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Assateague Island National Seashore


Assateague Island sign in the late evening

Assateague Island is a 37-mile (60 km) long barrier island located off the eastern coast of the United States. The island is divided between two states: Maryland to the north and Virginia to the south. It is famous for its picturesque landscapes, which include pristine sandy beaches, coastal bays, salt marshes, and maritime forests. The island is home to the Assateague Island National Seashore, the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, and the Assateague State Park (in Maryland).

Wild Horses

One of the most well-known features of Assateague Island is its population of wild horses, also known as the Assateague horses or the Chincoteague ponies. The origin of these horses is uncertain, but they have lived on the island for centuries. Local folklore suggests that the horses are descendants of survivors from a shipwrecked Spanish galleon, while another theory proposes that they were brought to the island by early settlers.

Assateague Island's Most Famous Horse - Chip!
Chip: Assateague Island's Most Infamous Horse! This was only a few weeks before he was removed from the island. Glad we got to see this crazy dude.   

Chip was removed from the park in 2022 due to increased aggression towards guests, park staff, and other island mates. It is estimated that almost half of all aggression events were a result of Chip. He's living a more laid back life on a ranch in Texas now. It is thought that Chip had become "food-conditioned". Food conditioning happens when an animal begins to rely on humans for food and lose their fear of approaching humans as a result, and may act aggressively during the encounter. You wouldn't feed a bear, don't feed the horses either! 
Sometimes people leave food out on the beach. The horses will find it! I've seen horses rummaging through people's beach camp while they were playing in the ocean, blissfully unaware that their cheetos were being stolen.


The island offers a variety of recreational activities, including hiking, birdwatching, kayaking, surfing, and camping. Visitors can also participate in guided tours to learn about the island's unique ecosystems and its diverse flora and fauna. The annual Pony Swim and auction, which takes place on the last Wednesday and Thursday of July, is a popular event where the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company rounds up the wild horses on Assateague and swims them across the channel to Chincoteague Island. Some of the young foals are then auctioned off to help control the population and raise funds for the fire department

Life of the Marsh Assateague
I believe this was Life of the Marsh trail at Assateague. Assateague is so much more than just a beach!

Assateague Island Roadside Horse
This is not Chip. Presumably much nicer and gentler.

I remember when we always used to visit Ocean City, MD as a kid. I wanted nothing more to sit and stay in that exact area. I loved OCMD. The notion of potentially going anywhere else, like Assateague was offensive to my child brain. Now as an adult, I want nothing more than to stay on Assateague and escape the bustle and insanity that OCMD becomes.

Assateague Island

Assateague Island nearing sunset
Assateague Island nearing sunset at Old Ferry Landing

Assateague Island Near Sunset
Nearing sunset on Assateague


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