Assateague Island

July 8, 2013Landscapes
Three brown and white wild horses on the beach of Assateague Island

Maryland and Virginia

Nestled along the coast between the Atlantic Ocean and Sinepuxent and Chincoteague Bays, Assateague Island hosts an enchanting herd of wild horses made famous by Marguerite Henry’s book Misty of Chincoteague.

Though local folklore tells of a shipwreck depositing the animals, it’s more likely that they descended from tame horses brought here in the late 1600s by mainlanders looking for a tax-free grazing area. As a unique wild horse society, the ponies run free on the Maryland side of the island.

Horse next to a short fence on the white sands of Assateague Island

The landscape here is as dynamic as its favorite inhabitant— tough, wild and constantly evolving. Increasingly harsh storms and rising sea levels shape and reshape the barrier island’s form. Find out more about this unique landscape at

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