I have compiled a list of steps to help you make the perfect Assateague camping reservation.
If you are ready to make your reservation, click below to go directly to the reservation contact resources for each park. Though I highly recommend reviewing the information on this page so that you will be most satisfied with your park and campsite choice.
Why go to all this trouble? After all, it seems pretty straightforward...
The first time we made our Assateague camping reservation, we picked the first site we could find. Close to the bathhouse? Check. Close to the ocean? Check. Looked good to us!
Once we were settled into our campsite however, it didn't take us long to realize that our site was not what you would call optimal.
Unfortunately the location - being right next to the bathhouse - meant that campers across from us had no choice but to walk through our site in order to use the bathroom, shower, or to wash dishes. At all times of day and night, this added up to a lot of people making many, many trips through our campsite. Any hope we had of privacy went right out the proverbial window. There's just no way to politely trample through someone's campsite.
There's nothing that compares to the classic "Ouch! Owwww! #$%!" in the middle of the night from the person who just stepped on one of those little spiky-things just outside your tent on their way to the bathroom…their flashlight beam flying everywhere (what are those little spiky-things, anyway?).
Now we know better.
If you don't already have your vacation days set in stone, I say "time frame" and not exact days because if you are serious about finding the perfect site that fits your needs so that you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest, then you should be prepared to be a bit flexible when making your Assateague camping reservation.
Of course you must take into account the operating seasons for each park:
|Assateague Island National Seashore||Assateague State Park|
|Operating Season||Open year-round with reservations recommended from April 15 - October 15||Regular Season: Late April - End of October
Primitive Camping Season: November - Late April
|Restrictions||Limit 14 nights during the reservation season and total of 30 nights per year.||Maximum two week stay. Can re-register after vacating the park for at least one week.
From Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, two-night weekend stay (Friday and Saturday) is required for your Assateague camping reservation unless you are booking 7 or more nights.
Minimum three-night stay on holiday weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).
Before making your Assateague camping reservation, you should be aware of what the typical weather conditions are going to be for the time frame you are targeting.
A beautiful day on Assateague Island
Another thing to consider when choosing a time to visit Assateague is whether you want a more peaceful, quiet experience or if you won't mind having large families and lots of kids around.
If you have children, you may want to go at a time when there are many other kids for yours to play with. However, if you do not want too many children around, it is best to stay away from holiday weekends.
Also, it helps to know when the local schools are in session as well as schools in surrounding states that frequent the island. Visiting during the week instead of on the weekend also helps.
Insects such as ticks, biting flies, gnats and especially mosquitoes are abundant on Assateague Island from springtime through fall.
We have found however that if you stay close to the beach and away from dense vegetation and the bay, you shouldn't be bothered too much by the little buggers.
For this reason we try to limit our time in the bay and make sure that we use insect repellent and protective clothing when we do dare to venture over.
We discovered last summer that hiking the nature trails (or even thinking about it) results in a swarm of mosquitoes chasing you from one end of the island to the other.
Yes, this really did happen and it's a good thing we were on our bikes because we had to pedal as fast as we possibly could just to get away from them!
Because of this, we highly recommend visiting Assateague in the late fall or winter if you are planning on exploring the nature trails. This would also be a great time to observe wildlife and enjoy the bay without giving blood at the same time.
You should also plan according to the type of activities you wish to partake in. Activities such as fishing, crabbing, and hiking on the trails tend to be seasonal.
For example, if we want to do some serious crabbing, we may want to head down earlier in the summer so that our favorite spots are not all crabbed-out. (Also, the crabs seem to get smarter as the season goes on…either that or only the really smart ones survive the onslaught of enthusiastic crabbers).
If you plan to partake in fishing, crabbing, clamming, or any other activity that may have seasonal limitations, check the current seasons, licensing and registration regulations from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources before making your Assateague camping reservation. Just fill out the online form, submit, and print!
As stated in the previous section, if I want to hike the several nice trails on the island, the summertime may not be the best time to make your Assateague camping reservation. Mosquitoes are abundant at this time of year and you'll end up giving more blood than you bargained for. The fall and winter may be the best time for this.
If you don't have your heart set on spending your days laying on the beach sunbathing in the heat, but wish to enjoy the wildlife and explore the island, the off-season (non-summer months) may be your best bet.
If you haven't already decided, see the pages below for additional details regarding each park.
Much of this decision is weighted on the duration of your visit. For example, if we were only going to pop in for a few days, we may choose Assateague Island National Seashore. However, if we were to stay for a week or more, we would likely choose to make our Assateague camping reservation at the state park due to its amenities of flushing toilets and hot showers.
There are two main limiting factors to this:
If you have dogs, and you wish to camp in the national park, no problem! If you wish to camp in the state park, you will probably have to make your Assateague camping reservation close to a year in advance as there are only a handful (literally) of dog-friendly sites available and they are a hot commodity.
If you would like an electric hookup, you must camp in Assateague State Park, and sites are limited. Again, booking your camping reservation (especially an Assateague State Park reservation) as far in advance as possible is recommended for peak season.
Assuming that you are not limited in your choice, there are some things to take into consideration when choosing a campsite.
Tools for viewing campsites from afar when making your Assateague camping reservation:
The next best thing to visiting the site in person is to zoom in on a satellite map of the island. Yes, you really can see the details of each and every site! Technology is amazing!
Also, the Assateague State Park camping reservation website now shows a small snapshot of most sites in the interactive map. In my opinion however, using a satellite view of the site provides more information.
Zooming in on a satellite map of the island is a great way to view features of potential sites before making your Assateague camping reservation.
1. Room to maneuver
It is a good idea to evaluate each site for ease of maneuverability if you have a camper or RV. Some sites are more camper-friendly than others. I recommend utilizing a satellite view for this.
Also, the length of the paved camping pads vary throughout the parks. This may be important if you have a large setup. The reservation pages are beginning to contain more information about each individual site so be sure to check out site dimensions if they have them listed.
2. Where is the site in proximity to the bath house or other amenities?
As stated in my introduction, I prefer a site that is farther away from the bath house so that I don't get visitors walking through at all hours of the day and night. However I suppose some are not bothered by this and would much rather not have to walk very far in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
3. Are there any dunes nearby? If so, how big are they and where are they positioned?
This is especially important if you are tent camping. You may want to situate your tent utilizing the shelter of a dune to protect you from wind and (gasp!) rain. Dunes are also useful for privacy.
4. Is there a lot of vegetation close to the site?
In our experience, lush vegetation equals mosquitoes, especially in the springtime. This is more of a problem in the national park as the vegetation is more dense and plentiful than in the state park. We have found that camping in the springtime at the southernmost end of the state park can be problematic as well. The biting insect population is not as bad later in the summer and into the fall, so vegetation should not be as much of an issue at that point.
5. How close is the site to the ocean?
Though all the campsites are situated a safe distance from the water, some (myself included) prefer not to camp right behind the only dune separating you from the big blue. Most oceanside sites still have a short walk to the beach regardless of their location, so this is more a case of personal preference when making your Assateague camping reservation.
Just in case you were wondering…I don't camp right next to the ocean because I am haunted by visions of the waves creeping up over the dune in the middle of the night and swallowing me up! Of course this notion is completely ridiculous but alas, it is a fear that I regrettably cannot rid myself of.
Some camp loops are larger than others with varying distances between the sites. If this is important to you, I encourage you to check out a satellite view of the campsite you are considering before making your Assateague camping reservation.
7. Other options:
The national park has bayside campsites available as well as walk-in, backcountry, and group sites. Whatever your needs or preference, there is a campsite for you! See our Assateague Island National Seashore page for more details on the various camping accommodations that are offered.
If you cannot find a site that suits your needs, you may need to go back and re-evaluate choosing a time frame and choosing a campground.
Finding the perfect campsite is worth the time, especially if you stay for a longer duration and if you plan on returning year after year. Some of the advantages are that you learn how to optimize your setup with the landscape and you also get to know your "neighbors." Many people camp at the same site, at the same time, year after year (including us!).
Ready to Make Your Reservation?
Click on the following links to take you directly to the reservation contact resources for each park:
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