Assateague Island National Seashore
Assateague Island National Seashore
Assateague Island Visitor Services
Assateague Wild Horses

Assateague Island National Seashore is located close to Chincoteague Island, Virginia and Ocean City, Maryland. Assateague contains over 37 miles of pristine beach. More than 300 wild ponies wander the beaches, inland pine forest, and salt marshes. Assateague became a National Park in 1965 and together with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuge and State Park, the land and water boundaries of Assateague Island total over 48,000 acres in Maryland & Virginia.
Assateague ponies

Assateague Island is a vital resting and feeding area for a large variety of birds. The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is located on Assateague Island and is one of the most popular birding destinations in the United States. Assateague bird watchers enjoy the island's wealth of over 300 species of migratory and resident birds. Assateague is an essential part of the Atlantic flyway; prime habitat for thousands of waterfowl and other birds with migration instincts that carry them north and south annually.

Visitors can enjoy the world famous "wild horses" at Assateague. The "wildlife tour" or kayaking is a great way to see much of the refuge and its wildlife by boat or kayak. This voyage is often the best way to see peregrine falcons, sandpipers, egrets, osprey, terns, gulls, waterfowl, marine-life, and (especially) wild ponies. Wild ponies and other wildlife are often encountered when visitors join the boat tour along the extensive inland waters of Assateague Island.

Wildlife Photos - Art Prints & Gifts

Some people believe that the wild ponies of Assateague arrived on Assateague Island when a Spanish galleon cargo ship (with a cargo of horses) sank off the coast and the horses swam to shore. Others believe the wild horses arrived there via early colonial settlers. Recently in 1997, a Spanish shipwreck was discovered off Assateague Island, which lends credit to the first theory. In any event, the ponies have become well adapted to the seashore ecosystem. Wild horses feed on saltmarsh cordgrass, dune grasses, bayberry twigs, rosehips & persimmons.

Many recreational opportunities on Assateague Island exist, including four wheel driving on the beach, seashell collecting along seldom traveled sands, clamming, swimming, surf fishing, beach hiking and more. Ocean City, Maryland or Chincoteague Island, Virginia are only 1/4 mile away from Assateague Island (on either end). Ocean City & Chincoteague have convenient travel accommodations with lodging, restaurants, beach supplies and activities.

Visit Assateague Maryland and Ocean City or drive just one hour south to the Virginia end of Assateague Island. Some say Virginia is the best side because it has about 70 newborn ponies on that end each summer, unspoiled beaches, a lighthouse and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Refuge. Close by is Chincoteague Island (home of the pony swim). Chincoteague is known for its great view of the Assateague Lighthouse. Chincoteague has lodging, seafood, fantastic bird watching and marine eco-tourism - the latter due to its close proximity to Assateague and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Refuge.

A visit to Assateague is an experience you will treasure for many years. A destination that offers something for everyone. Recreational opportunities, cultural history, natural attractions, places to stay and eat are nearby at Ocean City, Maryland and Chincoteague Island, Virginia. Assateague Island is an iconic place to visit. The National Park and Wildlife Refuge contain an astounding variety of activities with diversity that staggers the imagination and makes your visit an unforgettable vacation.

• Visit the park
• Wildlife
• Lighthouse
• Bird Watching
• Map
• Fishing
• Pony Swim
Park Hours:
Refuge hours in Virginia
• January-March: 6AM-6PM
• April: 6AM-8PM
• May-September: 5AM-10PM
• October 6AM-8PM
• November-December: 6AM-6PM
Park hours in Maryland
• Open year round, 24 hours a day. Parking on the beach at night is permitted only for those who are actively engaged in recreation.
Assateague Explorer pony watching cruises
Assateague Explorer Pony Watching Cruises

Entrance Fees:
• Foot/Bicycle ... No Fee
• 1-day Vehicle Pass... $10.00
• 7-day Vehicle Pass... $25.00
•Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Annual Pass ... $45.00
• USFWS Migratory Waterfowl Duck Stamp ($25) plus Beach Parking Fee ($20) ... $45.00
• Foot/Bicycle ... No Fee
• 7-day Motorcycle Pass... $20.00
• 7-day Vehicle Pass... $25.00
• 7-day Individual Pass... $15.00
• Annual Vehicle Pass ... $45.00
- Entrance passes may be used in both Maryland and Virginia districts
Other available passes
America the Beautiful-National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Pass (1 year vehicle pass)... $80.00
America the Beautiful-National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass (62 years & older) ... $80.00 (lifetime) or $20 (annual)
America the Beautiful-National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Access Pass (lifetime pass for permanent disability, 1 year pass for military)... Free

Visitor Center
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
(757) 336-6122
Tom's Cove Visitor Center
(757) 336-6577
Barrier Island Visitor Center
(410) 641-1441

Assateague Island Homepage
Terns at Assateague
Click here for Chincoteague, Virginia
Click here for Ocean City
Nearby lodging, restaurants and family fun.