We hope you can join us on Saturday, July 7th for our July photo trip to Chincoteague and Assateague. We plan to meet at the Herbert H. Bateman Educational and Administrative Center at 1:00 pm to get our bearings and plan out the rest of the day. There is a Lighthouse we can visit and may even get a magnificent sunset.At Herbert H. Bateman Educational and Administrative Center there are a variety of exhibits, displays, brochures and wildlife-oriented programs. Refuge staff and volunteers are available to answer questions and help plan activities.
The Herbert H. Bateman Educational and Administrative Center is open 7 days a week. The hours are:
9:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. in the Summer
9:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M. in the Spring, Fall & Winter
*Closed December 24th, 25th, 31st and January 1st.
8231 Beach Road
Chincoteague Island, ,VA 23336
In Chincoteague there are no high rises, boardwalks, or traffic jams. Chincoteague Island is a serene, yet fun filled, tourist destination. Chincoteague Island is Virginia’s only resort Island. Located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Chincoteague is within easy reach from all major cities on the mid-Atlantic seaboard. Chincoteague is the gateway to the Virginia portion of Assateague Island, home of the famous Chincoteague Wild Ponies. Chincoteague offers a relaxed atmosphere and the beauty of unspoiled nature. From relaxing on the beach to viewing a spectacular sunset over the bay.
Assateague Island National Seashore is located close to Chincoteague Island, Virginia and Ocean City, Maryland. Assateague contains over 37 miles of pristine beach. More than 300 ponies wander the beaches, inland pine forest, and salt marshes. Assateague became a National Park in 1965 and together with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuge and State Park, the land and water boundaries of Assateague Island total over 48,000 acres in Maryland & Virginia.
Assateague Island is a vital resting and feeding area for a large variety of birds. The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is located on Assateague Island and is one of the most popular birding destinations in the United States. Assateague bird watchers enjoy the island’s wealth of over 300 species of migratory and resident birds. Assateague is an essential part of the Atlantic flyway; prime habitat for thousands of waterfowl and other birds with migration instincts that carry them north and south annually.
Visitors can enjoy the world famous “wild horses” at Assateague. The “wildlife tour” or kayaking is a great way to see much of the refuge and its wildlife by boat or kayak. This voyage is often the best way to see peregrine falcons, sandpipers, egrets, osprey, terns, gulls, waterfowl, marine-life, and (especially) wild ponies. Wild ponies and other wildlife are often encountered when visitors join the boat tour along the extensive inland waters of Assateague Island.
Some people believe that the wild ponies of Assateague arrived on Assateague Island when a Spanish galleon cargo ship (with a cargo of horses) sank off the coast and the horses swam to shore. Others believe the wild horses arrived there via early colonial settlers. Recently in 1997, a Spanish shipwreck was discovered off Assateague Island, which lends credit to the first theory. In any event, the ponies have become well adapted to the seashore ecosystem. Wild horses feed on saltmarsh cordgrass, dune grasses, bayberry twigs, rosehips & persimmons.
In 1833, the first Assateague Lighthouse was constructed to warn ocean travelers of the dangerous shoals offshore. Construction on a taller, more powerfully illuminated brick lighthouse began in 1860 but was delayed by the Civil War. After the war, work resumed and the lighthouse was completed in 1867. The light was also upgraded that year, to a first order Fresnel lens. In 1891, a separate oil storage building was built, and a new assistant keeper’s house was constructed in 1910. In 1929, the keeper staff was reduced. In 1933, the lighthouse’s oil lamps were replaced by an electric lamp, and the original keeper’s house was removed.
Today the 1910 assistant keeper’s house is used as seasonal staff residence. The oil storage building is used as an art gallery during summer months. In 2004, the U.S. Coast Guard transferred ownership of the lighthouse to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. While the U.S. Coast Guard maintains the light as an active navigational aid, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is responsible for preserving the lighthouse. The Assateague Island lighthouse is listed on the Virginia Historic Register. In 2008, restoration of the lighthouse began to preserve this historic treasure. Extensive work was done including repairs to the gallery deck so that visitors can safely enjoy the view from the top of the lighthouse and a new paint job that can be enjoyed while admiring the building from the ground.
A variety of paved trails are open to hikers and/or bicyclist. These trails include the Freshwater Marsh, Woodland, Bivalve, Black Duck, Swans Cove and Lighthouse Trails as well as the Wildlife Loop. The Wildlife Loop is also open to vehicles after 3:00pm until dusk. Remember to secure your valuables out of sight and lock your vehicle.
Some of the most gorgeous beaches found on the Atlantic Coast are located here at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The white sandy beaches of this windswept barrier island are a major reason for visitors to flock to this area. For beach lovers, there are many miles of seashore to enjoy, including a recreational beach, wild beach and the Toms Cove Hook, also referred to as the Over-sand Vehicle Zone (OSV).