“37 mile long island along the coasts of Maryland and Virginia”
What's more enchanting than camping on the beach, watching the stars as you listen to the waves and seeing the sun rise over the water? Doing all that, but with beautiful wild ponies as your campsite neighbors (bad pun very much intended). At Assateague Island National Seashore, this storybook scenario can come true! As if things couldn't seem any more perfect, consider the fact that the park only even exists by a stroke of luck-- originally, the land was going to be developed into a resort community: Ocean Beach, Maryland. But, a severe storm came along and flattened the slowly progressing development. Rather than deal with the possibility of deadly storms randomly ripping through the resort island, the development firm sold the land to the government, who turned it over to the National Parks Service. While the park has gorgeous white sand beaches and ocean water that's perfect for swimming, the island is best known for its herds of wild Chincoteague ponies that roam the beaches. There's a story that the wild ponies that inhabit the island are the descendants of a herd of ponies who survived a shipwreck, but it's more likely that local citizens were corralling their ponies on the island to avoid paying taxes on fences on the mainland, and these ponies are descended from those. The legenary ponies attract plenty of tourists, especially in July when a fundraiser is held where the ponies are herded, swim to Chincoteague Island, and then auctioned off as a fundraiser. The ponies that are auctioned off are corralled and cared for by the local volunteer fire department, but there's a herd that lives on the Maryland side of the park that's treated completely as wildlife and left alone to roam the shores. At the park, you can swim, hike, fish, or just chill out on the sand, and at night, you can camp on the beach, right alongside the wild ponies. They're incredibly beautiful to watch, especially when you realize how few wild horses are left in this country, but definitely make sure to give them some space. They're feral, and since they've had to adapt to the harsh conditions of the beach (little food, storms, heat, and mosquitos, to name a few) they're surprisingly tough. As long as you aren't bothering them, they won't bother you!
Assateague Island is stunning. Every inch has a view.
It's also completely drivable, which is a bonus. They have scenic stops where you can park, and get out to hike a trail, or walk along the beach.
Wild horses also live on the Island.
I camped there a few years back, went to the bathroom after dark, walk into a 2 foot whole and ripped my ankle to shreds, come to find out a women just a few days before this another women fell into the same hole and broke her ankle..told the office about it and they did not even care, not even sure if they even went to fill the hole in..had to have 2 surgery's last year to finally fix the damage..Not a good vacation at all
Wild horses and camping at the beach or bayside...what a perfect combination! The beach is wide and long. The island is always interesting because of the wild horses and their antics.
Go for a long walk on the beach and see wild horses playing in the ocean. The seashore is also a wildlife refuge for wild ponies, and you can camp on the beach with them!
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Assateague Island National Seashore (Maryland)
- Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm
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