If you're going down to see the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, you should stop and see the Bodie (pronounced Body) Island Light as well. It's less crowded but you can't climb it. There's a nice trail and raised walkway where you might see some alligators and definitely birds like egrets. There is a visitor center here that's open pretty much every day with a good bookstore.
Here are some facts about it: Height: 156 feet
Height of Stripes: 22 feet
Light Pattern: 2.5 seconds on, 2.5 off,
2.5 on, 22.5 off
Beam Range: 19 miles
Ownership: transferred from US Coast Guard to the National Park Service in 2000
(from the NPS website)
This is a nice enjoyable 40 minute ride through the Atlantic to the island of Ocracoke. Park your car and get out and move freely around on the ferry. This is a lot of fun and its free! If you take a sightseeing cruise it costs around $20 per person, so why not do this for free!
On the way to Ocracoke we had a bit of a wait, had to wait approx an hour to board the ferry. On the way back we were able to get on immediatly. The ferry runs until midnight. This was one of our highlights of the trip! :)
This lighthouse is beautiful!!! You can climb the lighthouse for an additional $7. Beautiful area to walk and explore as well as the buildings full of info. Lovely place to visit, you will not want to miss it, Very easy to find.
The black and white spiral makes Cape Hatteras one of the most recognizable lighthouses in the US, and the 208 feet height makes it also the tallest in the United States. The light can be seen for 20 miles, warning ships of Diamond Shoals (the graveyard of the Atlantic) which is a twelve-mile (12) long sandbar just offshore.
Diamond Shoals is the meeting place of two great ocean currents: the cold Labrador and the warm Northbound Gulf Stream. Where they collide, it creates fog and ever changing sandbars just beneath the water surface.
The present lighthouse was built like the light at Cape Lookout and had a first-order Fresnel lens to magnify a small oil wick flame. It was replaced by a rotating beacon--a double affair with 1000-watt lamps in each beacon. Today, the beacon is automated, but at the time it was built, the keeper had to wind weights suspended by heavy cables in order to rotate the thousand-prism lens. In good visibility, it can be seen 51 miles at sea and 115 miles in the air.
The octagonal base of brick and granite, measures twenty-four (24) feet by fourty-five (45) feet six inches. The black and white barber-pole paint, or "candystriping" was added in 1873 to make the lighthouse more distinctive during the day. There is another similarly painted lighthouse in Florida ( St. Augustine), but I guess they figured that if you didn't even know whether you were in NC or FL, you were in such sorry shape that there wasn't much hope for you..
As early as the 1920s, erosion became a major problem to the new lighthouse. In the summer of 1999, the lighthouse was moved 2899.57 feet from its original location
The "Double Keeper's Quarters" is used to house the "Museum of the Sea" and the Buxton Visitor Center.
Opening for Climbing:
Good Friday to Columbus Day (weather permitting)
$6.00/Climb Adults - Day
$3.00/Climb Child (12 and under) - Day
$3.00/Climb 62 and older - Day
Cape Hatteras, Fort Raleigh and the Wright Brothers National Memorial are the 3 National Park Sites on the Outer Banks.The Wright Bros. has an entrance fee of $3 which is good for a few days, maybe a week (? I am not TOO sure of the length of time) The Rangers are knowledgeable and the programs are interesting.
They give a walk taking you to the hangar where Orville and Wilbur designed their plane, take you through the timeline of the problems they encountered along the way and show you how long the first, second and third attempts were.
Keep in mind, because this is a barrier island, the monument is not where the flight took place. When there was talk of establishing a monunment, they went back to look at the area and it had changed drastically.
Be prepared to get involved in some of the programs--having given lots of them through the Park Service myself, i know it's usually a key component.
They usually run no more than 45 minutes.
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is pretty famous. If not for the fact it's the tallest lighthouse in the US, then because of its recent "relocation"
I remember going down to see this lighthouse when I was younger when it always was under construction and leaning at an uncomfortable angle toward the ocean. They tried to stabliize the lighthouse, but it was obvious that nothing was working--the barrier island was migrating westward and the lighthouse was in trouble. This brings up an interesting point. Barrier Islands are made to shift and protect the inland areas. They aren't meant to be built on--you have to expect to lose things (like structures) when the island or chain of islands is doing its job--I'm very passionate about and fascinated by barrier island systems!
ANYWAY, so, the decision was made to move the lighthouse while maintaining the original floating foundation...it was pulled 1/2 mile back onto land and this whole process caused SO much controversy. Now, it's reopened, you can tour it starting Apr. 9th of this year and while it's a hot walk up, it's really an impressive view!
This place is right along Rt. 12 between Hatteras Island and Nags Head but it doesn't seem to get that crowded. Perhaps that's because it's not an overly developed tourist trap.
They have trails, programs, opportunities to take small boats out, a visitor center...it's very nice.
There are "365 species of birds, 24 species of reptiles, 25 species of mammals..." just to get you started and intrigued (from the FWS website)