Assateague Island National Seashore

Chincoteague ponyAfter spending the afternoon in Chincoteague, we arrived at the Barrier Island Visitor Center at the entrance to the Assateague Island National Seashore just a couple hours before sunset. As we crossed the bridge onto the island, we were excited to find Chincoteague ponies grazing by the road.

We drove along the park road and enjoyed views of the ocean. The park is a barrier island built by the sand and waves.


deerAlong the road we saw small animals called Sika elk. These are an Asian elk released on the island in the 1920s. They are smaller than white-tailed deer and have a white rump. They also have small white spots.

We decided it was time for a walk, so we parked the car and set out along the beach. Along with some interesting shells and rocks, we also discovered the crab shown below right.

Larry taking photos crab

Although clearly wild, we could get close enough to the ponies for some great photographs. Because it was off-season, we were the only ones on the beach watching the ponies graze. It was interesting to watch how the hooves of the horses sank into the sand.

wild ponywild pony

The ponies are actually wild horses. They are the descended from domesticated stock that grazed on the island in the 17th century. They are smaller than other horses, but they are shaggy and sturdy enough for farm work.

wild pony

We could have spent much more time on the island. Sometime we're going to come back and do some hiking in some of the remote areas of the island. Annette would like to spend some time just watching and sketching the ponies.
wild ponywild pony

Boardwalk at Assateague IslandIt was getting late, so we decided to make one more stop. It was close to dusk, so we enjoyed a walk on the Life of the Marsh Nature Trail. The interpretive signs explained about the many invasive species on the island.

We enjoyed a romantic sunset as we finished our walk. Then, spend the evening driving to Washington, D.C.

Sunset at Assateague Island

Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 2/05.