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YOU can help protect your national parks!

Help us reach our $401,000 goal by 12/31 so we can start 2015 strong defending them.

The national parks are yours.

Make your year-end, tax-deductible contribution to protect them today!

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Photo: National Park Service

Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island is a narrow strip of sand – in most places not more than a mile or two wide – that lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia. The entire island is publicly-owned: the northern half as Assateague Island National Seashore and Assateague State Park, and the southern half as Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. No roads connect the two halves, but there’s an abundance of things to do and see whether you decide to enter from Maryland or Virginia!

—Laura Connors, NPCA

Laura Recommends

  1. View (from a safe distance, please!) the wild ponies that inspired Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague.  Herds can be seen from the Maryland or Virginia entrances. And for fans of the book, there’s a monument to Henry and Misty on Chincoteague Island not too far from the Virginia entrance to the National Wildlife Refuge.
  2. Go for a stroll. There are several short and easy trails whether you enter the island from Maryland or Virginia. Interpretive markers along the way describe barrier island geology and the animals and plants that make this place home.
  3. Pitch a tent. The Maryland side of the island has several great campgrounds that can accommodate anything from tents to RVs. If you like getting off the beaten trail, backcountry camping is also available. Just make sure to remember the bug spray!
  4. Watch the waves and soak up the sun. As a Virginia native, I may be biased, but I think Assateague Island offers some of the most beautiful sandy beaches you’ll see anywhere!
  5. Get out the binoculars. Assateague Island offers up some truly fantastic birding. Visit in the winter for huge flocks of snow geese and other wintering waterfowl, or in the summer for a wide variety of shorebirds.  It’s on the Atlantic Flyway, so spring and fall are busy for the birds, too.
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Threats

According to NPCA's Center for State of the Parks assessment in 2007, key problems at Assateague include:

  • Contamination of bayside waters from nutrient-laden runoff from agriculture and residential development on the mainland;
  • Overgrazing by non-native feral horses and sika deer, which disrupts fragile island soils, interferes with dune formation, and reduces habitat for native species; and,
  • Heavy demand for over-sand vehicle (OSV) use, which harms Assateague’s beach habitats for both resident and migratory wildlife.

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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

justin

March 18, 2012

Bmason, A fox is NOT a marsupial. You must be thinking of an oppossum! hahah

Tmcintire

November 10, 2011

I just got back from this beautiful park! The best time to go is really after Labor Day. Less people and no mosquitoes! And hardly any traffic on the island roads--something the ponies appreciated, I'm sure!

Bmason

November 10, 2011

As a native of the West Coast, Assateague held several firsts for me: wild horses & ponies on the beach, and incredible sunrises over the ocean! We backcountry camped and saw a red fox (the only marsupial in North America!), toasted s'mores & enjoyed great sunsets & sunrises from our oceanside camp site.

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