On the 37-mile Assateague Island, conditions are unforgiving for a unique society—numbering roughly 300—that has made the lonely, wind-swept barrier island its home for more than three centuries.
Descended from a softer breed left to fend for themselves among the marshes and surf, this hardened band of creatures has endured scorching heat, violent storms, swarming insects and poor-quality food for generations to become for the modern traveler an infamous and unforgettable sight: the wild horses of Assateague Island.
Divided across state lines between Maryland and Virginia, Assateague Island includes two separate populations of feral horses and is managed in various parts by three different agencies: the National Park Service, Maryland State Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
For an overnight stay, camp at the national seashore or state park, or find lodging nearby in Chincoteague or Ocean City.