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12 Best Places to See Wild Horses in North America

12 Best Places to See Wild Horses in North America

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In the diverse expanses of North America, wild horses capture the essence of freedom and untamed beauty.

If you’re wondering about the best places to see wild horses, this article is your comprehensive guide.

We’ve meticulously curated a list of top locations across North America, where you can witness these awe-inspiring creatures in their natural environment.

From the enchanting Outer Banks of North Carolina to the rugged wilderness of Nevada’s deserts, these places offer unparalleled wild horse viewing experiences.

So, prepare for an exciting exploration of North America’s scenic landscapes as we unveil the ultimate places to see wild horses.

1. Theodore Roosevelt National Park – North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota

Nestled in the beautiful Badlands of southwestern North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is home to some of America’s most gorgeous wild horses. There are around 100 horses in the park, coming in all sorts of colors, including grays, roans, and pintos.

The park is divided into two units, the North Unit located near Waterford City and the South Unit located near Medora. The wild horses most commonly hang out in the South Unit, however, they also graze throughout the North Unit as well.

During the summer months, horses commonly graze along the southeast pak border along the park boundary from Interstate 94. Herds can also be seen from the Painted Canyon Overlook and the top of Buck Hill.

2. Assateague and Chincoteague Islands – Virginia & Maryland

Assateague and Chincoteague Islands wild horses

Visitors can view the famous Chincoteague Ponies on the stunning Assateague Island. The ponies live on both the Virginia and Maryland sides of the island.

Over 300 wild ponies roam Assateague, with two distinct herds. The National Park Service manages the Maryland herd that roams across the Assateague Island National Seashore. Ponies in the Maryland herd often roam along the beach during summer and frequently walk along the park roads.

 The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company privately owns the Virginia herd. These ponies live in large fenced enclosures on the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

For a truly unique experience, visitors can watch the annual pony penning. The Saltwater Cowboys round up the ponies and have them swim to the nearby Chincoteague Island. To manage the number of ponies, an auction is held for the foals. The ponies also receive checkups before the remaining herd swims back to Assateague. Various tours are also available to see the ponies.

3. Virginia Range – Nevada

Virginia Range wild horse herd
Credit: Mitch Barrie (Flickr)

Though wild horses are found throughout Nevada, Virginia Range is the best area to view them. Located between Virginia City and Reno, Virginia Range is home to around 2,000 beautiful Mustangs.

These stunning wild horses fueled Wild Horse Annie’s (Velma Johnston) journey to stop the cruel treatment of these American treasures. Thanks to her work, the Free-Roaming Wild Horses and Burros Act of 1971 was passed. Now, the Virginia Range wild horses, along with all of America’s wild horses, can safely roam their land.

The best area to spot the Virginia Range horses is along the trail east of Reno. The horses typically hang out around the local watering holes. Multiple tours are available for those wanting to see the Mustangs.

4. Tonto National Forest – Arizona

Wild Salt River horses
Credit: Devon Christopher Adams (Flickr)

Tonto National Forest in Phoenix Arizona is home to the famous Salt River horses. Though they were once almost removed, advocates rallied to preserve and protect these wild horses.

The horses in Tonto National Forest often roam along the banks of the Salt River. If you are lucky, you may see the horses munching on eelgrass in the river, which is a truly incredible sight. The horses commonly roam along the Water Users, Pebble Beach, Blue Point, Goldfield and Coon Bluff recreation areas off of Busch highway.

For a truly special experience, visitors also have the chance to see the horses along the river by kayaking. Photographers often flock to the river for a chance to photograph the horses.

5. Dugway – Utah

Wild horses in Utah
Credit: Paul Gorbould (Flickr)

The west desert near Dugway, Utah, is home to the Onaqui herd of wild horses. These wild horses, thought to be descendants of escaped ranch horses, come in all sorts of colors from bay to roan.

The herd has approximately 450 horses. It has become one of the most popular places to visit wild horses and is a favorite sight among photographers. Visitors almost always see wild horses when driving through the Onaqui Mountains Herd Management Area.

Visitors can often see horses between Simpson Springs and the Old River Bed channel, along the historic Pony Express Road. Horses also commonly graze along Davis Mountain.

6. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area – Montana & Wyoming

Wild horses in the Pryor Mountains Wild Horse Range, Montana
Credit: Bureau of Land Management (Flickr)

As part of the Pryor Mountains, the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is home to beautiful Pryor Mountain Mustangs. The wild horses roam along the Pryor Mountains in both Montana and Wyoming.

Included in our types of Mustang horses guide, the Pryor Mountain Mustangs have a rich history, as they are descendants of colonial Spanish horses brought to America hundreds of years ago. The Mustangs often exhibit primitive markings including dorsal stripes and zebra stripes on their legs. Bands of horses often graze along Highway 37.

 A Pryor Mountain Mustang Center is located in Lovell, Wyoming. The center also offers tours so visitors have the opportunity to learn about these magnificent horses and see them roaming freely in the wild.

7. Outer Banks – North Carolina

Corolla Wild Horses of the Outer Banks, North Carolina

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is home to the exquisite Corolla Wild Horses. Descendants of Colonial Spanish horses, the Corolla Wild Horses roam along the Currituck Outer Banks.

 There are around 100 wild horses that roam along the sandy beaches of Currituck. Though there are different theories of where they came from, many believe they are descendants of shipwrecked Spanish horses that swam to the island. The horses often roam along the northern beaches of Corolla and Carova.

Oftentimes, tourists can spot the horses while walking along trails in Corolla. There are many tours available for those wishing to view the beautiful beaches and see the horses.

8. Steens Mountain Wilderness Area – Oregon

Wild Horses of the Steen Mountains Area
Credit: Bureau of Land Management (Flickr)

Located in scenic Hines, Oregon, Steens Mountain Wilderness Area is home to breathtakingly beautiful wild horses. Several herds call the area home, including the Kiger Mustang.

Included in our wild horse breeds guide, Kiger Mustangs trace back to Spanish horses brought over by the Conquistadors. They are most commonly dun in color, with distinctive primitive markings found on most horses. Many visitors come to the Steens Mountain Wilderness Area hoping to see the beautiful Kiger Mustangs.

Horses are often found along the South Steens Campground. For a unique and amazing opportunity, guided trail rides are available for a chance to see these stunning wild horses.

9. Cumberland Island – Georgia

Cumberland Island wild horses

Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia offers a personal experience with nature, as it is only accessible by boat, with no cars on the island. The island is home to around 160 wild horses.

The first historic account of horses on the island is from 1742. Throughout the 1800s, horses were brought to the island for work and recreation. By the mid-1900s, the horses on the island were roaming with little to no care from people. The horses on the island are closely related to Tennessee Walkers, American Quarter Horses, Arabians and Paso Finos.

Tourists can view the island on foot and by bicycle. Horses commonly graze in the open lawn of the Dungeness Historic District.

10. Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area – Colorado

Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area
Credit: Bureau of Land Management

The Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area in western Colorado is home to a diverse group of wild horses. There are a wide variety of colors, including bay, pinto, palomino, black, chestnut, gray, strawberry roan and blue roan.

The range is home to around 150 wild horses. It is one of only three United States reserves for wild horses. A curly horse was even introduced recently into the herd, adding more diversity to the already unique herd.

Indian Park and Coal Canyon Road are the best areas for viewing horses. Most of the range is accessible by foot and four-wheel-drive vehicles.

11. Sable Island – Nova Scotia

Wild horses of Sable Island in Nova Scotia, Canada
Credit: Paul Gierszewski

Located just off-shore from Halifax in Nova Scotia, Sable Island is well-known for its population of wild horses. Sable Island consists of approximately 500 horses who are descended from horses introduced to the island in the 1700’s. The horses are a mixed gene pool of French and New England horse breeds.

The main drawback of seeing these wonderful wild horses is accessibility. Visiting Sable Island requires Parks Canada’s and to get there you need either a private plane or to join an expedition cruise like One Ocean Expeditions that stops at Sable Island for a few hours.

12. Sand Wash Basin – Colorado

Wild horses in the Sand Wash Basin in Colorado
Credit: Hans Watson (Flickr)

Located in the northwest corner of Colorado and comprising nearly 155,000-acres of land, it is home to an estimated 700 wild horses. The Sand Wash Basin is famous among wild horse photographers and partially made so by the legendary wild stallion, Picasso. Picasso gained huge fanfare and attracted photographers from all over the country.

There are plenty of Sand Wash Basin Facebook groups to find out more information or to share your photos in.

Read our guide about the famous wild stallion, Picasso here.

Frequently Asked Questions About Wild Horses

Can I Pet Wild Horses?

No, you should never pet or approach wild horses. Wild horses may bite or kick if you touch them. When viewing wild horses, you should always aim to keep a distance of at least 50 feet. This gives you and the horses enough space to be safe. Always respect wild horses and do not touch them even if they approach you.

Can I Feed Wild Horses?

No, you should never feed wild horses. Wild horses have unique diets based on local forage. Feeding a wild horse can make them ill and even potentially kill them. In addition, it is also dangerous as they can bite and kick.

How Do I Adopt a Mustang?

You can adopt a Mustang through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  You must be at least 18 years old to adopt a Mustang. Those interested in adopting a Mustang must meet the BLM’s adoption requirements. Once approved, you can adopt a Mustang at an in-person event or bid online. In order to adopt the horse you want, you must complete an adoption application.