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Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island in Maryland is comprised of 3 public use areas: the Assateague Island National Seashore, the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (which belongs to Virginia) and the Assateague State Park. The island is famous for the “wild Chincoteague ponies”, immortalized in the book Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry, though the “ponies” are really horses quasi-dwarfed by poor nutrition, and they are actually feral, not wild, but that’s just picking nits. It’s still pretty neat that two herds of 150 horses run and breed free on this undeveloped 37-mile stretch of Barrier Island.

There are interesting and challenging outdoors adventures to have on and near Assateague Island. The National Park Service maintains a number and variety of campgrounds along the ocean and bay sides. Backcountry camping is available with a permit, but visitors should be prepared for the sometimes-harsh conditions on Barrier Islands. Hiking the island is a great way to appreciate its wild beauty, and cyclists are permitted on the paved roads along the shore. Hunters can bag waterfowl and deer in designated area, providing they have a license.

The “wild ponies” aren’t the only interesting wildlife on and around Assateague Island; the area is the home of Sika (tiny Asian deer) the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel.