Horses of Corolla
the past these wild Spanish mustangs have roamed freely around Corolla
and much of Currituck Banks north of Southern Shores. Before N.C.
Hwy. 12 was extended from Duck north to Corolla, this village and
its lighthouse were more remote than the northernmost reaches of Currituck
Banks around Carova are today. Like Carova and the other northern
beach communities of today, Corolla was then reached only by boat
or by driving up the beach for many miles. But now there are paved
roads and thousands of homes on Currituck Banks north of Southern
Shores, up to Corolla. It was this explosion of population and traffic
which eventually forced the wild horses north, for their own safety,
into a protected area away from highways and speeding cars.
north of Corolla, where Hwy. 12 ends in a 4WD ramp onto the beach,
there is a fence stretching from the ocean to the sound. Its purpose
is to keep the wild mustangs from wandering south onto the roads where
they, like wayward deer, could be hit by cars. North of this fence
only 4WD vehicles can make it up the beach past wildlife reserves
to reach the communities of homes that have spread northward to the
Virginia state line. It is here, around Penny's Hill, and North Swan
Beach, and Carova that these wild horses continue to run free. The
herd of a about 100 horses is now being managed, and may possibly
expand by another 20%-30% in the future.
illuminates the fence stretching
into the ocean at Corolla .
is not so difficult to see the wild Spanish mustangs for yourself
if you have a 4WD vehicle and know where to look. Of course, not everyone
comes to the Outer Banks with their own 4WD. But all is not lost.
The other option is to reserve a seat with a guided tour service.
They know where to find the wild horses and have the means to get
you there. All you have to do is bring your camera.
horses may be seen roaming freely along the dirt roads, on the
beach, or in people's yards. It's easy to drive right past them
foraging in the trees and not even notice them.
you strike out in your own 4WD, and know where to look, there is a
very good chance you will see at least one group of 3 to 5 horses.
The farther north you go, the more opportunity you''ll have to see
some on the beach, or grazing on the dunes in view of the beach. If
you don't see them on the beach, you will need to go exploring on
the back roads. These roads are strictly dirt and sand. Although many
sections of these roads are well packed dirt, they frequently change
to deep sand and great muddy puddles.
are no ditches here, so large, very large, puddles abound. Judicious
caution should be used when traveling these roads. Usually there is
a sandy path around the worst of the puddles, worn to one side of
the road or the other to bypass the water. Depending upon how much
rain has fallen in recent days, the puddles may be quite easily driven
through, but they might also be deep enough to drown out the engine.
It's wise to err on the side of caution.
driver of the big SUV in this photo was not so prudent and quickly
succumbed to the hidden danger of the large puddles you can find on
the sand and dirt roads around Carova. One puddle can be six inches
deep, and the very next one can be two or three feet deep. You cannot
tell by just looking. If you see someone else drive through safely,
you could chance following their path, but only if you have a real
4WD off-road vehicle. Otherwise, the best advice is "don't try it."
Tips on finding the wild
mustangs, and what to expect going up the beach to Carova are next.
Then there is the "Wild
Horse Gallery", with many great photos.