Assateague Island has both it's Maryland and Virginia ORV areas open
year round for off road beach recreation. The Maryland portion of Assateague
has an ORV zone 12 miles in length, with a 145 vehicle limit. Each end of
the island limits the maximum number of vehicles which can be on the beach
at any one time. The Virginia portion of the ORV area has several miles open
year round, but does close it's extreme southern region known as "the
hook" from March 15th-September 1st for the nesting Piping Plover which
is an endangered species. The vehicle limit on the remaining 1.5 mile beach
drops to 18 at that of year. If any endangered Piping Plovers decide to nest
on that portion of the off road beach, there are by-pass routes that are set
up to avoid the birds, but the area still remains open for the season. The
145 vehicle limit is reached early on weekends and often goes to a one-off/one-on
The off road permit is good for both the Virginia and Maryland ends of Assateague
Island and there is a $70-$150 annual permit fee (depending on the type of
access desired). There is no weekly or other short term permits. Off road
vehicles must be "street legal"(motorcycles and ATV's are not allowed). You
will need to present your registration card. You need a low pressure tire
gauge ( it's recommenced to let the air out to 15 lbs. or so for the soft
sand). There are air pumps near the off road entrance. A shovel, jack, a board
to support the jack in the sand (12" sq. minimum, 3/4" plywood or 1&1/2" hardwood),
and a tow rope or chain (substantial capacity, 10' minimum length) are also
required. Fines are charged for each piece of missing required equipment.
The permit is available through the mail (request 3 weeks at least in advance).
It also can be obtained in person at the Visitor Centers.
Surf-fishermen may fish all night on the beach in Maryland, which is accessible
24 hours. In Virginia, fisherman must get an overnight fishing permit at the
Visitor Center, since the enterance at the Chincoteague National Wildlife
Refuge is closed from 10pm to 5am during the summer. You must be actively
fishing for you and your vehicle to stay on the beach overnight. On the Maryland
end, you can return to the campground area if you wish to sleep. To reserve
a campsite in the Assateague National Seashore from May 15 through October
15, call 1-800-365-2267.