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Check out Maryland’s most popular State Park

By Johnny Molloy • Jun 24, 2018 at 6:00 AM

If you like sandy open beaches and you like beach camping, come to Assateague Island State Park, located near Berlin, Maryland. This is what is known as a camping park. The campground is a primary draw, along with the beach, of course. Despite heavy visitation, the campground, beach and park facilities are in great shape and well maintained. Simply put, Maryland takes pride in its most well-liked state park, located along the Atlantic Ocean. This two-mile wide park is sandwiched within the much larger Assateague Island National Seashore, which runs for miles on either side of the park. The camping area covers a large portion of the state park property, with its 350 campsites just behind sand dunes. This state park is popular, filling daily from mid-June through August, and on September weekends. Reservations are highly recommended. On your approach to Assateague Island you will leave the mainland and take a bridge over Sinepuxent Bay, which is an arm of Chincoteague Bay. Once on Assateague Island, soon enter the state park. Here, you reach the developed park facilities, which make it easy for ocean lovers to enjoy the state park. The main beachside bathhouse is much more than just a bathhouse. It has outdoor showers, indoor showers, a camp store and snack bar. A boardwalk leads over the dunes from the bathhouse to reach the beach. Here, visitors can enjoy 2 miles of state park beach that runs along the Atlantic Ocean. The beach here is light tan sand and is wide enough to accommodate many a visitor. Assateague Island is known for its wild ponies, but these ponies are descendants of domesticated ponies, that likely came from mainland farmers who brought them to the island to avoid the taxing of livestock. These horses are smaller than average. Life on the island is harsh. The pony’s poor diet of salt marsh cord grass and other salty vegetation that causes them to drink twice as much water as other horses, resulting in a stocky, bloated appearance. Despite urgings from state and national park officials, visitors continue to feed the ponies. When this happens they can become a nuisance in the campground, foraging through leftover trash, nosing into coolers and leaving a mess. Also, this increases the odds of getting hit by cars. Humans can get hurt, too. Every year, people get bitten or kicked by the ponies. The state park is strict about not feeding the ponies and won’t hesitate to fine offenders. So keep the ponies as wild as possible by not feeding them. Warnings aside, the ponies bring in visitors to the park. Everybody wants a picture of the ponies. But the beach is even bigger draw. It is less crowded out here on Assateague Island than the beaches of nearby Ocean City. However, visitors will use the park to visit Ocean City and come back here in the evening. Kayaking the bay side of the island is popular on calm days. Bicycling is big on Assateague. You can pedal the state park roads, which are very level. But most of all, this is a camping park, so don’t be surprised if your camping neighbor makes a daily commute between their campsite and the beach, and using the balance of their time for rest and relaxation.

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