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Accommodations on the island are limited to a state-run campground and two campgrounds and several backcountry campsites run by the National Park Service.

The campground run by Assateague State Park (tel. 410/641-2120, ext. 22; 888/432-2267 for state camping reservations) is open April 1 through October 31. It has 311 sites on the ocean side of the island, with bathhouses (with flush toilets and hot showers), a camp store, and a snack bar. Reservations are accepted up to a year in advance. Sites are on the ocean side of the island and cost $30 to $40 per night.

The National Park Service (tel. 410/641-3030 for information, or 877/444-6777 for reservations) operates oceanside and bayside campgrounds that are slightly more primitive than the state-park facility. Both NPS campgrounds have chemical toilets, drinking water, and cold showers. There are also flush toilets and cold showers at the beach bathhouse. Reservations are recommended from April 15 to October 15 -- and are essential in warm weather. The rest of the year, campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. If possible, reserve a site at the oceanside campground for fewer pesky bugs. The cost is $20 per night from April 15 to October 15, $16 per night the rest of the year. There is no camping on the Virginia side.

In addition, the park has several backcountry or hike-in/paddle-in campsites along the Maryland end of the island. Each site has a chemical toilet and picnic table, but no drinking water. To use these sites, you must pick up a $5 backcountry permit from the ranger station during regular business hours.

Another camping and kayaking alternative is the picturesque Pocomoke River State Park (tel. 410/632-2566), which is about a 45-minute drive from the Virginia or Maryland end of Assateague and is less crowded and more comfortable. It offers 230 improved campsites and 12 mini one-room cabins (some air-conditioned) in two wooded sites along both sides of the unspoiled Pocomoke River. Shad Landing offers a few extras: marina, canoe, kayak, and boat rentals; a nature center; a swimming pool; and hiking and ORV trails. Its 201 campsites are available year-round: $30 for electric, $25 for nonelectric, and $50 for the eight cabins. Across the river, Milburn Landing is smaller, quieter, and open only from April to mid-December. Its 38 campsites cost $25 for electric, $20 for nonelectric; four cabins are $50. To make reservations for May through September, call tel. 888/432-2267, ext. 762, or visit www.dnr.maryland.gov. To get here, take Route 113 south. The park is 20 miles south of Berlin.

Paddling fans, once you see the shady Pocomoke, you're going to want to get out on it. Bring your own boat, rent one for a couple of hours at the park, or sign up for a tour with the Pocomoke River Canoe Company (tel. 410/632-3971; www.atbeach.com/amuse/md/canoe). They're located on the river in nearby Snow Hill.

Where to Stay Nearby -- Prefer a real bed? Ocean City is close, or you can try accommodations in nearby Berlin, about a 15-minute drive from Assateague.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.