Assateague Island National Seashore
Assateague Island National Seashore
Assateague Island Visitor Services
Assateague Beach

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 system.

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.

Assateague Island Map


Assateague Island Home Page
Beach Permits for 4 wheel drive:
Permits may be obtained at the Toms Cove Visitor Center in Virginia and at the Sinepuxent Ranger Station in Maryland. Permits may also be purchased by mail. Call (410) 641-3030 for an application.