Tips for a Corolla Wild Horse Adventure

February 14, 2022

The Corolla Wild Horses are perhaps the oldest and most popular residents of North Carolina’s northern Outer Banks. The existing Corolla Wild Horses are descendants of Spanish mustangs that arrived by colonial ships in the Americas around the 16th century. How these horses came to roam free on the northern beaches is subject to debate, but theories include colonial shipwrecks from early expeditions to this area by the Spanish and English. 

Regardless of how they arrived on the Currituck Outer Banks, the Corolla Wild Horses are a must-see during your Outer Banks vacation. Enjoy a self-guided wild horse tour or schedule a professionally guided tour. Discover the horses and their natural beauty while keeping yourself and the horses safe.

A Herd of Survivors on the Outer Banks: Our State Magazine details the history and beauty of Corolla’s Wild Mustangs.

Take a Guided Corolla Wild Horse Tour

If you don’t have a four wheel drive vehicle, or you’d simply like to relax and take in the scenery while a professional navigates the beach, consider reserving a guided horse tour. It’s one of the most exciting and memorable things to do on the Outer Banks and is a great way to have fun with the entire family. Our local guides are also knowledgeable about where the horses like to roam, which increases your chances of seeing some of the herd.

Many guided tour providers are located in Corolla and book online. Remember … tours fill up quickly. It’s best to reserve your tour in advance to ensure your spot. These reputable and professional tour operators will provide an adventure you’ll never forget!

Afterward, complete your Wild Horse adventure by visiting the Corolla Wild Horse Museum in Historic Corolla Village. Here you will learn about these legendary mustangs and their origins, as well as shop for unique gifts. Proceeds from sales are used for the preservation of the herd.

Self-Guided Wild Horse Tours

Up for a true adventure? Driving a 4WD vehicle to Corolla? A self-guided tour gives you the opportunity to see the Corolla Wild Horses in their natural habitat. Be mindful of our local and state regulations as you plan.

Where to Look

  • The Corolla Wild Horses can be found on the northern beaches of Corolla and Carova. This area is only accessible by four wheel drive vehicles because you must drive on the beach itself. Be sure you read our county beach driving tips before setting out on your self-guided tour. Remember to attain either a map of the area or understand where the Public Vehicular Areas (PVAs) are on the beach. Some areas are restricted as a part of the Corolla Wild Horse preservation area. Be aware of posted signs.
  • Whether you are in the PVA or on the roads of Corolla, watch for horses crossing the road, especially at night.

What to Do Once You Find Them

    • Remain at least 50 feet away from the horses. Observe the horses at a distance that is safe for both you and the horses. State law requires you to remain 50 feet away from the wild horses at minimum. Citations will be issued to violators. Abiding by this law will help preserve the horses and allow them to continue enjoying their freedom in the wild.
    • Please do not feed the horses. Our horses subsist on beach grains that grow in the wild here. Feeding the horses and leaving out food for them is against the law, as apples and other foods can be toxic or choking hazards. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund offers more tips on Wild Horse safety.
  • Restrain your pets. If you’re bringing your dog along for the ride, make sure they are leashed. This is for the safety of our horses and your pets.

Important Things to Consider

  • Be sure to fill your gas tank before entering the Public Vehicular Areas on the beach.
  • Deflate your tires to help your vehicle move more easily through the sand.
  • Do not attempt to drive on the beach in a vehicle that is not four wheel drive.
  • Stay alert and safe when driving on the beach. You will be sharing the beach with other vehicles, beach-goers, pedestrians, dogs and the Corolla Wild Horses.
  • If you are not a Currituck County resident or property owner, or a visitor staying in a rental home on the 4WD beach, you will need to purchase a weekly parking permit to park on the 4WD beaches of Corolla.

If you are a nature lover, you won’t want to miss your chance at viewing the Corolla horses in their natural habitat. Roughly one hundred horses remain and seeing them in person is one of the most unique Outer Banks activities you can experience. Take the opportunity to learn new things, obtain gorgeous pictures, and make lasting memories. Just be sure to follow the rules and regulations while visiting the horses and enjoy the wildlife and breathtaking scenery.

Make it Your Nature

The North Carolina outdoors is really a reflection of you. That’s why the Currituck County Department of Travel and Tourism has partnered with Visit NC, the NC Outdoor Recreation Industry, and the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to make it easy for you to preserve the natural beauty of our state. Click here for more information on how you can make an impact during your stay on the Currituck Outer Banks. #MakeItYourNature #OutdoorNC