking area at the boat ramp in the park offers a good opportunity to view the water with no obstructions. The actual boat ramp is not wheelchair-accessible.

Special Features:

Canoes and kayaks can be launched for free at the boat ramp in Daniel Crouse Memorial Park, but there is no soft launch: the put-in is at the concrete boat ramp. ◾ The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network and the Maryland Historic Trust have produced a series of water trail maps for the Choptank River and Tuckahoe Creek, available as a free download.  There is also an interactive Water Trails map produced by Choptank River Heritage. ◾ If you want to rent a canoe or kayak, check with Mathews Landing Rentals, conveniently located in West Denton on the other side of the river. They also rent powerboats.

◾ The Wharves of Choptank Visitor and Heritage Center offers a plethora of information on Caroline County. ◾ Both Daniel Crouse Memorial Park and the Joppa Wharf (aka Denton Wharf) on the opposite side of the river, and other places in and around Denton, are sites on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. Download the free driving guide for the Byway.  The Byway also has an accompanying audio tour guide that can be downloaded to a smartphone or shipped to you – for free – as a CD set. The CD set can also be picked up at the Sailwinds Visitor Center in Cambridge.  ◾ To explore more of the history of the Choptank River, see the Choptank River Heritage website and especially its interactive map.

The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Caroline County Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.

Parking:

Large paved lot at Daniel Crouse Memorial Park and smaller paved lot at the Wharves of Choptank Visitor and Heritage Center. Road shoulder gravel parking at the Joppa Wharf.

Directions:

Daniel Crouse Park is located approximately 29 miles east of the Bay Bridge, just off MD Route 404 – Business in the town of Denton, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

From the Bay Bridge: Travel east on US Route 50. At the split for US Route 50 and US Route 301, bear to the right to stay on US Route 50. In approximately 6.9 miles, make a left to go east on MD Route 404. Follow Route 404 approximately 12.0 miles to the town of Denton, where MD Route 404 – Business will split from the main Route 404. Bear right to follow Route 404 – Business/Meeting House Road for 1.3 miles, crossing the Choptank River on the Denton Bridge. At the foot of the east end of the bridge, there will be a three-way split: the road on the left is Gay Street, carrying one-way oncoming traffic; the middle road is Market Street (two-way); and the road to the right is Franklin Street. Take the middle fork, staying straight onto Market Street, but in just 350 feet, make a left onto a short connector that will take you across Gay Street and continue onto what is now Crouse Park Lane, which will take you west into the park, running parallel to the Denton Bridge immediately to the left. Follow Crouse Park Lane a short distance to the parking area for the Visitor Center, which is located on the north side of the park, to the right of the boat ramp. Don’t park in the area reserved for boat trailers.

From points south and east on the Eastern Shore (including Easton and Salisbury): Use US Route 50 north and then turn right (east) onto MD Route 404. Follow Route 404 approximately 12.0 miles to the town of Denton, where MD Route 404 – Business will split from the main Route 404. Bear right to follow Route 404 – Business/Meeting House Road for 1.3 miles, crossing the Choptank River on the Denton Bridge. At the foot of the east end of the bridge, there will be a three-way split: the road on the left is Gay Street, carrying one-way oncoming traffic; the middle road is Market Street (two-way); and the road to the right is Franklin Street. Take the middle fork, staying straight onto Market Street, but in just 350 feet, make a left onto a short connector that will take you across Gay Street and continue onto what is now Crouse Park Lane, which will take you west into the park, running parallel to the Denton Bridge immediately to the left. Follow Crouse Park Lane a short distance to the parking area for the Visitor Center, which is located on the north side of the park, to the right of the boat ramp. Don’t park in the area reserved for boat trailers.

From points north on the Eastern Shore: Take US Route 301 south, then MD Route 213 south; then take US Route 50 south. Turn left (east) on MD Route 404. Follow Route 404 approximately 12.0 miles to the town of Denton, where MD Route 404 – Business will split from the main Route 404. Bear right to follow Route 404 – Business/Meeting House Road for 1.3 miles, crossing the Choptank River on the Denton Bridge. At the foot of the east end of the bridge, there will be a three-way split: the road on the left is Gay Street, carrying one-way oncoming traffic; the middle road is Market Street (two-way); and the road to the right is Franklin Street. Take the middle fork, staying straight onto Market Street, but in just 350 feet, make a left onto a short connector that will take you across Gay Street and continue onto what is now Crouse Park Lane, which will take you west into the park, running parallel to the Denton Bridge immediately to the left. Follow Crouse Park Lane a short distance to the parking area for the Visitor Center, which is located on the north side of the park, to the right of the boat ramp. Don’t park in the area reserved for boat trailers.

  • Joppa Wharf (aka Denton Wharf) is located at 10219 River Landing Rd, Denton, MD 21629, at the foot of Factory Lane on the west bank of the Choptank River. To reach Joppa Wharf by car  from Daniel Crouse Memorial Park: Return to the park entrance and upon exiting the park, turn right onto Gay Street to follow MD Route 404 – Business/Meeting House Road over the Denton Bridge. At the foot of the west end of the bridge, continue straight ahead to the traffic light at the intersection of MD Route 328/River Road and turn right to go north on River Road. In 0.3 miles, make the first right onto River Landing Road, which will loop back south and go under the Denton Bridge. The Joppa Wharf will be on your left in 0.4 miles, the first building after passing under the Denton Bridge. Although there is no sign out front, it is an unmistakable bright orange building with “Maryland Steamboat Company – Denton Wharf” painted on the gable end. Parking is on the gravel road shoulder near the building.
    For the able-bodied, it is actually much shorter to walk from Daniel Crouse Park to Joppa Wharf, using the pedestrian sidewalk that runs along the north edge of the Denton Bridge. At the foot of the west end of the bridge, a paved foot-path will enable you to walk off the bridge onto the end of Bridge Street; turn right onto River Landing Road to walk under the bridge and the Joppa Wharf will be across the street.

Nearby Sites:

Caroline County: Adkins Arboretum ◾ Choptank MarinaIdylwild Wildlife Management Area ◾ Martinak State Park ◾ Skeleton Creek Road & Bethlehem Road ◾ Tuckahoe State Park (Caroline County)

Dorchester County: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge ◾ Cambridge – Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park (Dorchester County Side) ◾ Cambridge – Great Marsh Park ◾ Cambridge – Oakley Street ◾ Cambridge – Sailwinds Park & Visitor Center ◾ Chesapeake Forest – North Tara Road ◾ Elliott Island Road / Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area (Eastern Section)Hooper’s Island ◾ Taylor’s Island

Queen Anne’s County: Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center – Horsehead ◾ Conquest Preserve ◾ Ferry Point Park ◾ Matapeake Clubhouse & Beach / Matapeake Fishing Pier & Boat Ramp ◾ Terrapin Nature Park ◾ Tuckahoe State Park (Queen Anne’s County) ◾ Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area

Talbot County: Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park (Talbot County Side) ◾ Black Walnut Point Natural Resources Management Area ◾ Claiborne LandingMill Creek MOS SanctuaryPickering Creek Audubon Center ◾ Poplar Island

Habitats:

Urban or Small Town Landscape Freshwater Marsh or FloodplainJetties & SeawallsMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Rivers & Streams

Features and Amenities:

BeginnersBoardwalkBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingFree - No Entry FeeHiking/Walking TrailsObservation Platform or TowerParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsVisitor Center, Interpretive Displays, ExhibitsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families

Type:

Chesapeake Bay Gateways NetworkCommunity and Urban ParksHistorical SitesThe Rivers of the Eastern ShoreWater Trails