Jockey's Ridge State Park

#2 in Best Things To Do in Outer Banks
Jockey's Ridge State Park picture
Jockey's Ridge State Park
1 of 3
Devon Gustin/Getty Images

Key Info

300 W Carolista Dr.

Price & Hours

Free
Hours vary seasonally

Details

Parks and Gardens, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.7scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

The most popular attraction on Nags Head (aside from the oceanfront) is Jockey's Ridge State Park, home to the tallest living sand dune on the Atlantic coast. You can reach the top two ways: either a mile-long sand-covered trail (do this in shoes as the sand can be as much as 30 degrees hotter than the air temperature) or use the 360-foot boardwalk to walk to the top. Once at the peak, you can tap into your adventurous side by sandboarding (which requires a free permit from the park office), take hang gliding lessons or pilot a Wright Brothers 1902 glider replica with Kitty Hawk Kites, or relive your childhood and simply fly a kite. Just remember to bring your own kite or sandboard along with you. For nature enthusiasts, the park also has several other trails you can wander and spot fulgurites (glass tubes formed when lightning hits the sand) – but removal of them is not allowed.

Recent travelers said a visit to the park is a great experience for the whole family, and report that the top of the dunes provide stunning panoramic views of the coast. To avoid brunt of the midday heat, reviewers recommend visiting in the morning or just before the park closes. 

The easiest way to reach Jockey's Ridge State Park, which sits less than 5 miles south of the Wright Brothers National Memorial, is via car. Park hours vary depending on the month but range from 8 a.m. to 6 to 9 p.m. Entrance to the park is free. Those who have mobility issues can call the park 24 hours in advance to arrange transport to the top of the dunes. In addition to a museum, there is also a visitor center and picnic facilities on-site. For more information, check out the park's website

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