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Assateague Island National Seashore

Outer Atlantic Coast, Maryland

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Assateague Island National Seashore

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  • Wild ponies walking in the marsh on the Virginia side.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • A typical marsh scene on the island on the Virginia side.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • One of multiple small fishing spots along the bay on the Virginia side.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • The visitor center on the Virginia side.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • A walkway over the marsh.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • Families sunbathing on the shores of the bay.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • A couple reading an informational sign.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • A trail through the forest.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • A view of the marshy forest.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • A walkway to the beach on the Maryland side.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • A crowded beach on a hot summer day.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • Crowds watching large waves caused by a storm offshore.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • People carry surfboards and walk along the shore.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • A boogie boarder riding waves.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • A view of the beach looking south on the Maryland side.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • A view looking north on the Maryland side.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • People playing in the surf.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • A woman reading a book in the over-sand vehicle zone.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • Backpackers walking back toward the park entrance.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • Surf fishing in the over-sand vehicle zone. - Assateague Island National Seashore
  • Waiting for the swell to come.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • Ponies patrol the dunes around the visitor center.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • Campsites line the shore at the main beach.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • Enjoying the beach and waiting for sunset.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • A view of beachgoers with Ocean City in the distance.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • A man playing with his dog in the surf.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • Friends sitting around a fire on the beach.- Assateague Island National Seashore
  • A view of the Milky Way, which can be seen with the naked eye on the Maryland side.- Assateague Island National Seashore
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Miles of pristine dunes and beaches. Dark skies at night.
Cons: 
Can be crowded during warmer months. Large population of biting insects.
Region:
Outer Atlantic Coast, MD
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

Assateague Island National Seashore is located off the Delmarva Peninsula and, with over 35 miles of pristine barrier island beaches, marshes, and forest, is sure to have something for everyone.

The park spans two states, Maryland and Virginia, but each state has its own entrance about an hour apart. Crossing state lines within the park is not allowed. The Maryland side is open all hours and all days, whereas the Virginia side closes at night to the public. In addition to Maryland's Assateague Island Campground, backcountry camping is available on the Maryland side as well.

Besides its miles of coast, Assateague is most famous for its herd of wild ponies, often seen on the beach or in the marshes. The origin of these horses is unclear, but it is rumored that they came to the island by way of a Spanish shipwreck during the Colonial era. While these ponies may seem tame, they are wild animals, and not only can they harm you, but they can harm themselves by ingesting your food (which they will do if given the opportunity). Use the same precautions with food as you would in bear country.

Another great thing about the park is its OSV (over-sand vehicle) zone. With the purchase of a special permit and a four-wheel-drive-capable vehicle, you can drive for miles along the shore, allowing for a more secluded and intimate beach experience. There are also quite a few trails displaying the different environments within the island.

Up until the 1960s the island was actually connected to the mainland, and it was slowly being developed with the idea of turning it into a resort. These plans were all abandoned during the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962, and the remaining structures were left to the elements.

Assateague is one of the first areas administered by the National Park Service to actively embrace climate change in its future park management plans.

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