Updated: Dec 23, 2019
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit Assateague Island State Park. It was a $20 per car fee but you were allowed to keep your receipt to use up to a week after purchase if you wanted to visit again. If you haven't heard this place here's a bit of information:
1. It's about a 2 hrs 30-45 mins drive from the DC metropolitan area
2. According to its website, it's apparently Maryland's only oceanfront state park
3. It's literally 15 minutes from Ocean City
4. It's most famous for its wild ponies but there are plenty other things to do
5. There are a plethora of marshes to explore
6. There are campground areas throughout the park
My purpose for visiting was to capture pictures of its wild ponies. If you've ever been to this park you probably already know the rules but let me refresh your memory:
1. You are allowed to take pictures of the ponies but must be at least 40 feet away (I was probably about 100 feet away just because). The label "WILD" is very true. These horses will charge at you, kick you or even bite you if they feel threatened. This offense comes with a hefty $1,000 fine. These horses may also carry rabies so do not get too close.
2. You cannot feed any of the wildlife on the island
3. I've seen this before, DO NOT... I REPEAT DO NOT try and sneak up on the horses to pet them! You will regret it.
4. Just an FYI there is horse poop everywhere...SO WATCH YOUR STEP
Now that we've gotten the rules out of the way, let me share what I experienced while at this park. As we crossed the bridge onto the island, we saw 4 horses grazing by the side of the road. It was a terrible place to take pictures because it was a two lane road and if someone stopped it began to build up traffic. So I snapped a quick picture and hoped to see more horses on our way in.
We didn't see any horses on our way inside the park so we ventured past the beach area, that is absolutely breathtaking, over to the marsh area.
In this area, you were allowed to shell for clams, oysters and mussels, fish, crab and kayak. This area also had variations of different birds that were very allusive, I had a hard time getting pictures because they would just take off at any moment. It was a beautiful, peaceful and family friendly area. It was a bit cloudy when we arrived so I couldn't take as clear pictures as I wanted.
We drove around to see what else we could find that was new and found more campgrounds, a boat slip area, and an area where you could swim in the marsh water.
We eventually made our way back to the beach because...you know...I love the beach :-). There are restrooms, changing rooms, outdoor showers, a snack shack, umbrella and chair rental for your beach needs. There is also a small picnic area where you can barbecue away from the beach.
Often times you can find horses freely roaming the beach but the beach was pretty packed so there were no horses in sight. At this point I was getting disappointed and decided to snap pictures of the beach. I find this beach to be quieter and cleaner than Ocean City. Since it's a National State Park it has more rules around the preservation of the area than Ocean City.
After a while we decided to leave and head to Ocean City for lunch, I was disappointed at the lack of horses. On our way out, I got lucky and we found about 5 horses grazing near a marsh. There were so many people and cars, so I tried to snap as many pictures as I could before it got too crazy. I'm not to happy with the look of my pictures but it was difficult with so many cars and people potentially scaring off the horses.
This place is a photographers paradise, so if you want amazing nature and beach pictures you might want to give this place a visit. I've always loved this area and its organic preservation of the beach, park and marshes. The wild ponies add an awesome essence of beauty. I plan to visit this park again in the fall when there are less people and horses tend to roam more freely around the island.
If you want more information about this park click here.
Check out this short video of our walk up to the beach