Assateague Island camping is among the most unique experiences in the USA. Acting as a barrier island for Maryland & Virginia, Assateague is best know for its sandy beaches, famous lighthouse and wild roaming horses.
As you can imagine, camping at Assateague is very protected. State Park, National Park and Fish & Wildlife areas encompass all of the island.
This makes is challenging to understand all your camping options. But, fear not camper! We’re going to break it down today and fill you in on the 5 best Assateague Island camping sites.
In addition to the campsite info, each site has an “Assateague Island Camping Vibes” score. This score is based on the site location, the cost and overall camper reviews.
Let’s dive in!
Bayside Drive In – National Park Service
Ideal for: RVers, tent campers and van campers.
The Scoop: This is an awesome waterfront campground that can accommodate most styles of camping (probably not huge RVs). It offers almost no amenities, though. The onsite toilet is pretty standard for national park campgrounds…so don’t expect too much.
But, who needs amenities when you’re camping on the beach. We’d love to take our foldable kayak and have it in the water in minutes! You can also watch the wild horses roam the streets.
Come Prepared: Bugs for days! Bring some bug spray on your trip because there’s a good chance you’ll need it. Also – horses are great, but they poop everywhere.
Why You’ll Love It: You’ll love this site if you want to camp at an established campground, but also want chill beach vibes. There’s a pretty good balance of accesibility and privacy at Bayside Drive-In.
Assateague Island Camping Vibes Score: 6.8/10
Assateague Island State Park Campground
Ideal for: RVers, Tent Campers, Van Campers
The Scoop: This is a massive campground with more than 300 sites. The camp loops are all super close to the beach and there’s even one loop with 30amp electricity. Being a huge campground trying to make a buck, the concession stand is pretty great!
The crowds, however, are less than ideal for our style of camping. Check out this image below to get a sense of how many people camp here on any given day.
Come Prepared: Mentally prepare yourself that 600+ people could be at this park when you visit. Yes, it is a spacious park. But, don’t expect solitude.
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re planning a big camping trip with all your friends, this is a great site. You’ll have a good chance of getting reservations near each other. Also, if you’re an RVer that needs electrical hook up – this is the only one in town.
Assateague Island Camping Vibes Score: 5.9/10
Backcountry Camping – National Park
Ideal for: Experienced adventurers who want to hike or paddle to their campsite.
The Scoop: First and foremost, you must have a backcountry permit to do backcountry camping. Once a permit is acquired, there are two camping options – oceanside & bayside. At each site is a picnic table and vault toilet. Both sites can accommodate up to 25 people.
Come Prepared: This is totally off grid. You’ll have to bring your own water (minimum of a gallon per day is recommended) and, obviously, enough food! Pets aren’t allowed during backcountry camping. Don’t try this without previous backcountry experience.
Why You’ll Love It: You’ll beat the crowds. This is the type of peaceful camping we crave. If you want a real Assateague Island camping adventure, this could be for you!
Assateague Island Camping Vibes Score: 9.2/10
Horse Camp – National Park
Ideal for: Horseback riders.
The Scoop: There are only two sites available, and they’re only available seasonly (Oct 16 – April 16). Reservations for the sites can be made 6 month in advance.
Come Prepared: Since you’ll be traveling with your horses, generators are allowed on site. We recommend an inverter generator because they’re MUCH quieter than regular generators.
Why You’ll Love It: You love camping with horses, so you’ll love this spot!
Assateague Island Camping Vibes Score: 7.5/10
Chincoteague Island KOA
Ideal for: Campers who want easy access to Assateague Island and all the amenities of a modern campground.
The Scoop: Yes, we know, this campground isn’t on Assateague Island…but its literally one mile from the island. This KOA has a ton of water activities on site including; kayak launch, jumping pillow and Maui Jack’s Water Park.
They have tent sites, RV sites and cabins available.
Come Prepare: KOA has you covered on most fronts. The only preparation you’ll need it a fat wallet. This campground will set you back almost $100 per night.
Why You’ll Love It: You’ll get first class campground amenities and easy access to Assateague Island.
Assateague Island Camping Vibes Score: 6.9/10
Assateague Island Camping Resources
Despite the vast popularity of camping on the island, finding good resources aren’t as easy. Most of the info comes from bulky state & federal websites. We found this YouTube video below to be a good reference for National Park Camping.
Also, check out this well written piece by Wandrly. It contains some valuable insight about the horses on the island.
The Best FREE Camping in the USA
We love camping across this amazing country. And, we really love it when its free. Here’s our list of the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.
If you haven’t tried free camping before, also known as boondocking, take a look at our beginners guide to boondocking filled with everything you need to know to get started.