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Assateague Island National Seashore

9,180 bytes added, 20:47, 25 June 2012
[[Image:Assateague pony.jpg|thumb|350px|Wild pony on the beach]]
'''Assateague Island National Seashore''' [] is a beautiful barrier island, administrated by park services, permanently uninhabited, and most famous for its charismatic '''wild ponies'''. The northern tip of the island is a Maryland state park, while the rest of the Maryland section of the island is a [[United States National Parks|United States National Seashore]] that is located approximately 10 miles south . The southern third of the island runs into [[Ocean City (Maryland)|Ocean City]] in [[MarylandVirginia]], and is managed by the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. It is completely uninhabited, and open only to daytime canoe/kayak and foot visits
Assateague Island National Park was established in 1943. The island has 14,000 acres of beach, a forest, as well as saltwater marsh and freshwater marsh habitats. This habitat is home to migratory birds, plants, and of course wild ponies. Their are many different theories to how the ponies got to the island; some say they are survivors of a shipwreck, but there is no evidence to support this. Others say that someone put the ponies over on the island so that they could avoid fencing laws.
Summers are generally hot and humid, albeit less humid than inland. It rarely snows in the winter but there is often a damp cold. In 2010 there was a heavy snow stormAt any time of year, come prepared for potential high winds, causing the horses to starve and the firefighters had to take hay to them.always for intense and unrelenting, inescapable sun!
==Get in==
===By car===
Driving is the only practical way for individual travelers to get to the island (although it is very bicycle friendly). Coming from the west on US-50, take the exit for US-113, turn left on Assateague Rd at the light, then right on MD-611, which will terminate on the island. From Ocean City, take the exit from US-50 directly on to MD-611 S.
''See [[#Sleep]] for details on camping fees''
===National Park===
Entrance fees are $3 for individuals on foot or $15 for private vehicles. Both fees are good for seven days. A $30 annual pass is available, allowing free entry for one year. The $80 National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is valid at all national parks and allows free entry for one year.
===State Park===
==FeesStandard day use is $4/Permits==person for Maryland residents Memorial Day-Labor Day, $3Memorial Day-Labor Day $4/person. Non-Maryland residents pay $6/person.
Entrance fees ===Pets=== Pets are $3 for individuals permitted on foot the Maryland side of the island, including overnight, but must remain confined or $10 for private vehicleson a leash no longer than six feet. Both fees All pets are good for seven days. A $30 annual pass is available, allowing free entry for one year. The $80 National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is valid at all national parks and allows free entry for one yearexpressly prohibited in the Virginia Wildlife Refuge.
==Get around==
You can take your vehicles to the State Park parking lot, or into the National Park to the North Ocean Beach lot, or as far south as South Ocean Beach. There is also parking by the National Park's boat launch, as well as the Life of the Forest and Life of the Dunes trails. Parking by the campsites is strictly restricted to campers with permits. The park service allows 4x4s '''Over Sand Vehicles''' (OSVs) to drive on the beach with a seasonal permit (predominantly used by locals), which unfortunately will spoil any thoughts you had of a pristine walk on an unspoiled beach, or for that matter, peaceful, isolated beach camping. Edward Abbey would be appalled. Bicycle lanes are present leading across the Verrazzano Bridge to the island, and then run south all the way to South Ocean Beach in the National Park. Otherwise, you're strolling along the gorgeous beach!
The '''Assateague Light house House''' was built in 1833 and is 142 feet tall, it was first lit in January 1833. On October 1 1867 A new lens was put in and it could be seen for up to nineteen miles. This lighthouse is now only open a few times a year for tours.
The '''wildlife ''' and '''wild ponies- ''' are without a doubt the star attractions. Bird watching is one of the more popular activity activities in Assaeague, but most people mostly come to see the wild ponies. Their There are many different theories to how the ponies got to the Island, island: some say they are survivors of a shipwreck, but their there is no direct evidence to support of this. Others say that someone put the ponies over on the island so that they could avoid fencing laws. To catch the ever popular pictures of the ponies walking by the surf, the ponies favorite beach times are early morning around sunrise, late afternoon, and sunset. Around mid-Day, the ponies are more easily found either by the road, poking around the campsites, or a little less often on the marsh side of the island. Ponies seem to love to go in the middle of the road after dark... You are a lot more likely to see them in the National Park than the State Park.
Pony Penning dayThe '''beaches''' are spectacular- On -huge white sand beaches on the last Thursday Atlantic, unmarred by any buildings in July thousands any direction. (Although the beach is thoroughly marred by all the OSVs once you go south of South Ocean Beach.) Lifeguards are present during swimming season at the main section of tourist come to watch the "Saltwater Cowboys" swim State Park's beach, and at North Ocean Beach in the ponies National Park. The National Park beaches are lifeguarded only on holiday weekends, and from Assateague Island mid-July to Chincoteague Islandthe end of August. The water tends to be a little bit rough, but still OK for swimming. One of the best ways more fun walks is to see head north of the main swimming area in the State Park towards the northern tip of the Wild Ponies swim island (and indeed, it does come to a narrow sandbar, where you can stand, surrounded by surf. This area is on a Scenic Boat Tournotionally and unofficially "clothing-optional," but it's rare to see anyone actually disrobe.
On Assateague Island there are many activities to keep one occupiedAside from the obvious swimming, taking a walk along the '''Life of the Dunes''' and the '''Life of the Forest''' trails in the National Park is highly recommended. First off there is You will learn a lot about barrier island ecosystems in the beach where many people can come process (especially if coupled with a free visit to and enjoy. People can also camp the National Park Visitor Center on either the beach mainland side or of the Verrazzano Bridge). They are also fabulous opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography. A colorful sunset over the bay side in marsh on the Federal part bayside of the parkforest trail is unforgettable. Throughout Bug spray with DEET is requisite for the Federal side of the park there are many feral horsestrails, white tailed and sika deerlong pants/long sleeves are also quite handy. *'''Surf fishing''' is another popular activity, red foxes which will require both a fee and many other types permit from either visitor center. Fishing is permitted away from the lifeguarded area of animals that can be seen while on the roadparks (using commonsense to avoid getting too close to swimmers), beach or one of as well as the bayside near the many trailsboat launches. On  * <do name="MD Coastal Bays Rentals" alt="" address="" directions="at the bay side people can rent out National Park boat launch" phone="+1 410 213-2297" email="" fax="" url="" hours="Mid-April-Memorial Day: Sa-Su 10AM-4PM (last launch at 3PM); Memorial Day-Labor Day: 9AM-6PM daily (last at 4:30PM); Labor Day-mid-October: Sa-Su 10AM-4PM (last launch at 3PM)" price="Kayak: $15/hour, $45/day, $65 overnight, $80 weekend; double kayak: $20/hour; canoe: $10/hour, $40/day, $60/overnight, $75 weekend; paddle boards: $25/hour, $40/2 hrs; bicycle: $6/hour, $20/day, $30/overnight, $45 weekend; clam rakes: $3/hour, $10/day, $15 overnight, $20 weekend. Weekend rates: F afternoon - Su afternoon">'''Canoes''', '''kayaks ''', and canoes, while there '''paddleboards''' are available for rental mid-April through mid-October from the stand at the boat launch in the National Park. This is off road driving a great way to explore the beautiful marsh side of the Southisland. Rentals will not be available in case of any small craft safety advisories. The boat launch also rents clam rakes and bicycles.</do> *'''Over Sand Vehicles'''. Also Driving on the bay side there beach is permitted south of South Ocean Beach in the National Park for approved vehicles with a permit (make sure you know what you are places where doing, or you will get ''stuck''). The way to make this a person can try day is most certainly to catch blue crabbring some fishing rods and a picnic (locked in your car to avoid attracting ponies). Permits cost around $80-150 depending on what you plan to do, and many musselsare good for one year. Make sure to read over the OSV brochure if interested []. It is possible to camp overnight with your vehicle in the Bullpen at kilometer 21. *'''Pony Penning Day'''. On the last Thursday in July thousands of tourist come to watch the "Saltwater Cowboys" swim the ponies from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island. One of the best ways to see the Wild Ponies swim is on a Scenic Boat Tour.
On the last Thursday in July is Pony Penning day and an auction is held to sell wild ponies from Assateague. They do this to make sure the ponies do not over populate the island. Many tourist love to watch the auctions as well as see the "salt water cowboys" swim the herd from Assateague to Chincoteague.
Aside from buying horses one day per year, the National Park Visitor Center is a good stop for some souvenirs, as is the gas station/general store just west on MD-611.
There is no food on the island other than what you bring, and you absolutely must keep all food either in your car or in an airtight canister, unless you fancy getting bitten/stepped on by horses. There's no need to rough it, though, as there are dining options a short car ride away. And of course, there is always [[Ocean City]].
* <eat name="Assateague Crab House" alt="" address="7643 MD-611" directions="" phone="+1 410 641-4330" email="" fax="" url="" hours="Memorial Day weekend-Labor Day: noon-10PM daily" price="$10-35">This is the closest restaurant to the island, and its seasonal opening reflects its principal trade in tourist traffic (and just that it's a crab house). The crabs are fun, albeit not the best in the state, whereas the fried chicken really shines. For larger groups, the all you can eat specials of crabs, chicken, plus sides are great. Remember, true Maryland surf and turf is steamed Blue crabs plus skillet fried chicken!</eat>
* <eat name="Decatur Diner" alt="" address="9609 MD-611" directions="" phone="+1 443 664-6779" email="" fax="" url="" hours="Su-Th 7AM-3PM, F-Sa 7AM-8PM" price="$4-14">This is just a no-frills roadside diner done well. It's just far off the beaten path to keep the prices nice and low. Breakfast served all day, with some fun regional specialties like crab omelets and scrapple omelets. The Pipeline, along with the Pipeline Burger, is their comically big heap of everything, topped with cheese and an extra dash of grease!</eat>
* <eat name="Pepper's Tavern" alt="" address="" directions="MD-611 at Sunset Ave in the strip mall" phone="+1 443 664-6712" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="$3-10">Pepper's is dirt, dirt cheap, but clean, friendly, and tasty (if very simple) Tex-Mex. Pepper's beers are also easily the best along this route. Save room for the fried ice cream.</eat>
Campers are permitted to bring their own alcoholic beverages. Those under 21 should be exceedingly discreet, however, as the Park Police have recently begun cracking down on underage drinking, and those under 21 caught in possession of alcohol can expect a hefty fine ($300).
The two good watering holes up MD-611 are the aforementioned Pepper's Tavern, and the Green Turtle West. Nearby [[Ocean City]], of course, has endless nightlife options, which most assuredly will be busier and more caffeinated than Berlin bars. Be extra sure to have a designated driver, as the Assateague roads are dark, and hitting wildlife is an ever-present danger!
* <drink name="Green Turtle west" alt="" address="9616 MD-611" directions="" phone="+1 410 213-1500" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">Some good beers on tap, along with decent bar food (especially the hot wings) complement the main attraction, which is the busy bar filled with HD-TVs to watch just about any game that's on. Maryland teams, naturally, are the local favorites.</drink>
It is possible to back country camp in many sections of the island. Some of these are only accessible by paddle boats. When you arrive at the island. Check in at the Ranger Station and get your backcountry pass (US$6 pp) and you'll need to get a vehicle pass as well (US$15 per car). Proceeding on to Bayside Drive, you can rent a canoe or kayak. Some back country sites are also accessible by hiking, although distances can be long (and brutal in the sand and sun). Unlike the frontcountry tent camping sites, the backcountry sites are almost always vacant even on weekends in the busiest season. As such, they are not reservable, and you can just sign up on the day of. Some sites will be off-limits if you arrive to late in the day to realistically reach them.
Canoing/kayaking, rather than hiking, is best even for the closer-in beach-side sites, as the boats are better for trucking in all the extra water you will need (1 gallon/person recommended per day). If you are intending to really get away from it all, make sure to pick a site south of the OSV bull pen, so your desired Robinson Caruso beach doesn't turn out to be an SUV park!
==Stay safe==

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