Description - Constant reshaping mirrors the restless origin of Assateague Island. Steady winds continue moving trillions of sand grains, each a bit of eroded ancient Appalachian Mountains. Occasional storms drive waves and sands so forcefully that beach and shoreline change dramatically. But Assateague's summer mostly means the lure of beaches and mild surf where shorebirds trace the lapping waves back down the beach. Behind the dunes, the island's forests and bayside marshes invite exploration. Now and then a wild horse wanders into view.
Copyright: - US National Park Service
Assateague Island National Seashore
- Assateague Island National Seashore is a windswept barrier island that offers many opportunities for seashore recreation and nature study. The site is famous for herds of wild horses that roam the island. The horses share the beach and bay habitats with a host of other mammals and nearly 300 species of birds. Thirty-seven miles long, the island covers over 18,000 acres in the states of Maryland and Virginia. The National Seashore actually consists of three major public areas: Assateague Island National Seashore, managed by the National Park Service; Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Assateague State Park, managed by Maryland's Department of Natural Resources. Together, these agencies hold in trust a priceless seashore heritage of wildlands, wildlife, and outdoor recreation.
Recreation - Water-oriented activities are most popular at Assateague Island. Wildlife viewing, ocean swimming, camping, bay side canoeing, crabbing, clamming, nature walks, hunting, surf-fishing and off-road vehicle use are all accessible in the park. There are three visitor centers for Assateague Island: Barrier Island Visitor Center (MD), Toms Cove Visitor Center (VA) and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center (VA).
In Maryland, scenic driving is available on four miles of paved road. A bike path lies adjacent to the road. A self-guided trail titled 'Life of Assateague' interprets three different barrier island habitats. In Virginia, facilities include five miles of paved roads and a bike path. Two short nature trails explore natural habitats and a third leads to the base of the Assateague Lighthouse.
Camping is the only overnight opportunity on the island. All state and national campgrounds are located in the Maryland portion of the park. National seashore backpack or canoe-in backcountry camping is also located in Maryland.
Climate - Maryland has four distinct seasons with spring and fall being particularly pleasant with low humidity and mild temperatures. The average January temperature ranges between 30 and 34 degrees F (-1 to 1 C) with July averages ranging between 74 degrees F and 80 degrees F. Typically, coastal temperatures are slightly warmer then the western Appalachian Plateau area. Travelers should be aware that winters can become miserably cold and summers can be hazy, hot and humid with afternoon thundershowers.
Assateague Island National Seashore covers an area of 37 miles and 18,000 acres in southeastern Maryland and northeastern Virginia. The site lies east of Chinocoteague Bay on a barrier island in the Atlantic Ocean.