Just a four hour drive from New York City, wild ponies roam free on an island paradise. Many horse enthusiasts may have heard the story of Misty of Chincoteague from the beloved children’s book based on the feral ponies in this very area! While Chincoteague is more popular thanks to the story and their annual Pony Penning Days, the herds actually live on Assateague Island and roam around in relative freedom.
The horses live on a diet of plants and grasses found in the surrounding marshes- as well as any food they can steal from unsuspecting visitors! Make sure you store your food properly when camping or you might wake up to some unexpected guests.
Unlike most wild animals, these ponies are relatively comfortable around humans so they’re often spotted in highly trafficked areas including camp sites and roadsides. However, it’s important to remember that they are still wild animals and need to be given their space.
Visiting in early spring is always a delight because you might spot some bonus babies! I recently visited in mid-March and was lucky enough to see one of the first foals of the season!
Look at that little baby! How cute is she? I love that perfect little crescent moon on her face- just like Misty’s daughter Stormy.
Chincoteague ponies have a high foaling rate, with about 70 foals expected per year. With female horses having a gestation period of 11 months, some of those round bellies you see year round might just be expectant mothers!
If the ponies aren’t enough of a draw, Assateague Island National Seashore also has lovely beaches to relax on, several miles of bike paths, and campsites with great views of the marshlands or the beachfront, depending on the site.