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Home Cities and Regions Coast How To See The Wild Horses Of The Outer Banks

How To See The Wild Horses Of The Outer Banks

A visit to the Outer Banks isn’t complete without seeing the wild horses of Corolla. These regal horses run free along the coast and are a beautiful sight to behold. The horses are the OBX’s oldest and dearest residents, but where did they come from? How can you encounter the wild horses? And, is anyone looking after them? We’re sharing all the important details below.

Origin of the Wild Horses of Corolla 

Descended from the Spanish Mustangs, the Corolla wild horses were the first settlers of the Outer Banks. The horses have been residing along the North Carolina coastline for nearly 500 years. Meaning they were among the first residents of the area, second only to the Native Americans. 

Although it’s not possible to trace the horses back to a specific origin, historians have used ship’s logs and journals to try to pinpoint a possible answer. Many believe that the horses came from early Spanish explorers. 

There are two commonly accepted stories. The first story shares that the Spanish settlers were forced to abandon their ramshackle homes and livestock when fleeing from the local Native American tribes during attacks. The horses were left behind to roam the coast. In the second story, a Spanish boat attempting to conquer the new world started to sink. The boat was required to let go of extra cargo and the horses were released, forming their own herd in the Outer Banks.  

At times, the horses roamed from Cape Lookout to Ocracoke Island and on to Corova. With the development of these lands and paved roads, the horses have been kept to a smaller area. Today, the beautiful horses roam freely along the dunes of Corolla. Part of what makes them appear so magical is their unknown origins.

How to See the Wild Horses of Corolla 

Before attempting to see the majestic horses, bear in mind that there are a few laws in place regarding your interaction with the wild animals: 

  • Do not feed the wild horses 
  • Do not pet the wild horses 
  • Do not come within 50 feet of the horses 
  • Do not bait or entice the horses 

These laws are in place to protect the horses but they’re also for your safety. Although the horses are calm and peaceful, they are still wild animals and could get spooked and injure you or your family. 

Keeping these guidelines in mind, it is possible to embark on a self-guided tour to spot the horses. You’ll need a car with 4-wheel drive. Many tourists get stuck in the sand each year attempting to spot the horses. 

From Corolla, head North on NC 12. You’ll pass the Whalehead and Currituck Beach Lighthouse. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where the paved road ends. Use that four-wheel drive to head out onto the sand and continue heading north on the four-wheel drive beach. Most people report that you’ll need to drive about 6 miles before you start spotting horses. 

Outer Banks wild horse runs in the surf
The best way to see the magnificent wild horses of Corolla on your next Outer Banks is on one of several off-road tours.

Corolla Wild Horses Tours 

While it is possible to do a self-guided journey, the best bet for seeing the wild horses of Corolla is to book a tour with one of the reputable companies in the OBX. Reservations are recommended, especially during peak tourism season in June and July. 

Corolla Wild Horse Tours 

252-207-0511 

Corolla Wild Horse Tours offers knowledgeable guides. Their tours focus on family and are safe for any age. Car seats are welcomed in their vehicles as well. The tour takes place in a 15 passenger open-air safari truck. The guide will take you through the dunes and through neighborhoods for a 25-mile journey that will last 2 hours. Corolla Wild Horse Tours has more than 20 years of experience and knows exactly how and where to spot the wild horses. 

Bob’s Wild Horse Tours 

252-453-8602

Since 1996, Bob’s Wild Horse Tours has been helping tourists spot the Corolla horses. Their knowledgeable guides will take you through the four-wheel-drive beaches, sharing OBX history and folklore. Bob’s Wild Horse Tours was the first tour company to offer open-air horse tours in the area. Their vehicles seat up to 15 people and can accommodate car seats. The tour lasts two hours.  

Corolla Jeep Adventures 

252-453-6899

Corolla Jeep Adventures offers several different kinds of exciting tours in the Outer Banks including ATV tours and kayak tours. One of their most popular is the ‘Wild Horse Safari’. This guided tour will take you and your family on a 2-hour journey to spot the wild horses. Their customized safari-style trucks provide open-air viewing. The tour guide will drive you to the top of “Penny Hill” to take in the beautiful view. The hill will also give children the chance to explore and jump down the side of the steep dune. 

 Wild Horse Adventure Tours 

252-489-2020 

Wild Horse Adventure Tours provides a unique experience with an off-road tour in an open-air, customized H1 Hummer. The vehicles have room for 13 passengers with individual seats and plenty of room. Wild Horse Adventure Tours has also been granted exclusive access to the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Swan Beach. This means that you’ll be able to view the horses in a hidden, natural environment. All tours are a little over 2 hours. 

Corolla Wild Horse Fund 

The majestic wild horses have become an important neighbor to many Outer Banks residents. This is why the laws have been put into place to help protect the animals. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund was created as a not-for-profit charity that is responsible for protecting and caring for the wild horses. The Wild Horse Fund monitors the herd and checks on individual horse health daily throughout the year. 

The headquarters includes a store and an educational museum detailing the history and the cultural significance of the horses. 

You can support the Wild Horse Fund by sponsoring a horse, providing hay, making a one-time donation, or becoming a member. Find more details here.

Round Out your Corolla Experience 

Aside from the incredible experience of viewing the wild horses along the beach, Corolla has a lot to offer. Check out our Corolla 3-day weekend recommendations and enjoy the Outer Banks!  

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