Inside Camp David

Since 1942, when the retreat formerly known as Shangri-La opened, U.S. presidents have used Camp David to relax with family and friends and to host foreign dignitaries. But when President Dwight D. Eisenhower took office, he saw it as a “needless luxury” and was going to close it. His attorney general, enthralled after a visit, urged the president to see it. Ike spared the camp, albeit with a small change. In a May 1953 letter, he wrote: “I have kept only a little camp up in the Catoctins. It has been renamed ‘Camp David.’ ‘Shangri-La’ was just a little fancy for a Kansas farm boy.” He renamed it after his father and grandson.

Aircraft restrictions around Camp David will extend farther than usual. On the ground, Catoctin Mountain Park will be closed from Thursday morning to Sunday morning; Cunningham Falls State Park will be closed Wednesday through Sunday.

Tennis courts

Staff pool/gym


Evergreen Chapel
President George H. W. Bush's daughter Dorothy was married here in 1992.

Laurel Lodge
Place for official meetings and meals

Hickory Lodge
A place to bowl, watch movies and buy souvenirs.

Aspen Lodge
The president's cabin was known as the “The Big House” by staff during Eisenhower's tenure.

Putting green, sand traps and tees

Figure eight swimming pool

Cedar Cabin
The four-bedroom, one-story building is home to Camp David's commanding officer.

Helicopter landing zone
The flight aboard Marine One from the White House is about 30 minutes.

Main entrance

Skeet range

SOURCES: National Park Service; Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum;; satellite photo via Google Earth GRAPHIC: Gene Thorp and Bill Webster - The Washington Post. Published May 17, 2012.