Maryland : Safety by City
- Ellicott City
- Germantown & Gaithersburg
- Ocean City
- Silver Spring
Thurmont, Maryland, is the gateway to Catoctin Mountain in Western Maryland.
It’s a region so relaxing that even the Presidential Retreat, Camp David, is in this region.
(No you can’t go there, let’s just nip that one in the bud.)
This small town of 6200 people is charming, quaint, and safe.
It’s also just 30 minutes from the larger city of Hagerstown to the west and Baltimore is less than 90 minutes east.
You might be reading this article to get information about Catoctin Colorfest, a massive arts & crafts fair that brings 125,000 people to visit.
Book your hotel, campsite, or rental home fast because this whole region quickly sells out.
The main street exudes historic charm and friendliness, while the Blue Ridge Mountains nearby beckon adventurers with the wilderness and historic elements that await.
You can absolutely go chasing waterfalls at Cunningham Falls State Park, and you’re also just 10 minutes from the Pennsylvania state line with a whole different state to explore.
One pronunciation note you for – Catoctin is “Cuh-TOCK-tin.”
It rhymes with “I’m blocked in near Catoctin.”
That’s one thing about Maryland; many words are not pronounced how they look.
Warnings & Dangers in Thurmont
OVERALL RISK: LOW
This is a low-risk town. The city has less than 10 violent crimes per year dating back to 2011, aside from 2019 when there were 19 violent crimes.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You will need a vehicle of your own here, which you'll need to rent in a bigger city because there are just U-Haul locations in Thurmont. Fiesta Taxi is a local taxi company and there are shuttles for rent to get to and from the Chesapeake Bay area in the eastern section of the state.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk here but an elevated risk during Colorfest just because of the large, dense crowds. You'll need to pay special attention to any equipment or items you leave in your car, especially while exploring the mountains. Don't leave items unattended and out in the open at campsites either. (We'll talk about bear safety, too, a little later on.)
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
You can get some wicked winter weather here, so winter travelers should review the safety protocol from Frederick County. Spring and summer can bring severe thunderstorms and the occasional tornado. Flooding is a risk as well, but not as high as in other cities closer to the bay.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
This is a very low risk, but you should never let your guard down. The few robberies reported here in 2022 were bank robberies.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
This is a low risk, but there is special caution (and a slew of security) around Camp David. We'll talk about respecting those boundaries on Catoctin Mountain, but the only potential target would be Camp David.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Check out the frauds and scams section of the Frederick County website to see the most common scams, but they are all ones that happen nationwide. The only caution I'll give you is the trend of rental scams. This is when a scammer posts a fake listing online, generally for an insanely low deal, and requires payment upfront. The traveler arrives to find out the home either doesn't exist or is owned by someone else. Lower this risk by avoiding Craigslist for scams and look for Superhosts on home sharing websites like Airbnb.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
As long as women are "outdoorsy," they will love everything about this area. There are antique shops and great restaurants in a safe community. You face some risks in the wilderness we'll discuss in this article, but don't go into the woods without knowing basic outdoor survival skills.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and no violations. If you want to learn more about the requirements of tap water in America, call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.
Safest Places to Visit in Thurmont
There are a few websites to explore to learn about things to do in Thurmont, but there isn’t one main tourism website.
- Thurmont Main Street: thurmontmainstreet.com
- Frederick County (includes Thurmont): VisitFrederick.com
- Check the attractions section of the city website, thurmont.com
It’s not hard to find Main Street as it’s the only major east/west road in the city.
Start at Main Street and Church Street to visit the historical society and get a list of locations on the National Register of Historic Places.
You’ll feel like you’re walking through a Hallmark Movie in this quaint district.
Catoctin Wildlife Preserve is right on the edge of the mountains, covering 50 acres.
You can take safari rides or visit the petting zoo.
Animals from all over the world are here, and there’s even an alligator pit and giant reptile building.
Cunningham Falls State Park has a section right across from the zoo, known as the Manor Area.
The park is split into two sections, the other being the William Houck Area.
The Manor Area is where you can take a *Scales and Tales Aviary tour, or visit “The Village” that is home to the historic Catoctin Furnace and several other historic locations.
The William Houck Area is more remote and wild, with Camp Misty Mount Historic District offering campgrounds and cabins.
**Due to the bird flu in late 2022, aviary tours are on hold.
Once the flu is under control, the tours will resume.
Catoctin Mountain Orchard is a U-Pick-Em farm open seasonally for different events.
You can also pick up great gift baskets here or buy some food supplies for your campsite or cabin.
The homemade pies and apple cider doughnuts look amazing.
The orchard is closed from February through April.
Catoctin Mountain Park is the home of Camp David, but there’s plenty of room for everyone in the surrounding wilderness that spans nearly 5,800 acres.
Camping and cabins are available to rent, and you won’t have to worry about altitude sickness as the highest peak is less than 2,000 feet.
For some great Instagram moments, visit the covered bridges of Frederick County.
Roddy Road Covered Bridge and Loy’s Station Covered Bridge are the two main attractions here.
Places to Avoid in Thurmont
There aren’t dangerous neighborhoods here, so you can explore freely.
The town is very small, so you also won’t be able to get lost.
If you hit the wilderness, you’ve gone too far.
You need to keep track of your park planning through the National Park Service app.
Some of the roads in this region will be closed or impassible during winter weather.
Flooding, fires, or storms can also keep certain parts of the park off-limits.
We also need to talk about bear safety in this region.
You’ll only find black bears here, so it’s smart to remember the saying, “If it’s brown, lay down.
If it’s black, fight back.”
Black bears are the friendlier bear and least likely to attack – although most bears won’t mess with you unless you mess with them.
They can smell food up to a mile away, so bring bear-proof containers and use bear-safe trash cans during your stay.
If you are approach by a black bear, don’t play dead.
Stay upright and slowly back away.
There’s a good chance it will run up a tree to avoid you.
Also, when a bear stands on its hind legs, that is not a threatening move.
The bear is signaling that it’s curious about you and just sizing you up.
If you speak in a calm tone and back away slowly (never turn your back) you should be able to enjoy telling the story of your bear encounter for years to come.
Avoid trying to get too close to Camp David.
It’s not a tourist attraction and there is no indication it’s even there aside from intimidating fencing.
The entrances are hidden, but not impossible to find.
You will see signs clearly telling you to not enter the property.
There are no scenic vistas or overlooks that get you a view of the location.
Unless you want to end up on vacation with the Secret Service interrogating you, don’t try to get too close to Camp David.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Thurmont
- The Thurmont Police Department is located on Main Street. If you’re traveling with kids, you might want to call ahead and see if Safetypup is available for a meet-and-greet to teach some important safety lessons. The phone number for the department is (301)600-2071.
- You can report crime tips in the city and in the wild. The crime tip holing in Thurmont is (301)271-0905 Ext. 104. The Maryland Wildlife Crime Stoppers is (443)433-4112. This is the number you’d use for poachers. You can remain anonymous on all crime tips.
- The police department’s website has some basic information, but updated crime data and news releases aren’t posted there. Visit the department’s Facebook page instead @ThurmontPoliceDept.
- Sign up for emergency notifications through AlertFC (Frederick County) and you’ll be on top of all the weather risks and other safety challenges that happen in the region. You can also email Alert@FrederickCountyMD.gov to learn more about the program.
- Check your mobile phone carriers coverage area to see where the dead zones are in this area. You’ll most likely be without reliable service in most of the mountainous area. Buy a weather radio to take with you while hiking or exploring, since you won’t be able to get emergency alerts.
- Catoctin Mountain Park has several scenic vistas that are surrounded by rocky regions. The National Park Service wanted me to tell you that people are frequently injured trying to jump from rock to rock. The rocks are usually farther apart than they look.
- Before you head into the mountains, either use your NPS app or call 301-663-9388 to get information about road closures or detours. You can also look for information about campground closures, as some areas aren’t open throughout the year. Generally after May 1 all campgrounds and cabins will be open for the season.
- For summer or holiday visitors, the Houck Area of Cunningham Falls State Park can fill up quickly. If the park is at maximum capacity, the entrance will be closed. Don’t park on the side of the road and hike in. Wait until the crowds die down or schedule the trip another day and arrive early.
- You cannot and should not try to swim in Cunningham Falls. Hundreds of people have ignored this rule and ended up hurt from slipping on the rocks or falling off rocks. Stay on the trails while you’re in the park as well.
- Use MD 511 to get information about road conditions. This is a real-time information application with live cameras along certain roads. You’ll be able to save routes and check construction, closures or accidents on that route.
So... How Safe Is Thurmont Really?
Check the “TPD Stats” on the department’s website for sporadically updated monthly crime data.
As of this publication, the latest data is from June 2022.
As of that report, there were three violent crimes and 16 thefts.
Since 2011, the city hasn’t seen more than three robberies per year.
Since 2015, there have been fewer than 50 thefts per year.
While you don’t have to worry about crime risks too much, you should still practice all the top personal safety precautions as if you were in a dangerous city.
It’s easy to feel comfortable enough here to leave a car door unlocked, or the windows rolled down.
No city is THAT safe.
You also should read the safety guidelines for each of the parks in this region, as well as review the emergency management planning for all seasons.
You can learn what to pack in your car, how to call for help if you don’t have service, and how to navigate severe weather if you’re stuck outside.
How Does Thurmont Compare?
|Belize City (Belize)||37|
|La Paz (Bolivia)||52|
A U.S. Visa or Visa Waiver is required for all international visitors. This process can take several months, so start planning using the tools on the U.S. State Department website. Your visa will be tucked into your passport, so keep those in a safe place during your trip.
The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here. Exchange currency at the airport as you likely won't find a currency exchange location in this small town. You'll want some cash since small towns might have "cash only" locations. Don't carry all your cash in one place.
Plan for extensive winter clothing from late fall through early spring. Since so many activities are geared toward the outdoors, you'll want to have layers of protection from the elements. For spring and fall, bring layers of clothing as temperatures can fluctuate. You should bring worn-in hiking boots and wear comfortable, casual clothing. Summers will be hot and muggy. You can't afford to be outdoors without bug spray or sunscreen.
Hagerstown has a regional airport with flights through Allegiant Airline. The airport only serves their cities; Orlando, St. Petersburg (Florida), and Myrtle Beach. You can get to Baltimore's airport (BWI) or Dulles Airport (IAD) outside of Washington, D.C., in less than 90 minutes.
Explore travel insurance options for your flight as well as wilderness adventures. It's a little-known secret that should be announced to the world that camping/RV/hiking insurance does exist.
Thurmont Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
|Temperature / Month||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
Maryland - Safety by City
|Germantown & Gaithersburg||72|