7206 National Seashore Lane, Berlin, MD 21811
Where is Assateague State Park
Located on Maryland’s Assateague Island, Assateague State Park is Maryland’s only oceanfront park. Assateague island is a barrier island with the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Sinepuxent Bay on the west.
The closest town is Ocean City, about a 25-minute drive up the coast. Berlin is another closer inland city about a 20-minute drive north west a bit more inland in Maryland. Baltimore is the closest large city located about a 3-hour drive north west of Assateague.
There are two entrances onto the Island, one from the north end and one from the south end. To reach the US State Park, the north entrance is the only way as the road does not connect through the island to the south. The state park is directly after the Verrazano Bridge crossing onto the island.
How Big is Assateague State Park
Assateague Island is a 37-mile-long island which includes Assateague Island National Seashore, Assateague State Park, and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Park land and water boundaries of Assateague include over 48,000 acres in Maryland and Virginia.
Assateague State Park includes 855 acres, and 2 miles of shoreline to swim, surf, fish, kayak, and view wildlife such as the well-known feral horses that roam the island. The elevation is sea level and does not rise up more than 9 feet, making it a flat island.
Assateague State Park Weather
Located on the Atlantic Ocean in Maryland, the stay park has 4 seasons. The summer is from May through October with temperatures ranging from 70 to 85 degrees during the day and evenings from 50 to 68 degrees. July is the warmest month with an average high of 85 degrees. Rain is minimal year-round with an average of around 4 inches a month.
Winter is from December to March with temperatures cooling down to an average of around 50 degrees during the day and down to 29 degrees in the evenings. The parks coastal location makes it a windy spot, winds and storms frequently blowing across the island from the Atlantic Ocean.
The state park is most visited from May through September during summer months when people enjoy the warm weather on the beach. However, the state park is open and enjoyed year-round as viewing the wild horses is the most popular activity on the island, available all year.
When did Assateague become a State Park
The infamous Assateague feral horses arrived on Assateague Island when a Spanish ship sank offshore and the horses supposedly swam to Assateague. Another theory of the horses is that colonial settlers allowed their horses to graze there, eventually taking over the island and reproducing.
In the early 1940’s, development from Ocean Beach began creeping further south toward Assateague Island. In 1962 the Great March Storm destroyed about 30 houses built on Assateague and damaged the remaining homes. After the storm, the state and federal governments finally made the island preserved land for all the public to enjoy. The park opened in 1965.
Things to do in Assateague State Park
Assateague State Park has many beach activities to be enjoyed all while viewing the feral horses roaming the beach and marshes. There are a few hiking trails, a biking trail, and a great visitor center to learn more about the island’s ecosystem. Our State Park Visitors Guide highlights some of the parks adventures below.
Watch and Photograph the feral horses
Stay at least 40 feet away from these feral horses. Enjoy them from afar taking photos and observing their wild behavior. There are over 100 horses on the island. Don’t feed, interact, or touch them as they are wild and can injure you.
Bring a rod to fish in the ocean for trout, puffer fish, flounder, rockfish, and bluefish.
The best way to spot the island’s feral horses, deer, and other wildlife is from kayaking cruising the shoreline. Sinepuxent Bay on the west side of the island offers the best kayaking to secluded coves and marsh areas to spot wildlife. Rent a kayak from Assateague Outfitters just down the road.
Enjoy a swim at one of the swimming designated beaches. Don’t forget beach gear. Avoid the horses on the beach and move away if they approach you. Some are known to get aggressive and shouldn’t be messed with.
Bring a bike to enjoy a cruise on the 4-mile island road, Bayberry Drive.
Check out the Assateague Island Visitor Center
Just outside of the state park upon crossing the bridge is a Nature center with native sea creatures, fish, snakes, owls, and great exhibits on the island’s ecology and geology.
When to go to Assateague State Park
The park is open year-round from 7am to sunset. From January to February the park is only open from Thursday-Monday 9 am to 5pm. The most popular time to enjoy all that the park has to offer is during the warm summer months from May to September.
The fall from September to October is a great time as the crowds start to thin out but the temperature remains warm and sunny in the 70’s. Visit the park in the morning for a greater chance to see the feral horses and deer moving about in the cooler morning air. The wildlife typically stays hidden in thicker brush during hot days and afternoons in the summer heat.
Must Have things to bring to Assateague State Park
Assateague Island offers limited services and is a small island that can be very busy. Packing all of your necessities and beach gear will save you time and money. The town of Berlin is only a 20-minute drive away and has a grocery store to purchase necessities before heading to Assateague Island.
WaterList of Parks suggest bringing plenty of water to stay hydrated when you visit the park. There are limited resources on the island.
There is only one snack bar, the Pony Express Grill, on the island. Bring your own snacks and food from the Berlin.
Evenings can cool down into the 50’s. Bring warm layers if you plan on camping on the island.
The summer can be sunny and 85 to 90 degrees. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.
You won’t want to miss taking photos of the feral horses roaming the beaches!
For an up-close look at the local wildlife, bring binoculars to stay a safe distance away.
There are plenty of mosquitos and biting flies on the island, so bring a strong bug spray or mosquito repellent.
Food tight storage container
The feral horses are very curious and persistent about stealing your food. Bring a food tight storage container to keep your food safe from the horses.
Kayaks and other beach gear are available for rent on the island at Assateague Outfitters.
Swimsuit and towel
There are designated swim areas so bring a swimsuit and towel to enjoy a warm summer day!
Where to stay in Assateague State Park
Assateague State Park Campground has 350 sites available for reservation from mid-April through the end of October. Reservations are highly recommended as this park is very busy during the summer months.
Just down the road is the Assateague Island National Seashore campground that is open to first come- first serve. Arrive early in the morning to secure a spot at the campground as it fills up quickly in the morning. There is no online reservation system.
Ocean City, Chincoteague Island, and Virginia are all a close drive and offer many hotels and bed and breakfast options to stay at. Peak season is during the summer months and a reservation and planning ahead of time is key to finding a place to stay nearby.
Food Nearby Assateague State Park
There is no food available in the park. The Pony Express Gift Shop & Grill is located on the island an easy walk or bike form the State Park. Just across the bridge heading north toward Ocean City there are plenty of options. The Assateague Crab House has local seafood from the area and is a great option just a 10-minute drive away.
In the town of Berlin, a 20-minute drive away, there are grocery stores available to purchase food and other necessities to bring to the island.
Airports near Assateague State Park
The closest regional airports are the Ocean City Municipal Airport and the Salisbury Regional Airport in Salisbury Maryland, about a 45-minute drive east of the state park. Rent a car and head out to Assateague for the best experience to explore the area and the island with proper gear and equipment.