Located on Assateague Island just outside of Ocean City and Berlin, Maryland, Assateague State Park is the state's only oceanside state park. Flaunting 37 miles of coastline, Assateague Island National Seashore is a part of the Maryland State Park and the National Park system.
About Assateague State Park
This barrier island lies between the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and Sinepuxent Bay. With two miles of oceanfront goodness for swimming, surfing, fishing, and strolling, Assateague is a special place to spend some precious time with yourself or your loved ones. On the bayside, guests can explore private coves and sea crevices by boat or kayak. There is also vast marshland to discover, home to wildlife such as deer, waterfowl, and even feral horses.
History of the Land
This incredible barrier island is home to the Pocomoke Native tribe. The word "Assateague" translates to "a stream running between." In 1933, an extreme hurricane created the Ocean City inlet and the island that is now the state park. In the 1960s, the state of Maryland introduced legislation to protect the island and prevent development.
What to Do at the Park
State park visitors enjoy fun activities and adventures, including exploring the nature trails, kayaking, biking, looking for wild horses, fishing, surfing, taking a tour, or checking out the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Visit the ranger station or the visitors center to grab a trail map and plan your outdoor journey!
For anglers in the group, surf fishing is permitted year-round, but you must stay outside of the guarded beach areas in season. There is also a boat launch facility on the mainland side of the bridge. You can only fish and clam in the bays (a license may be required). Check the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland saltwater angler registry for regulations and rules.
For a more private experience of the island, schedule a guided tour with Assateague Island Tours or plan a horseback riding excursion with one of the independent tour companies. Another way to get around is to rent an ocean kayak for a half, full, or multi-day trip. Surfers will love riding what are known as some of the best swells in the area.
Camping at Assateague State Park
There are 350 overnight sites at the park, each with a picnic table and a fire ring. There is a camping area available for campers who want electric hookups and options for youth group camping and primitive camping. All of the sites are close to bathhouses with cold-water showers and chemical toilets, and drinking water. All sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis from 10/16 to 4/14 for $20/night.
Different camping areas include the oceanside drive-in area, the oceanside walk-in area, the bayside drive-in area, and the group camping area. There is also a camp store and campground office on-site for those who need more information or necessities while at the park.
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
For a chance of seeing the famous wild ponies and horses of the area, head to the southern end of Assateague Island, which crosses over into the state of Virginia. This region is known as the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, where wild horses roam the marshes, woods, and beaches.
Vital Information to Visit the Park
When you make your way to the park, you have to enter through the Verrazano Bridge on the north end or the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge entrance on the south end. The National Park Service (NPS), the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources create and preserve this incredible barrier island.
The visitor center is open year-round from 9 AM to 5 PM. It is on the south-side entrance of the park on Route 66, just before the bridge (except for on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day). You can also find restrooms, a gift shop, lost and found, and emergency services available year-round.
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