Assateague State Park

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Assateague State Park, Maryland, United States
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Assateague fg02.jpg
Feral horses in Assateague State Park
Location Worcester County, Maryland, United States
Coordinates 38°13′45″N 75°08′37″W / 38.22917°N 75.14361°W / 38.22917; -75.14361Coordinates: 38°13′45″N 75°08′37″W / 38.22917°N 75.14361°W / 38.22917; -75.14361
Area 859 acres (3.48 km2)
Governing body Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Assateague State Park is Maryland's only oceanfront park. It is located on Assateague Island, a barrier island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Sinepuxent Bay on the west. Its two miles of ocean beaches offer swimming, beachcombing, sunbathing, surfing and fishing. The marsh areas have a variety of wildlife, including deer, waterfowl and feral horses. Ocean City is approximately nine miles north of the park and can be seen from the island.



Amenities at the park include a bike trail, boat launch/marina, nature programs, camp sites, camp store, dumping station, food & beverage, fishing, swimming, and nature center. A guarded swimming area is available daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Rip currents are a common occurrence on Assateague Island. Fishing is available in the boat launch area or from the ocean beach. Boat launch facilities are on the mainland park acreage. Public access to the beach and the day use parking lot is open from 7:00 a.m. to sunset, 7 days a week.


350 sites are available, each with a fire ring and picnic table.


Fishing at Assateague State Park can be done on the beach or at our marina. Surf fishing on the beach is allowed at the State Park as long as it is done outside of the lifeguarded areas. This policy is the same at the National Park. Bay fishing is allowed at the marina piers and from boats in the designated areas of the Bay. Clamming is allowed at the State Park and at the National Park in different areas of the bay. Beginning January 2011, fishing licenses are required in the Sinepuxent Bay as well as the Atlantic Ocean. Please refer to DNR Licensing & Registration Service for details on fishing licenses and the Maryland saltwater angler registry.


Wild horses (Equus caballus)


Merlin (Falco columbarius) Wing span: 23" Appearance: black/white feathers The merlin is a species of falcon that inhabits Assateague island but it can be seen within the park. Merlins have been documented to disguise themselves by imitating characteristics of a pigeon or woodpecker in order to ambush its prey. It has also been known to be aggressively territorial, even against other birds of prey.

Piping plover (Charadrius melodius) Appearance: Beige, black/white feathers The piping plovers migrate to between the U.S. and the Gulf of Mexico in between seasons but the time spent in the Assateague State Park is used to breed. Unfortunately, piping plover eggs often fall prey to raccoons, gulls, or foxes.

Brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) Wing span:6'6" Appearance: Dark blue feathers The brown pelican Brown pelicans are specialized hunters. They use their enormous bill and expandable pouch to dive into the water to capture fish. They resurface to feed on the fish and take flight again. They consume approximately four pounds of fish a day. This breed of pelican lays 2−4 eggs after it mates.They typically exist in colonies.

Black skimmer (Rynchops niger) Wingspan: 3'8" Appearance: Black and white feathers Black skimmer are specialized hunter due to the way they use their beaks. Both portions of the beak partly colored black but the lower mandible of the black skimmer is longer than the upper mandible and is used to skim across the surface of the water thereby scooping up any unsuspecting fish. Therefore it is aptly named the black skimmer. This species of bird is currently marked as a threatened species. They typically breed in colonies on beaches and lay approximately three to five eggs.


Sika deer (Cervus nippon) Appearance: burnt umber fur Sika deer typically in habit the sand dune areas and marshes within Assateague. The oddity about them is that they were originally introduced into the environment from Japan or eastern Asia. they often behave like elk and display amazing battles between potential male mates during mating season. There are multiple subspecies of sika that exist throughout Asia but many have gone extinct and therefore have been transplanted into other parts of the world to resuscitate the population.

White tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)


Atlantic horseshoe crab (Limulus Polyphemus) Appearance: dark toned exoskeleton (covers entire body) Horseshoe crabs have barely changed from their 300 million-year-old ancestors. They mainly inhabit the shore areas for calmer waters. This species of crab has a strange similarity to spiders due to its multiple pairs of eyes. Horseshoe crabs typically feed on razor clams and other shellfish though horseshoe crabs are hunted by many species of shore birds as well as trout, flounder and other crabs.

Blue crab (Callinectes sapidus)

Atlantic ghost crab (Ocypode quadrata)


Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) Appearance: red/orange coat. Red foxes are typically active at night throughout Assateague. They are commonly spotted on the shoreline. It uses its finely-tuned ears to detect prey such as mice that hide beneath the snow and as a result, they are effective in controlling the rodent populations. Red foxes have a short life span but some have been recorded to survive up to the age of fourteen.



Rackliffe House, overlooking Sinepuxent Bay, is a beautifully restored 18th-century coastal plantation house. The Rackliffe House Trust is now operating the structure and surrounding three acres of property as a Coastal Maryland Heritage Center. Visitors may hike to Rackliffe House any day between dawn and dusk to view the house exterior and explore the grounds.

Volunteer work[edit]

Camp Host[edit]

Camp Host programs around Maryland State Parks give volunteers the chance to experience the nature and wildlife of different locations for free in exchange for maintenance work and upkeep. Anyone who wants to become a volunteer for the camp host must sign on for a one month agreement anytime from May to October. Hosts are required to fulfill at least 28 hours of service work each week during the month.

Landscaping and maintenance workers[edit]

Volunteer Rangers[edit]

After completing 40 hours of volunteer service, people 18 and over can become a part of the Volunteer Ranger Program. The volunteer rangers assist full-time staff with the parks regular programs, operations, and public service. After completing the 40 hours of volunteer service, helpers can choose to take the statewide training throughout Maryland that is required for the volunteer rangers. Additional training is also offered such as CPR knowledge, search and rescue, and other training through the regional level.

Interpretive Program volunteers[edit]

Assateague State Park also offers the opportunity to become more involved with community outreach and educating school groups that come to visit the park. Activities for volunteers range from feeding the animals used for education, staffing workers for exhibits, and assist with the group tours around the park. The volunteers range from all ages including high school students to retirees.[1]

Friends of Assateague State Park (FOASP)[edit]

The Friends of Assateague State Park (FOASP) is a non profiting organization dedicated to the improvement and sustainability of the state park. There is an average of 200 members in FOASP that volunteer each year involving maintenance work, environmental education, and camp hosting. The FOASP participates in service projects that are created to clean up the beach and the land around it. Leave a message for them at 410-641-2120 ext 24.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Maryland Department of Natural Resources - Maryland Park Service". Retrieved 2012-10-24. 

External links[edit]