If you’re looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, Assateague Island National Seashore might just be the perfect destination for you. Located off the coast of Maryland and Virginia, this stunning barrier island is a haven for nature lovers, offering 37 miles of unspoiled beaches, marshes, and forests to explore.
Assateague Island is a unique and fragile ecosystem, characterized by its diverse habitats and species. The island is home to three distinct environments: the beach, the dunes, and the marsh.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 offers a unique and diverse natural environment for you to explore and enjoy. Whether you’re interested in hiking, kayaking, or just soaking up the sun on the beach, there’s something for everyone on this stunning barrier island. So why wait? Plan your trip to Assateague Island National Seashore today and experience the beauty and wonder of one of the east coast’s best-kept secrets.
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!
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