One of the most unique adventures on The Outer Banks (OBX) is seeing the Wild Horses in Corolla. Having descended from Spanish Mustangs dating back centuries before America’s founding, these Wild Horses are among the oldest and most popular residents on OBX.
If you own a 4×4 vehicle, you can drive yourself on the beach to see these horses. If not, you can go on a wild horse tour or walk to find them. Seeing these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat is a Bucket List experience while visiting OBX.
About The Wild Horses
There’s an on-going debate about how these majestic animals arrived on North Carolina’s shores. It is believed these horses descended from a herd of Spanish Mustangs that were either left behind by early Spanish explorers or they swam ashore from a shipwreck. Historically, the Northern OBX geographic isolation has provided the perfect environment for these horses to thrive without interference for hundreds of years.
Take a Self-Guided Tour with your 4×4 Vehicle
If you own a 4×4 vehicle, you can drive on the 4×4 Beach where prime horse spotting territory is located. Below are some guidelines to follow.
- From the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day, a county-issued Beach Parking Permit is required for vehicular access to this part of the beach. The rest of the year a permit is not required.
- You may purchase a seasonal or 10-day permit by submitting a completed Beach Parking Permit application to Currituck County. Permits are available for purchase at the Corolla Visitor Center and Currituck County Welcome Center.
- Cost for 10-day Parking Pass is $50 and Seasonal Pass is $150.
Things to Know When Driving on the Beach
There is an Air Down Ordinance for driving a motor vehicle on the beach, requiring you to lower the pressure in your tires to 20 psi or lower. The best spot for this is the Air Down station at the Corolla Village Road public access facility located across the lighthouse. However, bring a tire gauge to properly measure your tire’s pressure when deflating and then when re-inflating. After leaving the beach, you may air up tires at Historic Corolla Park free of charge. Air stations are located at the end of the parking lot near the picnic pavilion.
On the beach, drive slowly at the recommended speed of 15 mph when around horses, cars, and people.
Luckily, we have a 4×4 vehicle, so we were able to drive on the beach. It’s an easy drive, but we didn’t venture pass the beach. The only hiccup for us, we didn’t have a tire gauge. We asked another beachgoer at the public access facility who happily helped us.
Wild Horse Tour
If you don’t have a 4×4 vehicle, you can book a tour with one of the tour companies. Wild Horse Adventure Tours was the tour company recommended to us. This outfit drives Hummers, which reduces the bumpiness of the ride making the experience more comfortable. If you have kids, their vehicles are equipped to accommodate car seats.
Walk the Beach
Another way to see the horses is parking your car and walking. When we were visiting, there was a small group of horses just a short walk from the parking lot. Though it’s hard to know exactly where the horses will be, you can always take a chance and walk. Lather up with sunscreen and bring water to stay hydrated.
Know The Rules and Regulations
Regardless of how you get to this beach, be sure to follow some rules. It’s unlawful to intentionally come within 50 feet of the horses. Viewing from a distance is the safety of both you and the horses. These are wild and quite powerful animals. Also, don’t feed the horses –that’s against the law too.
Get a Bucket List Adventure Checked Off
Seeing these Wild Horses on North Carolina’s coast was always on my Bucket List. However you choose to go, it’s a unique experience to have in your Outer Banks travel memories.