Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island National Seashore

Quick Facts

Assateague Island National Seashore

Maryland

(410) 641-1441

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Storm tossed seas, as well as gentle breezes shape Assateague Island's National Shoreline. This barrier island is a tale of constant movement and change. The bands of wild horses freely roam amongst plants and native animals that have adapted to a life of sand, salt and wind on the island. Special thickened leaves and odd shapes reveal the plant world's successful struggle here. Ghost crabs bury themselves in the cool beach sand and tree swallows plucking bayberries on their southward migration offer glimpses of the animal world's connection to Assateague. Human struggles are intertwined with this island at the ocean's edge. Gallant surf rescues by the US Life-Saving Service and dashed dreams of a summer beach resort are but a few of the stories told at the National Seashore. Marine and terrestrial life functioning in concert offer a closer look at a natural and cultural world shaped by beyond what is known.

Map of Assateague Island

Latitude, Longitude: 38.319465, -75.100000

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Activities

  • Boating

    Canoes and kayaks may be launched from designated areas on Assateague. Careful consideration should be given to weather conditions and tidal currents. Rentals are available seasonally in Maryland.

  • Bicycling

    Maryland: Cyclists may travel to Assateague over a bicycle-pedestrian bridge and follow a paved bike path along Bayberry Drive through 4 miles of island habitat.

    Virginia: A paved path leads bicycles from Chincoteague to Assateague. Enjoy these paths, too! Wildlife Loop - 3.25-mile loop Woodland Trail - 1.5-mile loop Swan Cove Trail - 1/2 mile Black Duck Marsh Trail - 1 mile

  • Camping

    Camping is available only in the Maryland district of Assateague Island. Campers are reminded to bring firewood, sunscreen, insect repellent, screen tents for shade and insect protection, and long tent stakes to anchor tents in the sand and wind.

  • Fishing

    Shell fishing: Crabbing and clamming are great ways to discover the bays behind Assateague and sample some local seafood.

    Surf Fishing: Surf fishing has been a popular recreational activity for generations. With a few basic tips on seasons, conditions, equipment, species and regulations, anglers can have an enjoyable experience and create a few memories.

  • Hiking

    Assateague Island has a variety of paved and unpaved trails open for hiking. There are also 37 miles of beach to wander.

  • Horseback Riding

    In the summer and early fall, horseback riding is not permitted in the Maryland portion of Assateague Island National Seashore due to the presence of biting insects known to spread disease, including Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), and West Nile Virus (WNV). Day use horseback riding is permitted each year from October 9 through May 14. During this period, there is much danger for the spread of insect borne disease. While the Seashore cannot guarantee it, visitors must decide for themselves whether the level of risk is acceptable.

    Horseback riding is limited to the beach in the Over Sand Vehicle (OSV) zone located 1.5-miles south of the ranger station. The stretch of beach between the ranger station and the beginning of the OSV zone is to be used only as a corridor for entrance and exit by day use riders. In the OSV Zone, riding is allowed in all areas authorized for public OSV travel. Riders must stay on the ocean side of the white posts. Please take care to avoid visitors engaged in other recreational activities such as hiking, fishing or sunbathing. The only dune crossing riders may use is the sand road access leading to and from the ranger station. Riders may not access areas posted for authorized vehicles, backcountry campsites, the back trail behind the dunes, paved roads, public boardwalks or any other unauthorized areas.

    Horseback riding is permitted in the Over Sand Vehicle Zone in the Virginia district of Assateague Island. This area is subject to intermittent closures due to migratory bird nesting. Please refer to the Virginia District Horseback Riding map for details. In the OSV zone, riding is permitted in all areas authorized for public OSV travel. Riders must stay on the ocean side of the black & white posts. Please take care to avoid visitors engaged in other recreational activities such as hiking, fishing or sunbathing. Riders may not access areas posted for authorized vehicles, trails, public boardwalks or any other unauthorized area. Parking with horses is authorized in parking lot #4. Bird nesting activities may require more restrictive, interim closures. For closure updates, please call the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge or Toms Cove Visitor Center.

  • Hunting

    Hunting is permitted at the seashore in designated areas. Check with the park office for details on regulations and areas open for hunting.

  • Picnicking

    Picnicking is located in various areas throughout the park.

  • Water Sports

    During the summer, lifeguard protected beaches are provided in both Maryland and Virginia districts. Surfing, surf fishing, mats and floats are allowed outside the life-guarded areas.

Park Partners

Assateague Island Alliance

The Assateague Island Alliance was created to support the preservation, education, stewardship, and recreational opportunities of the National Seashore. The Assateague Island Alliance conducts fund raising activities, writes grants, sponsors events, and creates sales items for the internet and an island store. They assist with educational programming and publications. Profits from these activities go to the development of educational exhibits and publications, restoration and preservation of historic structures, natural resource monitoring programs and projects, capital improvements and enhance recreational opportunities.

(410) 629-6095

Directions

Driving

There are two entrances to Assateague Island National Seashore. Assateague's north entrance is at the end of Route 611, eight miles south of Ocean City, MD. The south entrance is at the end of Route 175, two miles from Chincoteague, VA. There is no vehicle access between the two entrances on Assateague Island. Vehicles must return to the mainland to access either the north or south entrance.

Flying

The closest airports are Ocean City Municipal Airport and Salisbury-Wicomico County Regional Airport.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(410) 641-1441

Campground reservations

(410) 641-3030

Links