Sunday, June 5, 2011

Assateague Island National Seashore

If you are planning a vacation to Chincoteague Island, you will want to make sure that you include a few day trips to the Assateague Island National Seashore.  Assateague Island is an island located between Ocean City, MD and Chincoteague, Va.  It is famous for its wild ponies and magnificent beauty.
Assateague is a protected seashore and is managed by national park agencies.  There are wetlands, beaches, dunes, wildlife and marsh islands that are all protected and available for public enjoyment and recreation.
The area became protected in 1962 to help maintain its natural beauty and environment.  The island is essential for many migrating shorebirds.  You can find more than 320 bird species on Assateague island.  Some of the best times to spot migrating birds is during the spring or fall seasons.  If you are interested, the staff on the refuge will give you a list to help you spot your favorite birds.

Willet, Virginia

Photo by intellidryad

American Oystercatcher, Virginia
Photo by Dave Govoni (Va bene!)

One of the most popular activities for visitors to the area is to try and spot some wild ponies.  There are 2 herds of ponies that are wild that call this island their home.  The ponies are small and kind of shaggy, but have lived on Assateague Island for years.  It is actually estimated that the ponies have been living on the island for 300 to maybe even 400 years.  Caution, even though the ponies look like tame horses, they are wild.  Visitors are asked to not give the ponies food.  If you want to have the best chances of viewing the ponies, there are boat tours that will provide you with optimal viewing.
Assateague Lighthouse
Photo by rbasallote

Lighthouse at night
Photo by withvengeance86

Nothing completes a trip to the beach like a visit to a lighthouse.  The Assateague Lighthouse is no exception.  The lighthouse was built in 1867 and is 142 foot high.  It continues to be a functioning lighthouse on the Atlantic Coast.  Tours are available for you to view the lighthouse.
If you are interested in learning about the island and the wildlife that is present, you may want to consider taking a wildlife tour.  During the months of April through November, there are tour buses with guides that will take you on a 15 mile journey throughout the island.  The tours are considered educational, but will also provide you with entertainment.
Ghost Crab
Photo by Avelino Maestas

During the summer months, the visitor’s center, on the island offers visitors presentations, tours, and games.  You can explore the island with a guide at your side.  Guides can take you crabbing, fishing, hiking, bird watching, and can teach you all about the history of Assateague Island.
Assateague Island offers education, beauty, relaxation, and a trip back to nature.  With its preserved beauty and peaceful surroundings, you will surely leave the island refreshed and at peace.  If you are lucky, you can spot the famous wild ponies, and also come home with a seafood dinner of fresh fish and hearty crabs.  For kids young and old, Assateague will provide you with a one of a kind experience.  You will surely want to return year after year.

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