Cape Hatteras stretches north to south across three islands - Bodie,
Hatteras, and Ocracoke. The islands are linked by State Highway 12 - a
narrow, paved road - and Hatteras Inlet ferry. Some of the special natural
and historical features that you can visit along the way are described
briefly below. The highway also passes through eight villages that reflect
the nearly 300-year-old history and culture of the Outer Banks. The
villages are not part of the park. For more information, stop at the
Whalebone Junction Information Center near the park's northern entrance,
or at any of the park visitor centers. Park brochures and activity
schedules are available.
The ruins of the shipwrecked Laura A. Barnes lie here, not far from
where she went aground in high seas in 1921. Park Rangers give history and
natural history programs here in the summer.
Pea Island and National Wildlife Refuge
Many species of waterfowl and other birds live in this protected area or
stop here during migrations. You can see them from observation platforms
or from walking trails.
This isolated island and its small harbor village have retained much of
their early charm and character. Ocracoke has served as a home for
fishermen, and as a hiding place for pirates. Blackbeard often escaped his
pursuers by fleeing to shallow waters near Ocracoke Inlet. The remnant of
a horse herd that once roamed free on the island can still be found here.
There are four campgrounds in the park - Oregon Inlet, Cape Point, Frisco,
and Ocracoke. All are open during the summer season; contact the park for
opening and closing dates. Ocracoke campsites may be reserved for Memorial
Day through Labor Day camping dates. On the internet, contact
Biospherics for reservations in June, July, and August. All other
campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Camping fees are charged. Camping is allowed only in designated
campgrounds. All campgrounds have cold showers, drinking water, tables,
fire grills, and modern restrooms. No utility hookups are provided.
Dumping stations are located near Oregon Inlet, Cape Point, and Ocracoke
campgrounds. Sand and wind conditions require longer-than-normal tent
stakes. Shade awnings and netting for insect protection will make camping
How to Reach the Islands
Motorists can reach the park from the north via U.S. 17 and 158 or from
the west via U.S. 64 and 264. Free ferries connect Ocracoke and Hatteras
Islands on a regular schedule. This 40 minute trip is available on a
first-come, first-served basis. One
ferry travels from the mainland to Ocracoke. One leaves from
Swanquarter, N.C., which is reached via U.S. 264. The other leaves from
Cedar Island, N.C., reached via U.S. 70. From Swanquarter, the ferry trip
takes 2 1/2 half hours; from Cedar Island, 2 1/4 hours. Reservations are
recommended. In Ocracoke call (252) 928-3841, Cedar Island, (252)
225-3551, Swanquarter, (252) 926-1111.
Visiting Nearby Parks
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, 8 miles west of Whalebone
Junction, commemorates the
Lost Colony, the first English attempt to settle the New World in
Wright Brothers National Memorial, 9 miles north of Whalebone
Junction, commemorates the first heavier-than-air, powered airplane flight
there by Wilbur and Orville Wright in 1903.