The Assateague Island National Seashore is a magical place where you can share gorgeous sandy beaches with the world's most famous wild ponies and explore the delights of salt marshes, coastal bays and forests, and a terrain constantly changing with the whims of the wind and ocean waves. BBOnline is happy to show you around this nationally treasured location.
Assateague Island National Seashore
7206 National Seashore Ln Berlin
Where Wild Horses Roam Free
The beautiful wild horses of Assateague are world famous. It is said that a shipwreck off the Virginia coast brought these animals to the barrier island, but it could well be that they were introduced here by mainland owners. These horses are tough, surviving stormy weather, scorching heat, mosquitoes and poor quality sustenance. You'll find them in bands of two to twelve. Although they may seem tame, sharing the beach with you or sticking their faces through your car window, it's best to keep your distance or you may end up with a kick or a bite. Even worse, your petting and feeding could lead to the animals getting sick or being killed by vehicles on the roads.
Every year in July, during the event known as "Pony Penning," the horses are rounded up and swum to the neighboring Chincoteage Island. Thousands of visitors attend this unique event. Check out the National Park Visitor Center for exhibits on the history and wildlife of the island, including the horses; don't forget the mosquito repellant when you head here from your comfortable Snow Hill Bed and Breakfast.
The Stunning Beaches of Assateague Island National Seashore
The island has more than 37 miles of beaches, considered as some of the best on the East Coast. If you're in time for low tide, you can walk on the beach for quite a distance in just five feet of warm water perfect for swimming and wading. The sand is clean, fine and soft; very relaxing to lie on. Collect seashells and watch the shorebirds. Do some kayaking or canoeing. Some areas of the beach have lifeguards on duty, so pick those for swimming, because the current can be strong.
The Assateague Island National Seashore is a refuge for migrating and resident birds. There are more than 320 species of birds to be spotted here. During spring, you can see a large number of birds including migrating shore birds, bald eagles and warblers and in the fall. Assateague becomes a haven for migrating waterfowl. Along the waterways, you can spot herons, terns, egrets, sandpipers and many more species.
There are boat cruises that will take you birdwatching, pony watching and even dolphin watching. Try the Pony Express Nature Cruise led by Captain Mark, whose grandfather starred in the movie "Misty" based on the famous children's book "Misty of Chincoteague." A native of Chincoteague and former Park Ranger, he knows the area like the back of his hand. He will show you the secluded areas where the ponies and other wildlife live. The Assateague Island National Seashore is certainly worth the short drive from your cozy Snow Hill Inn.