Parking Lot at Woodland Trail Closed
The Woodland Trail parking lot will be closed 7-23 all day and in the morning 7-25 & 7-27. The trail is still open to hikers and cyclists.
The refuge is open from 5am to 10pm, 7 days a week.
Visitor Center hours are 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week.
Lighthouse & Refuge Treks Available
2016 Refuge Trek & Lighthouse Climb schedule is available. The lighthouse will be closed on Wednesday July 27.
Protecting Nesting Shorebirds
To give birds a chance at survival we create nesting sanctuaries by closing Toms Cove Hook and Assawoman Island from Mar. 15-Sep. 15.
We protect threatened species like the piping plover.
South OSV Zone - COMPLETE CLOSURE
To protect nesting wildlife, the South OSV zone is completely closed to all access.
OSV permit information (NPS website)
You can now download a quick synopsis of the final comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) for Chincoteague and Wallops Island National Wildlife Refuges (NWR). This 15-year management plan will guide refuge practices to achieve our wildlife conservation mission and to support public use on the refuge.Comprehensive Conservation Plan Fact Sheet (pdf - 550KB)
We are pleased to announce the release of the final comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) for Chincoteague and Wallops Island National Wildlife Refuges (NWR). The 15-year management plan will guide refuge practices to achieve our wildlife conservation mission and to support public use on the refuge.Chincoteague and Wallops Island NWRs Final CCP
About the NWRS
The National Wildlife Refuge System, within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants.
Learn more about the NWRS
Around the Refuge
Pony Penning week is around the corner! This annual event is put on by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. If you are planning to visit here’s some helpful info:
The Sunrise walk along the beach will take place Monday, July 25. The purpose of this morning is to move the horses from the north herd to join the south herd in the newly completed Grover “Drizzle” Wilgus Jr. South Pony Corral. The refuge opens at 5:00am and we recommend driving to the recreational beach to park if you plan to view the walk. Bicyclists and hikers are welcome to use Swan Cove Trail to access the beach. Bring snacks, water, bug spray and cameras to enjoy this special morning! Please note that the Service Road will be closed to all access (other than Saltwater Cowboys of course). This includes a closure of the North OSV area, no bicycle access to D-Dike, and no walking on the Service Road. Unfortunately, there will not be any transportation to Swans Cove via bus offered this year.
July 27 is the Pony Swim (time to be announced), which is best viewed in town or via boat. We recommend the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company website for more information about Pony Penning (see the link below). You can also contact the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce (757-336-6161). Please be aware that the Lighthouse will be closed on July 27th.
Thursday, July 28th is the Pony Auction which begins at 8:00 AM. More information can be found on the link below.Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company Website
CAUTION: As of July 1st, lifeguards on Assateague Island, VA already made 68 rescues so far this summer. This is nearly as many rescues as the combined total made during the entire summer of 2015 on Assateague Island (in both Maryland and Virginia)! Conditions on the beach are particularly hazardous this year due to a high number of seaward currents. These currents are most likely to form in areas of deep water that are next to areas of shallow water. Don’t be fooled! This deeper water may appear calmer than surrounding water. If caught in a seaward moving current; remain calm and signal for help by raising an arm. If you have the energy, swim parallel to shore to escape the current. If you are exhausted, try to remain calm and stay afloat. Many times, the current will bring you onto a shallow area. To stay safe, watch for yellow warning flags and listen for daily announcements from lifeguards. You can also read warnings posted on the information signs at the lifeguarded beach. Swim in the lifeguarded area or wear a lifejacket. Join lifeguards for a Surf Safety Demonstration, available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10am. You can also click the link below for tips on water safety.Learn more...
The North Over-sand Vehicle area is available March 15 to September 1. It is accessible from the Service Road and open to valid OSV permit holders for the purposes of fishing only. From this point forward, OSV users in either zone are required to sign-in and out during their visit. Please see the link below for detailed information and related updates to rules regarding use of the OSV areas.
Note: the North OSV area will be CLOSED July 25.
North OSV Zone details
Good news! Bicyclists are now permitted to ride on the service road up to "D-Dike". Please see the link below for a map and details.
Note: the Service Road will be CLOSED to all access July 25, 2016.Read More (pdf 167KB)
Over the past 200-300 years, these modern-day descendants of domestic horses have adapted to the hardships of living near the ocean. Prior to the refuge's establishment in 1943, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company purchased the ponies and continues ownership to this day. The Firemen are allowed to graze up to 150 ponies on refuge land through a Special Use Permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Page Photo Credits All photos courtesy of USFWS unless otherwise noted., Sunrise over Chincoteague - Jacqui Trump.
Last Updated: Jul 21, 2016