After exploring Assateague Island, the NASA Visitor Center, and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (yes, we did all of this in one day; we are crazy vacationers), we continued south down the Delmarva peninsula to our campground for the night at Kiptopeke State Park. This was a nice campground and our site was extremely spacious; my only complaint is in regards to the person who threw up in the middle of the bathroom floor, but obviously that wasn’t the campground’s fault.
We arrived at Kiptopeke State Park knowing nothing about it. It was simply the most conveniently-located place to camp that would allow us to make it all the way to South Carolina the next day. So it was a nice surprise when we realized the Chesapeake Bay was just a 10-minute walk away. We set up camp, ate dinner, and then walked down to the beach just in time to watch a colorful sunset while soaking our feet in the surprisingly warm water of the bay.
Kiptopeke is the Accawmack Indian word for “Big Water” and as we stood on the sand gazing out at the setting sun, it was easy to see why. From our vantage point, we couldn’t even tell that we weren’t looking out over the open ocean.
There was also a collection of informational signs on the beach explaining the history of the Kiptopeke region. It’s a largely rural area that was first explored in 1608, then became a ferry port, but is no longer used as such because a road now connects the peninsula to the mainland. A couple hundred yards off the coast is the only remnant of the ferry port: a line of nine concrete ships that were sunk in the bay as a breakwater.
These ships, dubbed the “Concrete Fleet,” are from the first batch of 24 concrete ships built for the US Maritime Commission in 1942. Apparently there was a steel shortage at the time due to WWII, necessitating the use of concrete. I personally didn’t know concrete ships were a thing and I don’t understand how 5,000 tons of concrete can possibly float. Then again, we established last week that physics has never been my strong suit.
Anyway, we were up early the next morning and on the road to South Carolina, so our time at Kiptopeke State Park was brief.
On our way off the peninsula, we drove a 17-mile (27 km) bridge-tunnel across the Chesapeake Bay, which was a cool experience. Once back on the mainland, we continued south, stopping for brunch with one of my best friends in Greenville, NC. And then we were back on the road… driving and driving and driving some more. This was a long day.
At long last, we arrived in Lady’s Island, South Carolina at the house of my aunt and uncle. My other aunt and uncle had driven down to meet us, and we were excited to spend a few days catching up with family – some of whom I hadn’t seen in years! We were greeted with hugs, a cute dog, and some delicious food before meandering down to the docks to watch the South Carolina sunset.
Up next: boats and beaches!
The Important Stuff:
- Getting there: Kiptopeke State Park is located just off Highway 13 near the town of Cape Charles on the inland coast of the Delmarva Peninsula
- Fees and passes: entry into the state park is $5/day (waived if spending the night)
- Camping: Kiptopeke offers a lodge, cabins, yurts, and camping; we opted for camping (130 sites, $24/night for residents or $28/night for non-residents, reservations accepted but first-come-first-serve sites also available)
- Hiking: there are many short trails from the campground down to the beach but this is more of a water-recreation focused park
- Other: even though the bridge-tunnel toll is $14, it saved us a lot of time (and also about $9 worth of tolls on I-95, so the extra cost was really only $5)