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Assateague Island: Wild Ponies, Kites, Birds, and Bikes

| Updated Nov 6, 2021

We are at Site 17 on the Ocean Loop at Assateague National Seashore in Maryland for a week. Assateague is a barrier island on the Maryland/Virgina border.  Two of our Standard Poodles, Tate and Farley, are enjoying the trip with us in our Roadtrek 190 Popular. We are located just behind barrier dunes.

This out of the way place has plenty to recommend it, stuff to do and to see. We are boondocking here because there are no electric, water, or sewer hookups, although potable water and a dump station are about 1/4-mile away. Thanks to our 100-watt solar panel, Onan generator, and occasional driving, we have plenty of battery power and our propane furnace and Reflectix in the windows keeps us snug on cool nights.

Boardwalk & Many Kites
Ocean City boardwalk during kite festival

The last weekend in April is the two-day Kite Festival at Ocean City. As in past years we drove over to see the fun. This is also the last weekend when dog owners may bring their dogs on leashes to stroll along the boardwalk.

Pooches of every breed were there — Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Great Danes, Corgis, Bulldogs, Whippets, and plenty of All-American Dogs. The hit of the day was the inflation of a 90-foot whale kite that undulated like the real thing in the beach wind. Four-line stunt kite teams precision maneuvered their bowtie kites to music, and kids were flying both homemade and store-bought kites.

In addition to strollers, kids on scooters and skateboards and riders on bicycles wove in and out of the crowds. We saw eight Segway two-wheel electric scooters. We have made photos in past years and this. Bring your camera!

Red Rover & Pony
Our campsite

Assateague Island is famous for wild ponies (horses) that roam the island. They make great photo ops, but don't try to pet them because they bite, kick, and charge.

There are two bands of wild horses; At the north end of the island the National Park Service manages a free-ranging band, limited in size by chemical birth control. At the south end of the island, in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge over the Virginia line is another band of wild horses managed by the Chincoteague, VA Fire Department.

Each year the new crop of horses are swum to the Chincoteague city mainland and enough foals auctioned off to manage the numbers. The proceeds supporting the Fire Service. The book “Misty of Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry, illustrated by Wesley Dennis (Rand McNally, 1947), is enjoyed by thousands of kids annually.

Dragon KiteBirds of the Atlantic seashore are everywhere for bird watchers. An onshore museum has bird identification graphics and specimens, as well as a history of the colorful events of Assateague's past. An old lifeboat station is located by a scenic turnoff. At one time real estate developers planed a major home subdivision on the island. Nearly all traces of the canal system and road rights of way have disappeared after the developer went bust.

Kites & Simon
Kite Festival fun for both people & dogs

Another interesting feature of the Assateague National Seashore is the issue of OSV (Over Sand Vehicle) permits. Properly equipped with soft tires, 4-wheel drives, and un-ditching gear, permit holders can drive on the beach all the way to the Virginia state line.

Roger and a friend bribed a truck owner to take them along on an OSV ride. They saw half-a-dozen surf fishing teams of families and friends, and remnants of the defunct real estate development.

Ponies in Campsite
Our neighbor's campsite

There are two campgrounds on Assateague Island. The Assateague State Park is operated by the Maryland Park Service and has hookups. Pets are welcome in one loop, but are not allowed on the beach.

Assateague National Seashore is operated by the National Park Service. There are no hookups on either the Ocean Loops or the Bay Loops.  On the Ocean Loops you can easily fly kites at your campsite.  We brought a good collection of both single line and stunt kites in our Stowaway Max Cargo Box.

Dogs on leash are allowed on the non-lifeguarded beaches, but not on the lifeguarded beach or the nature trails. Other park rules apply. Reservations are recommended if you plan to stay overnight or longer.

There are bike lanes on the park roads and a separate bridge to the island for bikes. Assateague is beautiful in the spring and fall – the bugs in the summer can be horrible. Lynn has vivid childhood memories of the “man-eating flies” and mosquitoes of Assateague Island.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2015-04-30

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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