North Carolina’s incredible coast sports a spectacular population of animals living in nature. A group of wild horses reside on the northernmost Currituck Outer Banks near the Virginia border, in an area referred to as “Carova.” Several businesses, including Corolla Outback Adventures, take visitors on tours to see the Colonial Spanish Mustangs. Folks remain at a respectful distance as the animals roam freely in the coastal environment. It’s an educational, inspirational sight for kids and adults alike.
Inspired by Mom – Enjoyed by All!
I don’t know why, but a Wild Horse Tour has always been on my bucket list. I’ve dreamed about it and talked about it for years…so much that my husband and sons would make fun of me! In April, we finally took the plunge. We decided to road trip with the boys.
We started out in Connecticut, then made a stop in Philadelphia. From there, we drove about seven hours to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a simply stunning area. Right away, I booked us on a Wild Horse Tour, through Corolla Outback Adventures. Gotta tell you – it didn’t disappoint. What started out as Mom’s passion became everyone’s mission. Of all the activities we accomplished on our week-long trip, the Wild Horse Tour was on the top of everyone’s list.
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A Quiet Time to Visit a Busy Spot
In the summertime, the Outer Banks are hopping, filled to the brim with tourists. I really enjoyed visiting in the preseason during the spring.
We stayed at the lovely Sanderling Resort in Duck. It wasn’t at all crowded. While we enjoyed building sand castles and taking walks on the beach, the ocean water was really too cold for swimming. But the outdoor, heated pool was open and we experienced some great weather. With a few days in the 70’s and 80’s, the kids swam and enjoyed the environment. And I give “two thumbs-up” to the Sanderling’s ‘smore kits. We had some great bonding moments around the fire pit in the evening.
Check out these TravelingMom tips for finding a great vacation beach house in the Outer Banks.
An Exhilarating, Scenic Ride
The Wild Horse Tour began at Corolla Outback Adventures. We parked our cars, then got into the back of a pick-up truck, outfitted with two rows of seats. After we were belted in, we took off, eventually going off road onto the hard-packed sand of the incredible beach. We cruised at a pretty good speed along the shoreline. This was a really exciting experience that provided great views. Our hair was whipping around. We were holding onto our seats and laughing together. Such a nice memory.
Remember: Patience Is a Virtue
The truck left the beach and started winding through sandy roads that bordered homes. We hit one common spot for grazing horses…then another…then another…and we saw nothing. Everyone was quiet as our guide from Corolla Outback Adventures kept trying. Truth be told, it took awhile but our guide was engaging, telling us stories and sharing facts through his back window, as we drove along.
Finally, someone said: “I see a horse!” And we all turned to see a fairly small, black mustang trotting down the street. It was very different to see a horse in the wild rather than a horse on a farm. His mane was tangled, matted and sporting some brambles. No brush had made his hair smooth and glossy. He wasn’t wearing shoes. Even so, he was simply gorgeous with soft eyes and a strong body.
Pretty soon, he met up with a friend. Or enemy. We weren’t sure! They appeared to have a tiff, which was pretty interesting to witness. We ended up seeing a few of the mustangs, and each sighting was a satisfying treat. Our sons, ages 11 and 13, were really thrilled to see a horse in the wild.
History Is Everywhere
Our guide shared the fascinating story behind the Corolla Wild Horses. Apparently, Spanish ships arrived on the Currituck Banks in the 1500s. Historians believe the horses were left behind or thrown overboard during bad conditions. Ever since, the horses have made a home there.
Over the years, they were threatened by development and tourist traffic. There is now government protection and various funds to help preserve the population. The area is known for treacherous waters and sports old lifesaving stations. We saw one on the tour. Folks can stop at the border of North Carolina and Virginia – appropriately called “Carova” – and put a foot in each state! The boys got a big kick out of that.
Can’t Wait to Go Again
We loved the tour so much that we’d really like to go again. Apparently, horses are out in bigger numbers during the warmest months. So, perhaps one year, we’ll battle the crowds and head south in the summer. For now, we’re left with magical memories of a salty, fresh ride that led to lessons about beauty, nature and freedom. An unforgettable experience.
Have you been on a Wild Horse Tour? Click here to read about another TravelingMom’s experience in Wyoming.