If you are looking for tips as far as camping at Assateague State Park, keep an eye out in this post for italics! I will have Assateague Tips spread throughout.
So when I started this blog, I was overwhelmed with ideas for camping trips. Man, were they going to be awesome! I had a tent, so that's half the battle right there, right? I was all, "I LOVE CAMPING."
Without ever actually going camping. Ever. Not even sleep-away camp. Once I slept in a tent in my friend's backyard. But I didn't have to put it up. I just ran around and played man hunt until it was time to go to sleep. What if I had all of these ideas and adventures in my head, but I hated camping? It's totally plausible.
But no worries. This past weekend, I went on my first camping trip ever (!) and didn't come to the realization that I hate camping (thank goodness). But I did learn a couple of things!
Camping Lessons From Assateague State Park
My Tent is Awesome
I know everybody probably says this about their first love tent. But I love it. We have The North Face Talus 2 tent. Although I don't know how anybody could possibly look at the instruction sheet and figure out what it means, the actual tent is awesome. And it is actually incredibly easy to put up. It was super rainy and windy one night, but we weren't bothered in the least. Go, tent!
Assateague Tip: HOLY. MOLY. It is windy. Know where your campsite is! Ours wasn't in loose sand, so we were okay without sand stakes or extra long stakes. But some of the campsites are a little different, and we saw tents being blown over like nobody's business.
Assateague Tip: Each campsite comes with a picnic table. Birds seem to poop directly all over them. So bring a picnic blanket or tablecloth so you can eat/play cards/relax somewhere besides your tent. Or just sit on dry bird poop. No judgment.
Assateague State Park > Assateague National Park
This is my own humble opinion, of course. I didn't actually camp at the national park, so maybe I am not being fair. But I did ride around both parks and there were SO.MANY.BUGS. at the national park. Maybe for normal people, this is not an issue. However, I now have 20 (no exaggeration) bug bites on my legs. So this is very important to me. I also just liked the arrangement of the camp sites more, I suppose.
Assateague Tip: BRING YOUR BIKES! If you are staying in the State Park, it is absolutely free to ride (or walk) into the National Park. Then you can take a walk on some of the nature trails, rent a canoe, etc. over there without actually paying the entrance fee. And there are bike paths! Just watch out for the horse poop.
Future plans for Assateague? The National side does have backcountry campsites that you can paddle to. I am shooting to do it in the Fall, because I hear the bugs are terrible in the summertime.
Fire is Important!
No duh, right?
So we brought hot dogs and s'mores ingredients to eat over the fire. We were not trying to get fancy on our first trip. While I had never actually made a campfire, I studied and studied leading up to the trip. I was confident that we could do it. Until it got really windy and we couldn't actually get the firewood to actually be the thing burning. WHAT? How can that possibly be?? We had the fire going long enough to cook 2 hot dogs and 1 s'more (really, one) each before it just died. So at least we didn't go hungry.
But, uh. Yeah. That needs to change.
Assateague Tip: There are places to get firewood once you get on the island, but you can't bring it from home. You can always refill at the ranger station. They have packs of kindling as well. If I am not mistaken, your first bag (at the ranger station, anyway) is around $5 for firewood and $2 for kindling. After that, all bags are cheaper.
Assateague Tip: If you don't want to cook over a campfire, Ocean City, Maryland is not a far drive at all. Or you can use those fancy bikes! Either way, OCMD has approximately one bazillion restaurants to pick from. And also Fisher's Popcorn. So you won't go hungry!
Beach = LOVE. Camping = LOVE. Beach Camping?
I love going to the beach. Love it. I also loved making attempting to make a campfire. Falling asleep and waking up in a tent was awesome. Turning off our electronics for most of the weekend was also so great. So I love both the beach and camping. I'm not 1000% convinced I love beach camping. You know how you feel after a day at the beach. And long-haired individuals, you know how much sand is in that mane of yours. ESPECIALLY if it is windy (it is). And no matter how hard you try, you're still sandy.
And then you go to sleep in a tent. And regardless of how much you brushed off, washed off, etc. etc. THERE IS STILL SAND. And now it's in your sleeping bag. I guess this is not a big issue. But I just don't know if it's up my alley. If anyone has beach camping tips, I'd love to hear them!
Assateague Tip: BRING A BROOM. You will be so much happier if you can get the sand out of your tent easily. Also, the bathrooms (at least at Assateague State Park) are way nicer than I expected. And they do have showers. So if this absolutely bothers you, bring your stuff for a shower!
One thing I know is for certain: I want to go camping again ASAP!
Have you ever been to Assateague State Park? Do you like beach camping? Share your tips in the comments below!