How to See the Corolla, NC Wild Horses (For Free & For A Fee)
No question about it, one of the most popular attractions on the Outer Banks is the wild horses of Corolla, North Carolina. Descendants of the original colonial Spanish Mustangs, these fantastic animals running free on the northern OBX beaches have captivated us for decades.
If you’ve never seen these majestic beauties, you’re missing out!
Sure, you may have climbed to the top of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse or tried your hand at riding waves during a surfing lesson. You may have even spent an afternoon learning about the two brothers from Dayton, OH, who came to the Outer Banks at the turn of the last century and changed the world forever with their flying machines.
You may have done these fantastic OBX activities, but have you ever watched a Corolla wild horse jog along the beach? It’s something you have to witness at least once!
If you’d like to see the Corolla wild horses, you have two options:
- You can book a wild horse tour with a company like Corolla Outback Adventures
- Or you can embark on your own, self-guided journey on the 4×4 beaches of Carova on a quest to find the wild horses!
Seeing the horses isn’t a guarantee with either method, but you will likely spot at least one. The bright side is that even if you don’t see a wild horse, you’ll still be able to enjoy Corolla’s incredible natural beauty and diverse wildlife during your adventure!
Free Self-Guided Corolla Wild Horse Tour
Let’s start by mentioning that you will need a four-wheel-drive vehicle. And before you ask, NO, do not attempt to drive your car, minivan, or any other vehicle that doesn’t specifically have an option for a four-wheel drive on the beach.
Each year, someone takes a photo of a vacationer who attempted to drive on the soft packed sand in Corolla or Hatteras Island in a minivan and ended up getting stuck… Don’t be that guy or girl!
Okay, so drive your four-wheel-drive vehicle to Corolla and keep heading north on NC 12 (past Currituck Beach Lighthouse and the Whalehead) until you come to a point where there is no more paved road. Then, let some air out of your tires to help with traction, head out onto the beach and continue heading north.
Some say that you’ll need to drive at least six miles before you see the horses – others have spotted them within a few hundred feet from where the paved road ends. So keep heading north until you’ve seen enough horses or until there is no more beach to drive on!
Here is an image from Google Maps… You’ll see that the paved road ends right here, and if you want to continue north, you have to drive on the beach.
In addition to the 4×4 area, the Corolla wild horses are regularly spotted in the backyards of homes that are located in subdivisions before the spot where the road ends as well.
Instead of driving aimlessly through the many cul-de-sacs of Corolla in search of the horses, go on the beach instead or reserve a Corolla wild horse tour with a reputable local company (see below).
Guided Corolla Wild Horse Tours
Ponying up the money for a guided Corolla wild horse tour may be the best option for those that are either unfamiliar with the area, not comfortable driving on the beach (or don’t own a four-wheel-drive vehicle) or would like a hassle-free option that requires you to only show up and enjoy the ride.
Many different companies offer guided Corolla wild horse tours, all of which you’re sure to have a memorable experience.
For the most part, when you book a guided Corolla wild horse, expect that you’ll be riding in an open-air, safari-style vehicle that has seating for about 14 patrons. The guides are usually very entertaining and ensure that you have the best possible chance of seeing a wild horse.
Unlike Outer Banks dolphin tours with a company like Kitty Hawk Kites, there is no 99% guarantee that you’ll spot one of these wild Spanish Mustangs. (However, there is an excellent chance!)
Corolla wild horse tours cost about $50 for adults and $25 for children. Many companies offer discounts if you are willing to go on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday. Most companies that offer this service do not do so year-round, in fact, many will close up shop for the season sometime in early to mid-October and then reopen in the spring, sometime around May.
Please keep in mind! (This is important!)
Feeding or coming within 50 feet of a Corolla wild horse is 100% illegal and dangerous for both you and the horse.
The Currituck County Police Department will not hesitate to issue you a ticket if you break this law! There are numerous photos of people petting one of the horses on Facebook and Instagram each summer. Just don’t do it!
Oh, and don’t forget to bring a camera! Pictures of the Corolla wild horses look great in family vacation photo albums! (They also look great on your personal Facebook page wall.)
This video from Wild Horse Adventure Tours will give you an idea of what to expect during a guided wild horse tour.
Best of luck on your adventure!