Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Where:  Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Nags Head
Type of Activity: Exploring, Hiking, Kiting, Hang Gliding
Distance: Variable

This article is a deviation from the standard post you will find at ExploreNCOutdoors. Traditionally we encourage exploring the great outdoors, usually by providing a map, a trail, and a few pictures at the location. Jockey’s Ridge State Park doesn’t fit the norm.

The park is literally a 426 acre, mostly sand, open space area and is the tallest active sand dune on the east coast. The highest point rises around 100 ft above the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Roanoke Sound to the west.

There are several entrances to the park. The main official entrance is on W Carolista Drive, but you can also park at the Kitty Hawk Surf Company and use the pedestrian crosswalk directly to the dune.

JockeysRidgeCrosswalk

Jockey’s Ridge truly offers a chance to explore. You literally may find yourself picking out an interesting spot and walking to it. From there, you’ll see something else interesting, and walk to it. And from there, walk to something else.

Depending on the time of your visit, there are usually various activities occurring at the park. Commonly you will see Kitty Hawk Kite Hang Gliding School participants learning to take advantage of the hills, the Outer Bank’s wind, and the soft sandy landing. On the last day we visited, a kite festival was being held on the dunes.

JockeyRidgeKites

One interesting fact at Jockey’s Ridge is that sometimes lightning strike the dune, as it’s summit is the tallest object around. The intense heat of the lightning striking the sand creates fulgurite, which is basically a nature form of glass. The park museum has a few pieces of fulgerite on display.

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