Assateague Island National Seashore: A Haven for Nature Lovers

Assateague Island National Seashore: A Haven for Nature Lovers

Assateague Island National Seashore, straddling the border between Maryland and Virginia, presents an idyllic retreat for those yearning to break free from the fast-paced rhythm of urban living. This remarkable barrier island is a sanctuary where the natural world reigns supreme, unmarred by the heavy hand of development. Spanning a generous 37 miles, Assateague offers a diverse tapestry of landscapes to indulge your wanderlust. Here, you're invited to stroll along pristine beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see, their sands kissed by the Atlantic's gentle waves.

Assateague National Seashore Boardwalk


  • Assateague Island National Seashore offers a diverse landscape, including beaches, marshes, and forests, ideal for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers.
  • The island features a population of wild horses, various wildlife species, and is perfect for activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking, and camping.
  • Assateague Island National Seashore provides a serene getaway for solo travelers, families, and outdoor enthusiasts to reconnect with nature.

Venture beyond the beach, and you'll discover a rich mosaic of marshlands, where the soft murmur of the sea is replaced by the tranquil sounds of nature. These marshes are a haven for a myriad of wildlife, offering birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike a chance to encounter species in their natural habitat. Further inland, the island's forests await, a verdant realm that stands in stark contrast to the open beaches and marshes. These wooded areas are not only visually stunning but also serve as a peaceful escape, where the only sounds are the rustling leaves and the occasional call of woodland creatures.

The beach is the most visible and well-known environment on the island. Here, visitors can enjoy miles of unspoiled coastline, with soft sand and crystal-clear water. The beach is also home to shorebirds, including sandpipers, plovers, and terns.

Assateague National Seashore Beach

The dunes are a critical part of the island’s ecosystem, providing a buffer between the beach and the interior of the island. The dunes are home to a variety of plant species, including beach heather, sea rocket, and beach grass. Visitors can explore the dunes on foot or by bike, taking in the stunning views of the surrounding scenery.

Assateague National Seashore Dunes

The marsh is perhaps the most important environment on the island, providing critical habitat for a variety of wildlife species. The marsh is home to a variety of plants, including cordgrass, marsh elder, and saltwort, which provide food and shelter for a variety of animals, including fiddler crabs, terrapins, and ospreys.

Assateague National Seashore Marsh

What to See and Do

With so much natural beauty to take in, it’s hard to know where to start. Here are some of the top things to see and do at Assateague Island National Seashore:

  1. Beaches: The beaches at Assateague Island are some of the most beautiful on the east coast. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful spot to relax and soak up the sun, or you’re interested in surfing, kayaking, or paddleboarding, there’s something for everyone here.
  2. Wildlife Viewing: One of the unique features of Assateague Island is the population of wild horses that roam freely on the island. You can often spot them grazing on the grasses or walking along the beach. The island is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, foxes, and a wide variety of birds.
  3. Hiking and Biking: There are over 37 miles of trails to explore at Assateague Island, including the Life of the Marsh Trail, which winds through the island’s salt marshes and provides breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery.
  4. Kayaking and Canoeing: The waters surrounding Assateague Island are perfect for kayaking and canoeing. You can rent equipment from a variety of vendors in the area or bring your own and explore the island’s waterways at your own pace.
  5. Camping: If you’re interested in spending more than a day at Assateague Island, camping is a great option. The island has two campgrounds, one on the Maryland side and one on the Virginia side, both offering a range of amenities and facilities.

Basic Information

Here are some other helpful things to know about Assateague Island National Seashore:

  • Entrance fees are $25 per vehicle and $20 per motorcycle, and are valid for seven days.
  • You can bring pets to the Maryland side of the island but they must be leashed at all times. They are not allowed on the Virginia side.
  • The park has restrooms and shower facilities available for visitors.
  • There are several picnic areas throughout the park, as well as a variety of restaurants and cafes in the nearby towns.
  • If you’re interested in visiting during peak season (June through August), be sure to make reservations well in advance, as the island can get crowded during this time.

Assateague Island National Seashore Poster | Robert B. Decker

Click here to see the Assateague Island National Seashore poster.

Assateague Island isn't just a destination; it's an experience that reconnects you with nature's serene beauty. Whether you're a solo traveler seeking solitude, a family looking for a unique vacation spot, or an outdoor enthusiast eager to explore new trails, Assateague Island National Seashore offers a truly unparalleled experience. So pack your bags, leave your worries behind, and prepare to immerse yourself in the unspoiled beauty of one of America's most treasured natural landscapes.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist with a single passion for our National Parks! Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph each of our national parks and to create WPA-style posters to celebrate the amazing landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history that embody America's Best Idea!

Click here to learn more about the artist...

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