Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island is a barrier island off the Delmarva Peninsula that’s 37 miles (60 km) long. Maryland owns two-thirds of the island, and Virginia owns the other third. In Maryland, you’ll find Assateague Island National Seashore and Assateague State Park. 

The Virginia section has Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and a one-mile stretch of beach and interpretive facilities managed by the National Park Service (or NPS). It’s best known for its feral horses, pristine beaches, and Assateague Lighthouse.

 Toms Cove is one of the island’s numerous marshes, bays, and coves. Cars can access the island from both Maryland and Virginia, but no road runs the full-length north/south. Read below and get more information about Assateague Island. 

All the Information You Need for Planning an Amazing Vacation to Assateague Island

The Assateague Island National Seashore is open all year. The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge’s hours change every season. Assateague Island doesn’t have vehicle access between its districts. To get to the north or south entrances, you have to return to the mainland.

Assateague summers are usually hot and humid. Mosquitoes, biting flies, gnats and ticks are everywhere from spring through autumn. Wear insect repellent and/or protective clothing. Winters are cold, damp and windy, but it rarely snows. When walking in the sand, you’ll need sturdy hiking shoes and hard-soled water shoes/sandals for wading.

Food And Water Facilities Near Assateague Island

Bring any food, drinks, and water you need. There aren’t many options on the island. Unattended food is invaded by wild horses, gulls, and other wildlife. Keep food in your car or sealed container.

Maryland District

There are water fountains at the Barrier Island Visitor Center and the North Beach Pavilion. During the season, water, drinks, and snacks are available at the Beach Hut at North Beach and Assateague Outfitters on Bayside Drive.

Virginia District

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge has no food access and limited drinking water access options. Chincoteague Island has food and drinks. Bring your own food, drinks, and water.

Safety Near Assateague Island

There might be no cell service in the park. Rangers on patrol, lifeguards, campground hosts, or the ranger station or visitor center staff should be contacted if there’s an emergency. Landlines are available at Visitor Centers during business hours. The Ranger Station has an emergency 911 phone located on the east side near Bayberry Drive.

Visiting Hours 

Assateague Island is open year-round for 24 hours a day. The island is open seven days a week. Thanksgiving and Christmas are closed. 


On the southern side of Route 611, before the Verrazano Bridge entrance to the park, is the Assateague Island Visitor Center. GPS address: 11800 Marsh View Lane, Berlin, Maryland 21811.

Wild Animals near Assateague Island

WILD ANIMALS roam the island freely. Horses tend to frequent the ocean side and beaches more in the developed areas in the summer months because of the biting insects in the marsh areas (campgrounds and parking lots near each beach access).

 In the winter, horses move into the undeveloped forest areas near the bayside to escape the harsh winds and cold. In the off-season, you’re still likely to spot some horses since many bands stay in the developed areas. 

Driving along Bayberry Drive and spotting horses is fine, but stopping to take pictures is against park rules. Rangers can fine you for doing this, especially if you stop traffic.


Where is Assateague Island?

Assateague Island is a barrier island on the eastern coast of the United States, specifically in Maryland and Virginia. Located along the Atlantic coastline, it’s about 10 miles (16 kilometers) east of the Virginia coast and about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of the Maryland-Delaware border. It’s separated from the mainland by Sinepuxent Bay in Maryland and Assateague Channel in Virginia.

When is Assateague open?

Maryland National Seashore is open 24 hours a day, and the visitor center is open 9 to 5. Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is open November through March, 6 am to 6 pm, April and October, 6 am to 8 pm, and May through September, 5 am to 10 pm. Overnight fishing permits aren’t issued to visitors or cars.

May I bring my pet to Assateague?

Pets are permitted on the Maryland Seashore. You must keep your pet on a leash no longer than 6 feet. All backcountry campsites, nature trails, and lifeguard-protected beaches north of the State Park to the Ocean City inlet and at the entire Virginia portion of Assateague Island are pet-free.


Assateague Island is a unique and beautiful island with lots of activities for nature and beach lovers. Wild horses, pristine beaches, and diverse wildlife make it a must-see for anyone visiting the Mid-Atlantic region.

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