FAQs – 2019 Maryland Lighthouse Challenge

Frequently Asked QuestionsFrequently Asked Questions for 2019 Maryland Lighthouse Challenge

What is the Maryland Lighthouse Challenge? The Challenge is a weekend-long event in which the general public is invited to visit eleven lighthouses in Maryland. Visit one or more of the mandatory lighthouses noted below (in any order) and receive a complimentary souvenir at each. The “challenge”, however for those able, is to visit all eleven!  Do so, and you will receive a special “completer” souvenir proclaiming that “You’ve seen the lights!”

This year’s Mandatory Challenge Lights (those needed for “event completion”) include: Choptank River Lighthouse Replica, Concord Point, Cove Point, Drum Point, Fort Washington, Hooper Strait, Piney Point, Point Lookout, Sandy Point Shoal, Seven Foot Knoll, and the Lightship Chesapeake.

This year’s Bonus Lights include: Blackistone Replica (by way of a boat ride to St. Clement’s Island) and Millers Island Lighthouse, visible from the Dock of the Bay Restaurant in Sparrows Point.  Visiting any or all of the bonus attractions (including an *add-on bonus cruise, September 19, 20, or 23) does not count toward event “completion” but will earn participants extra souvenirs.

*See the Challenge webpage for 2019 Add-on cruise details or visit http://www.sawyercharters.com/chesapeake-bay-lighthouse-cruises.htm

Please note: With the exception of the Blackistone Replica, and the Add-On Cruise departure site, Chapter volunteers will be on site to greet and assist you.

The souvenirs for Bonus Light, Blackistone Replica will be available at the lighthouse location on St. Clement’s Island which you will get to by boat from the St. Clement’sIsland Museum. 

How early can I start? The lighthouses have agreed to open by 8:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.  Please do not plan to arrive before the 8:00 a.m. start time as it is very likely the lighthouses will not be open or our volunteers may not have arrived or be set up yet.

The lighthouses will be open until 6:00 p.m. both days.

Please note: There is an “early bird special” that allows you the option of visiting Choptank River, Hooper Strait, and Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouses on Friday, September 20.  (Friday hours are 10:00 am – 7:00 pm to view the lighthouses and collect your souvenirs.

Please note: our volunteers will be on hand up until 7:00 p.m. at the Hooper Strait location (even though the lighthouse is only open till 6:00 p.m.). This is being done to accommodate those Challengers who will be taking the Friday Bonus Cruise out of Hoopers Island, then wanting to also visit Choptank River and Hooper Strait Lighthouses as part of the early bird special.

Where do I start? Since we do not have our volunteers at Blackistone and limited volunteers at the Millers Island viewing location, you can certainly visit these lighthouses first, but you will not actually “begin” the Challenge at these locations. You will technically begin the Challenge when you visit any one of the mandatory stops along the Challenge route.

Directions (one light to the next) can be downloaded through the Challenge webpage. Direction sheets will also be available at all mandatory stops along the Challenge route.  The directions are listed (north to south) beginning with Concord Point and ending with Fort Washington—or you can follow in reverse order, Fort Washington to Concord Point. Following the route in either of these orders is ONLY a suggestion. You are encouraged to start the Challenge anywhere along the route. We have found in the past, to avoid delays at either of the designated starting points (Concord Point or Fort Washington), people often choose to chart their own courses and plan accordingly.  Due to traffic and parking issues in downtown Baltimore, it is strongly suggested that you visit the inner harbor location (Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse and the Lightship Chesapeake as early in the day as possible. (The earlier, the better).

Please note: This is particularly relevant on Sunday as there is an Orioles baseball game beginning at 1:00 pm.  Additionally, entry to the Lightship is free prior to 10:00 am.  After 10:00 am, there is a $5.00 pp charge. However, presenting the Lightship Boarding Ticket to the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse will gain you entry for free.  Thus, we recommend going to the Lightship Chesapeake FIRST.

For your aid in navigating the state of Maryland, you can obtain the latest copy of a Maryland Map at http://www.roads.maryland.gov/Index.aspx?PageId=311   Maps will be available along the Challenge route.

Where do I collect my “completion” souvenir? Since the completer souvenir is awarded for visiting all eleven mandatory stops, please plan to sign the completion sheet and collect your completion souvenir at your 11th (and hence, last) mandatory stop.  See the list of mandatory stops listed above.

How long does it take to do the entire Challenge? The time it takes to complete the Challenge will vary depending on how long you spend at each lighthouse and when and where you stop. Road conditions in this area may be unpredictable. Plan on the entire two days and plan Bonus Light stops accordingly, as time permits. You may want to take part in the early bird special on Friday in order to have more time to spend at each lighthouse.  What we encourage above all else, is that participants drive safely and follow speed limit signs at all times. This is a driving tour to be enjoyed, not a race just to see who finishes the Challenge first.

Is there a rain date? The Challenge will take place rain or shine. 

How much does it cost? The Chapter does not charge Challengers anything to take part in the event or for the souvenir pieces.  HOWEVER, some of the lighthouses do charge fees (depending upon whether you climb the lighthouse, whether there is a park entrance fee, etc.). In most cases these fees have been reduced for Challengers on Challenge Weekend to encourage people to visit as many lights as possible. Fees are at the discretion of each lighthouse organization, not the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S.L.H.S. There is also a one-way Bay Bridge toll when crossing from one side of the Bay to the other (west to east).  The toll costs for a regular car/SUV are $4.00 cash, $6.00 video toll, $2.50 with a MD E-ZPass, and $4.00 with an out-of-state E-ZPass. Road tolls are noted in the Driving Directions where they are to occur along the route.  

Please note: Refer to the Fees and Schedule page for the most up-to-date information on fees and any changes.

Can I get into each lighthouse? Viewing only lights include Ft. Washington, Sandy Point Shoal, Millers Island, and Point Lookout.  Cove Point has entry into the base only.  All the other lights, including Blackistone Replica, have entry into the light and are climbable.

Please note: Due to work that may be occurring at any one of the Challenge lighthouses at any time, it is possible that entry may be restricted.  If this occurs, it will be noted on the Challenge webpage.  

Who benefits from the money raised Challenge Weekend? The organizations that take care of the lights get the money you pay in fees. In some cases, the fees are just to cover the cost of opening it to the public. In others, the money is used in preservation efforts or as the organization sees fit. There are some mandatory park fees that do not go to the lighthouses directly. No money raised through fees goes to the Chesapeake Chapter U.S.L.H.S. We encourage you to support the Challenge event by purchasing event souvenirs such as the 2019 Challenge t-shirts and pins, or any other event related memorabilia. The money raised through the sale of these items will help offset some of the costs of the Challenge.

Will there be food available at any of the lighthouses?   The Dock of the Bay Restaurant, in Sparrows Point. (viewing spot for Millers Island Lighthouse) is one of few sites with food available.  You can show the owner of the Dock of the Bay Restaurant your appreciation for letting us view the lighthouse from his restaurant by having a cold drink or meal while there!  Limited snacks and drinks will be available at the East Beach concession at Sandy Point State Park.

Do you have recommendations for places to stay? Yes, for your convenience, we have a list of hotels/inns that are offering discounted accommodations along the Maryland Lighthouse Challenge route. cheslights.org/discounted-hotel-accommodations/

Will there be gift shops open? Many of the lighthouses do have gift shops or will have items available for purchase. The availability will vary by lighthouse. Please note that not all lighthouse organizations have the ability to take credit cards and only accept cash.

Will there be Chapter merchandise available? The Chapter will have a wide array of Chapter Merchandise (AKA: Loft items) for sale at Calvert Marine Museum and possibly one or two other stops along the Challenge route. Or you can order through our website at cheslights.org/shop. Links should all be formatted the same way.

Will there be Challenge T-shirts and Pins this year? Challenge T-shirts and Pins will be available at select stops along the Challenge route.  At this time, it is anticipated that the stops will include Concord Point, Drum Point, Hooper Strait, and Piney Point. Any change will be noted on the Challenge webpage as the event draws closer.

Why are you doing this? Part of the mission of the Chapter is to promote an appreciation for lighthouses and to educate the public about them. This is one way to get people out to enjoy the lighthouses of Maryland and introduce families to our rich maritime history!

Do you have to be a Chapter member to take the Challenge? No. It is open to anyone and everyone! There are many advantages to becoming a member and andChapter membership forms will be available at each light from our volunteer hosts or sign up on our website at cheslights.org/membership.  The Challenge is run in conjunction with a membership drive.  Signing up for a membership during the Challenge earns a bonus souvenir!

Do you have to register to take the Challenge? No, you just show up at any mandatory lighthouse and visit as many or as few as you choose. Complimentary event souvenirs will be given at each lighthouse visited.  The “challenge” is to visit them all, but certainly not necessary to participate in the event.  Any time spent at a Maryland lighthouse is time well spent and we encourage you to visit any number of the lighthouses Challenge Weekend!

Are Chapter dues used to pay for the Challenge? No, money to pay for the Challenge is raised through sponsorships, donations, raffles and the sale of Challenge t-shirts, pins/patches, postcards and other “Challenge” merchandise sold during the event itself.

Are you going to do a Virginia Challenge? There are far fewer land-accessible lighthouses in Virginia, some with more restricted access.  These factors would make the coordination of a Virginia event much more difficult but it is not impossible for the future.

Can you meet the Chesapeake Chapter President?  You can look forward to meeting Chesapeake Chapter President, Cory Talbott at Fort Washington.  She will be the one in the custom lighthouse suit!

What are this year’s event souvenirs? …Oh, so glad you asked!  2019 Challenge Participants will be enjoying an Artful Lighthouse Challenge collecting original Donna Elias 2” watercolor board coins.  You will receive a complimentary watercolor trading coin of each lighthouse you visit along the Challenge route.  Those participants who visit all eleven mandatory stops along the route will receive a special watercolor coin proclaiming that “You’ve seen the lights!”


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