Assateague State Park
Guide

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Introduction

It's Maryland's only oceanfront park and a destination that will enchant guests of all ages. Assateague State Park is both family and pet-friendly, with all sorts of activities provided for the kids and beach time fun for your furry friend. The lure of Assateague Island's infamous ponies likely first sparked your interests, but there is so much more here for visitors to soak up - including the sun. With just a short walk over some sand dunes, visitors can go from beach to bunk. The campground rests only minutes from the waves. That means your stay will be accompanied by the beautiful salty breeze of the Atlantic.

Unloading your rig at Assateague State Park is just as easy as it is exciting. With this part of the trip complete, that means you can move on to the fun stuff - there's a lot of it here! Whether you join beach goers to sunbathe, swim in the Atlantic Ocean, or busy yourself with beachcombing, you'll find it's easy to see the day fly by. As an island, Assateague provides not only the almost endless ocean, but there is also a view bayside. This side is where guests have the opportunity to explore secluded coves by paddle boat, among other activities. The marsh areas of the island preserve a variety of wildlife, including the famed ponies.

Guests are advised not to interact with, feed, or approach the wild horses--no matter how enticing. They are wild animals and need to be regarded with respect in order to ensure their safety as well as yours. You may find that some of the horses are quite persistent about food. Be advised to follow all food storage procedures. Another tip: bring the bug spray. There are a lot of biting flies and mosquitoes that frequent the island. Instead of letting them spoil your trip, come prepared.

RV Rentals in Assateague State Park

Transportation in Assateague State Park

Driving

Getting to the park is as easy as it gets, with a straightforward ride over the Verrazano Bridge. There are two roads that extend the length of the state park and one that continues on to the National Seashore. The two-way road leading into the campground passes through all available site loops. Once your loop is found, expect a one-way horseshoe to take you to your destination.

Parking

Day-use lots offer a few parking options here, but your best bet for RVs and trailers is to book one of the 300 campsites available. One-way loops create horseshoe sections in the campground that lead to relatively spacious sites. All sites are back-in (no pull-throughs here) and only those parked in J-Loop will have electric hookups. The campground is an ideal place to park, with a short trek over the sand dunes, to the water. Plus, the added bonus: you won't have to dance around the parking lot with the day-use crowds.

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Assateague State Park

Campsites in Assateague State Park

Reservations camping

Assateague State Park Campground

From mid-April through the ending days in October, most campsites in Assateague State Park's campground are available for reservation. While reservations are not required for your stay, they are highly recommended, as this park sees a great deal of visitors during peak times. The state park is open year-round, however, many choose to venture this way during sunnier days .

The campground is large, hosting a whopping 350 sites. Each spacious site has a picnic table and fire ring, and electric hookups are available to guests staying in H-Loop as well as some in J-Loop. Each individual campground loop has either a bathhouse within it or in close proximity, and you can expect at least one dune crossover before reaching the shore. Also tucked in the park's campground, the Nature Center rests between Loop D and Loop E. The center is an awesome way to get up close and personal with some of the area's local wildlife. Families will be happy to find a playground and basketball court here as well.

Family-friendly and pet-friendly, this park is an ideal destination to set up your rig. Who knew such a busy campground could be so quaint? Guests are reminded to always be mindful of the resident ponies. While these creatures tend to spark the desire to camp at Assateague State Park, it is important to note that they are wild animals and approaching them, petting them, or feeding them is not permitted, or advised.

First-come first-served

Walk-Up Camping

While reservations are not required in order to camp at Assateague State Park, they are highly encouraged. This is a rather popular vacation destination, as visitors flock here to get a different taste of Maryland. It's a unique seaside escape out here, when compared to other portions of the state's coast. Think you'll get lucky? You may just find space to park your RV or camper trailer if you've stopped here on a whim.

Alternate camping

Assateague Island Parks

If you've discovered the state park's campground is filled to capacity, you don't have to worry about turning away and heading back across the bridge. This island has much more to offer visitors, with available accommodations at neighboring Assateague Island National Seashore. Visitors are able to register 24 hours a day by signing into an available site (after Ranger Station is closed) and paying the next morning or by registering between 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. (when the Ranger Station is open). Hours for the Ranger Station may vary with season. All registration must be done in person, as there is no online reservation system.

The National Seashore doesn't share all the same comforting amenities as Assateague State Park. There are showers (but they are not warm), chemical toilets, and the park allows for pets to stay along with you. There are two day-use entrances to the national park and dune crossovers that lead to a beautiful, breezy beach, much like the state park's trek to the ocean. It's a pleasant alternative for a stay, and another fantastic setting for Assateague Island fun.

Walk-In Campsites

A handful of "walk-in only" sites are situated in Loop-J of the campground. Once situated, with vehicles parked in an adjacent lot, visitors can simply trek over the dunes and head toward the Atlantic Ocean. This short walk to the water is just one of the reasons these locations are so ideal.

Seasonal activities in Assateague State Park

In-Season

Junior Beach Patrol

Family outings tend to bring a whole other level to RVing. When you've got kids to entertain, Assateague State Park is a sure place to set as your destination. There are all sorts of interpretive programs, exhibits, and kids are even invited to join the Assateague State Park Beach Patrol through a training program with the lifeguards. Participants, ages 7-15, get to learn about all the different aspects of being a lifeguard, including lessons on ocean ecology, the beach, basic surf rescue techniques, fitness challenges, and more.

Ocean Swimming

Assateague State Park's lifeguards station themselves on the beach from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. Visitors are encouraged to swim in these guarded areas, as outside the sector is considered multi-recreational. Flags designate the length of this safe swimming sector, though, you can technically swim anywhere along the ocean. Your safety is always taken in consideration with utmost sincerity and swimmers are warned to partake at their own risk.

Sunbathing

What better excuse to soak up some sun than this magnificent stretch of beach? Assateague State Park lies between both the Sinepuxent Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Oceanside, visitors can get a magnificent view, with summer's sweet sunny rays attracting all sorts of beach goers. The sand and surf are quite popular here, but still a nice getaway from Maryland's busier beaches. Lather up that sunscreen and be sure to bring a towel, umbrella, chair, and any other beach necessities. You'll be surprised how easily the day passes by here.

Beach Yoga

While park guests are welcome to partake in practicing yoga at any point in time during their stay, visitors are also encouraged to join in with the featured yoga program. Weekly program schedules are posted at the Ranger Station and on campground bulletin boards, so you can easily find information on exact dates and times. What better way to start the day than with some relaxing yoga on the beach?

Nature Center

Set aside some time to visit Assateague State Park's own Nature Center. The center is conveniently located in the park campground, between loops D and E. Here, you can spend some time getting up close and personal with the area's fascinating creatures. Aquariums at the Nature Center are full of underwater inhabitants, like crabs, whelks, seahorses, horseshoe crabs, and all sorts of fish. Critters sharing the land with us are featured here too, such as snakes and owls. It's surely a favorite among visitors young and old.

Off-Season

Biking

Sometimes, getting around on two wheels is much more fun than getting around on two feet. If you've brought your bike along on your journey, you'll be delighted to find that you can ride just about anywhere in the park. Always be sure to stay within designated bike lanes. Maryland law also states that children, up to age 16, are required to wear a helmet in order to ride. The rest of the state's bicycles laws, as well as a biking map, can be obtained through the Ranger Station.

Fishing

Fishing in the off-season is a popular pastime for visitors. The beaches tend to be a lot less populated, meaning more surf fishing to get in. You can expect to throw a line in either at the marina or directly on the beach. As long as surf fishing is done outside of lifeguarded areas, you can rest assured. Certain charges will apply (ranging from $3-$12) and will depend upon destination. Whether you're looking to get a few bites from the bay or are lured out to sea on a boat, you're sure to get some good fishing in. State regulations apply and are according to type of catch. A fish cleaning station is made available at the marina.

Kite Flying

You may be surprised how many of the park's guests come to enjoy the magnificent hobby of kite flying. In the off-season, the shoreline lends some quiet time, so you don't have to worry about bumping elbows with other beach goers. The winds here make it an ideal location for soaring above the sea. The shore's breeze may be chilly, but it can easily carry not only your kite, but your spirits as well.

Ocean Kayaking

Kayaks can be launched into the ocean during daylight hours and only north or south of the swimming sector (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend). Outside of guarded hours, the entire stretch is free to paddle through. These are some of the best times to get some ocean kayaking in, as the waters aren't as busy. It's advised that a life jacket be worn at all times while within the vessel, as the surf can be rather influential. All aquatic excursions are done at the partaker's own risk, as lifeguards are no longer on duty during off season dates. Park staff still periodically patrol the beach, but it's best to abide by all posted regulations to ensure your vacation stays just as safe as it is fun.

Assateague Wildlife and Ponies

While many of the park's visitors come with the allure of the resident ponies, it's important to note that a whole host of other animals call this place home. It is an ideal setting to get a real taste of the area's wildlife and ocean ecology. Over 200 species of birds have been spotted here and both whitetail and sika deer live on the island. The bay and ocean surround the state park and these waters teem with life. Guests may spot aquatic animals, such as sea trout, puffer fish, flounder, rockfish, bluefish, and even dolphins.

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