Assateague Island, famed for its wild horses, lies off the Delmarva Peninsula on the Atlantic Coast. This barrier island is a constantly shifting ribbon of sand, altered daily by powerful wind and waves. The Assateague Island National Seashore, Assateague State Park, and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge each manage and protect this unique, diverse strip of land. For more information, please click here .
Activities are abundant on the island, with crabbing and clamming, and a long stretch of beach for swimming, kayaking and fishing.
The campground is open year-round. Advance reservations are available up to 6 months in advance during the following dates:
Oceanside Group Sites : Year-round. Equestrian Non-electric sites : From October 16 through April 15 each year (closed April 16 - October 15). Oceanside and Bayside Individual sites : From March 15, 2019 through November 15 each year (walk-up only, November 16 - March 14). Amenities include vault toilets, drinking water, and unheated showers for rinsing off sand. Water is available when temperatures are above freezing.
The island can be accessed from the northern route in Maryland or the southern route in Virginia, but there is no through road from one end of the island to the other. Access to both Maryland and Virginia entrances are reached by bridge over mainland routes.
Assateague is a 37-mile long barrier island on the Atlantic Coast of Maryland and Virginia. The terrain is a mix of sand dunes, maritime forests and salt marshes, and is just a couple miles wide at its broadest section. Two herds of wild horses inhabit the island. The Maryland herd roams freely in part of Assateague Island National Seashore. The Virginia herd roams in large fenced areas in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The horses are descendants of late 17th century horses brought by colonists attempting to avoid livestock taxes. They now thrive among other wildlife including sika deer, ghost crabs and migrating birds like the great blue heron and snowy egret.
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge offers a 14,000-acre wildlife preserve located at the southern end of Assateague Island. To the north, Assateague State Park features two miles of pristine ocean beaches.
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This campground has great sites that are right on the ocean with wildlife all around!
There is only one campground in then Assateague park and it's right on the beach. Get ready to get sand everywhere. Be sure to check the forecast before you go because if it gets windy you'll be sure to feel it. I visited in later October and there were very few campers but I imagine the campground fills up in warmer months. The park is small to there are just a few one-way roads leading in and out.
The campground was two loops with drive-in sites as well as walk-in sites that are more removed from the road. There are also cold water showers to help with some of the aforementioned sand.
You'll surely see at least a few ponies on your visit as well as other great wildlife. If you have the time I highly recommend taking the drive over to the Chincoteague side (about an hour) and exploring there. I rented a bike from the Bike Depot and rode it into Chincoteague for a few hours.
Visited in late October on a last minute weekend trip. Had no issues finding a campsite upon arrival, luckily. The staff was super friendly and helpful in picking a site for us. We decided to stay ocean side and was just over the summer dune from the water. Lot had fire ring and table. Set up our tent in the flattest spot we could find. Neighbors next to us had five tents and seven people. There also were quite a few RVs that ran their generators long into the evening. We brought our dogs, and rangers said they were allowed at any campsites but told us where they were restricted. It was really awesome to be able to camp that close to the ocean. The quiet hours were pretty well followed, which allowed us to hear the Sika dear bugle late in the night. The showers and bathroom had much to be desired, but for being on the coast it was nice to have them. No sink near them but there was two faucets (one was locked off, not sure if the other). It got super windy over night, which caused issues to some of the campers at other sites. The check out time was pretty strictly checked up on. Overall we would love to go back and take our bikes to ride the trail. Neat experience and would completely recommend to others.
Adventurous, in that you'll get a first-hand glimpse of the horses, as they are aggressive! Very nice Visitors Center where you could request a ranger badge for the little ones. Would recommend visiting in late summer, early fall to avoid the crowds.
This campsite is like no other I’ve ever been to. If you don’t mind wild horses joining you for dinner and trekking around your campsite at night, then this is your place!! The beach is absolutely gorgeous and so is the scenery. If a crowded beach is not your thing, it gets less crowded as you walk away from the boardwalk. Please be kind to the horses and if you see an injured one, let the Park Rangers know immediately.
Be prepared and all will be well! ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS PLACE!
Chemical toilets, no electricity. Wild horses are everywhere. Put food and toiletries in car. Beautiful beach on both bayside and Oceanside. Awesome kayak rentals.
I love camping at Assateague Campground (Oceanside). The mosquitoes are very bad but it is the most relaxing thing to fall asleep listening to the ocean….make sure your tent spikes and tent are strong enough for storms because it can get very windy… if it’s hurricane season they will ask everyone to leave during a bad storm but that’s never happened to me… the campsite beaches do not have lifeguards but it’s a short walk to the lifeguard beach if you want it. The horses will destroy your tent if you leave food or sweet drinks in it… they have a great sense of smell and will knock down coolers and entire tents if they think there’s food. Leave all food secure in a vehicle if you aren’t at your site. They have little pricker things in the grassy areas that stick to everything! But none of this could make me say it’s bad I absolutely love the Oceanside of Assateague campgrounds! If you need to get horses to leave you can splash them with bottled water or shake a tin with change in it but stay away they can be aggressive..
Bayside is typically the better choice but the Oceanside gives you access to the beach in minutes. Horses can be a nuisance and destroy your campsite but are beautiful to watch. The bayside is great if you have a kayak and some sites you can launch directly into the bay. The Oceanside can be painfully hot, very little breeze behind the dunes and the bathrooms are awful. Would recommend staying at the state park instead.
This place is beautiful plus there are the most amazing wild horses and sand dunes. We love to camp here but it gets very windy at times. Will keep going over and over!