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Plan Your Visit

Visitor Center

Know Before You Go

In the spring, summer and early fall, avoid tick bites and mosquitoes by

  • Staying on trails
  • Use repellent
  • Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants while exploring the area
  • Inspect yourself carefully for “hitchhikers”

Poison ivy is abundant on the refuge. Please stay on refuge trails to avoid contact.

Raccoons, and other mammals on the refuge may carry rabies. Enjoy all wildlife from a distance, especially if they seem friendly.

Chincoteague Ponies, although they may appear tame, are wild animals and may kick or bite without warning.

Points of Interest

Herbert H. Bateman Educational and Administrative Center  

We encourage you to start your visit at the 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.

Videos are shown by request daily in the visitor center auditorium, and programs on a variety of topics are offered during the summer. Inquire at the information desk for further details.

The gift shop, with a selection of books, clothing items, and jewelry, is located in the refuge visitor center and is run by the Chincoteague Natural History Association.

The Herbert H. Bateman Educational and Administrative Center is open 7 days a week. The hours are:

9:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M. October 1 - April 30
9:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. May 1 - September 30
*Closed Christmas and New Year's Day

Address:
8231 Beach Road
Chincoteague Island, VA 23336
Telephone: 757-336-6122

Assateague Lighthouse 

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 National Register of Historic Places.

Trails 

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.

Learn more about the trails on the refuge. 

Recreational Beach 

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).

Learn more about the refuge's beaches. 

Page Photo Credits — Aerial view of the visitor center - Patrick Hendrickson.
Last Updated: Mar 07, 2014
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