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Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island National Seashore

7206 National Seashore Lane
Berlin, MD 21811

Maryland District Visitor Information
(410) 641-1441
Virginia District Visitor Information
(757) 336-6577

Explore Assateague Island!

Life on the Edge

Want to live on the edge? Visit a place recreated each day by ocean wind and waves. Life on Assateague Island has adapted to an existence on the move. Explore sandy beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests and coastal bays. Rest, relax, recreate and enjoy some time on the edge of the continent.

Discover the Possibilities at Assateague

First-time visitors should stop at the visitor centers to see exhibits and obtain information about the many recreational activities and natural features in the seashore. Seasonally, a wide variety of guided programs can be enjoyed to enhance your visit.

Swimming and Surfing
During the summer, lifeguard protected beaches are provided in both Maryland and Virginia districts. Surfing, surf fishing, mats and floats are allowed outside the lifeguarded areas.

Shell Collecting
Limit collecting to a gallon or less of unoccupied shells to ensure a supply for beach dwelling organisms.

A great way to explore the island!
Cyclists may travel to Assateague over a bicycle-pedstrian bridge and follow a paved bike path along Bayberry Drive through 4 miles of island habitat.
A paved path leads bicycles from Chincoteague to Assateague. Enjoy these paths, too!
Wildlife Loop - 3 1/4 mile loop
Woodland Trail - 1 1/2 mile loop
Swan Cove Trail - 1/2 mile
Black Duck Marsh Trail - 1 mile

Surf Fishing
Surf fishing has been a popular recreational activity for generations. With a few basic tips on seasons, conditions, equipment, species and regulations, anglers can have an enjoyable experience and create a few memories.

Crabbing and clamming are great ways to discover the bays behind Assateague and sample some local seafood.

Over-Sand Vehicles (OSV)
There are 12 miles of beach in Maryland and a small section of beach in Virginia open to over-sand vehicles. An annual OSV permit may be purchased for $70 to $150 depending upon the type of access desired. Specific equipment is required.

Canoeing and Kayaking
Canoes and kayaks may be launched from designated areas on Assateague. Careful consideration should be given to weather conditions and tidal currents. Rentals are available seasonally in Maryland.

Things to Know

Summers at Assateague are generally hot and humid. Mosquitos and ticks are abundant from spring through autumn. Insect repellent and/or protective clothing is recommended. It rarely snows in the winter but it is often cold, damp and windy. Sturdy hiking shoes are recommended for long walks in the sand and hard soled water shoes/sandals or for wading in bay waters.

Nature & Science

More than half of Assateague Island National Seashore's 48,000 acres is comprised of near-shore and estuarine waters, and the interplay between these waters and the barrier island affects nearly every aspect of life in this dynamic coastal environment.

The geography of the island itself is in a state of constant flux, continuously being reshaped by the elemental forces of wind and water. Powerful storms can dramatically alter the shoreline in a matter of hours, as waves wash over the beach and reshape the island from ocean to bay. 

Other forces sculpt the landscape in less obvious ways. Exposure to salt spray, lack of fresh water, and isolation from the mainland are subtle, but powerful influences on the Island's species composition. Over time, these conditions have produced a community of plants and animals uniquely suited to the extremes found at the edge of the sea.

Human activities also exert a strong influence Assateague's natural environment. Beginning in the 1600's, colonists used the Island for grazing horses and other livestock. The bands of wild horses living on Assateague today are descendents of those domesticated animals and remain a powerful force acting on the island's natural systems. A

t various times in its history, fishing villages, industrial sites, and even a network of lifesaving stations for stranded mariners have all left their marks.

Then as now, the dynamic nature of the island continues to manifest itself in both subtle and dramatic ways, giving Assateague its unique and special character.

Places to Picnic

  • Assateague State Park
  • Bayside
  • North Ocean Beach
  • Toms Cove Visitor Center

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