Assateague Island National Seashore has two oceanside and four bayside camping areas for visitors who wish to backpack or paddle the island. All backcountry campsites are located in Maryland; no camping is permitted in the Virginia district. The distance traveled to backcountry sites from the Ranger Station in Maryland range from 2 1/2 to 13 miles. If traveling from the Toms Cove Visitor Center in Virginia the nearest campsites are State Line and Pope Bay, each at 12 1/2 miles. Read our backcountry camping brochure (pdf file, 1.1MB) for more information.
Backcountry Campsite Descriptions
Obtaining a Backcountry Permit
Due to sudden and severe changes in weather, advance reservations are not accepted. Permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of departure.
Please consider your level of experience and weather conditions and adjust your start time accordingly.
Please check with radio, television, and the internet for up-to-date information on local weather patterns. Paddlers should obtain information from the National Weather Service regarding small craft advisories for "Coastal Waters from Fenwick Island to Chincoteague Island" at http://www.erh.noaa.gov/akq/index.php or by calling (410) 641-3030.
In Maryland, canoe rentals are available on the island. Call 410-726-3217 or visit http://www.mdcoastalbays.org/ from Memorial Day through Labor Day. In the off-season, rentals are often available in the local area. In Virginia, canoe rentals are available from several local vendors. Call the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce at (757) 336-6161 for more information. Many outfitters will not rent canoes or kayaks during a small craft advisory.
Did You Know?
Prickly pear cactus is native to dry, sandy areas on Assateague Island. American Indians applied peeled pads to wounds and drank pad tea for lung ailments. Fruits were eaten fresh or dried for winter use.