Jockey's Ridge State Park

Orientation & Geography

North America, United States, Dare County

Jockey's Ridge State Park is a North Carolina state park in Dare County, North Carolina in the United States. Located in Nags Head, North Carolina, it covers 426 acres (1.72 km²) and includes the tallest active sand dune system in the eastern United States. It is the most visited park within the NC park system. The park is a day-use only park and has no campgrounds. Jockey's Ridge contains three unique ecosystems: the Roanoke Sound, the dune system, and the maritime forest. Often when it rains, water collects near the bottom of the dunes creating a temporary pond, known as a vernal pool. Few fauna can be seen around the dunes, although some types of flora, such as tall grass, may be readily identified closer to the bottom of the dunes. The park is open year round, except Christmas Day, and does not charge an admission, parking, or program fee. The park's entrance is located at Milepost 12 on S. Croatan Highway/US 158. Ranger-led programs are offered throughout the year. Also available are nature trails, a sound access, and picnic areas. Viewing the sunset over the sound, bird watching, and kite-flying are among the favorite activities of visitors. The park also provides outside bathrooms that are typically open from the last frost of the spring to the first frost of the fall. During the summer months, when visitation is highest, visitors are encouraged to bring water with them. There is no fresh water available within the park. The desert-like environment can be quite harsh and temperatures can reach 110 degrees; the sand can be 30 degrees hotter. The park's visitor center features a museum about the cultural and natural history of the park, including sand dunes, plants and wildlife, weather, pirates and local maritime history. A gift shop run by the Friends of Jockey's Ridge is also located in the visitor center. The ridge area is accessed either from the back deck of the visitor center or the parking lot via a 350-foot-long (110 m) boardwalk. Kitty Hawk Kites, the world's largest hang gliding school, also provides concessionaire hang gliding lessons in the park. Their office is located directly behind the park's visitor center.