New Beach Driving Permit Rule for Cape Hatteras National Seashore

The National Park Service has announced that there will be a new permitting process for Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) usage in the Cape Hatteras seashore. They have not yet announced the exact cost of the permits or the definite location of where to obtain a permit. We will post this information for you as soon as it becomes available. This rule is effective February 15, 2012.

What does this mean for you, our vacation guests?

• To drive an ORV on the beach, a permit will need to be purchased and a 7-minute video will need to be watched at a designated visitor center. (Locations of centers are to be announced sometime before Feb. 15)

• One permit is necessary per vehicle someone intends to drive on the beach.

• You can purchase for a full year (calendar year) permit or a week permit. The full year permit cost is estimated between $90-$150. For a week permit (7 days from date of purchase), the cost is estimated between $30-$50. (Exact costs are expected to be announced sometime before Feb. 15)

• Driving will only be permitted in specified areas, and those areas are subject to closures due to “resource protection” or if the capacity limit for the area has been met. Scroll down in this post to see a chart of the available ORV Routes.

• The National Park Service website has NOT yet been updated with any of this information. The new rule and all accompanying information can be found currently on the Federal Register website: https://federalregister.gov/a/2012-1250

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a permit to operate a vehicle off road?

Yes. To obtain an ORV permit, you must complete a short education program, acknowledge in writing that you understand and agree to abide by the rules governing ORV use at the Seashore, and pay the applicable permit fee. Both weekly (7-day, valid from the date of issuance) and annual (calendar year) ORV permits will be available.

Is there a limit to the number of ORV permits available?

No. There will be no limit to the number of permits that the Superintendent could issue. However, use restrictions may limit the number of vehicles on a particular route at one time.
Several of my family members have ORVs that we would like to use on Seashore beaches.

Do we need to get a permit for each vehicle?

Yes. You will need to get a permit for each vehicle that you want to use for driving on designated ORV routes. You must display the proof of permit, in a manner and location specified by the Superintendent, on each vehicle that you operate on designated ORV routes within the Seashore. (The proof of permit may be a color coded windshield sticker, hang tag for the rear-view mirror, or some other indicator provided by NPS.)

Where can I operate my vehicle off road?

Once you obtain an ORV permit, you may operate a vehicle off road only on designated routes. Maps of designated ORV routes will be available in the Office of the Superintendent and on the Seashore Web site. For your convenience, we have copied the ORV route chart below or you can find them towards the bottom of this Federal Register web page: https://federalregister.gov/a/2012-1250

Does the ORV permit guarantee that all designated ORV routes will be open for me to use?

No. In addition to the referenced seasonal restrictions, ORV routes are subject to temporary resource and safety closures. However, past experience indicates that substantial portions of the beach designated as ORV routes will remain open for ORV use even when other sections are temporarily closed.

Are there any requirements for my vehicle?

Yes. To receive a permit to operate a vehicle on designated ORV routes, your vehicle must:
• Be registered, licensed, and insured for highway use and comply with inspection requirements for the state, country, or province where the vehicle is registered
• Have no more than two axles and be equipped with tires that are listed or approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation as described at: http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Shoppers/Tires/Tires+Rating/Passenger+Vehicles.
• Be equipped with a low-pressure tire gauge, shovel, jack, and jack support board.

Can I drive on designated ORV routes at night?

Yes, but not at all times on all routes.

From November 16 through April 30: ORVs will be allowed on designated ORV routes 24 hours a day, subject to the terms and conditions established under an ORV permit.

From May 1 through September 14: Designated ORV routes in potential sea turtle nesting habitat (ocean intertidal zone, ocean backshore, and dunes) will be closed to ORVs from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m.

From September 15 through November 15: Designated ORV routes in potential sea turtle nesting habitat (ocean intertidal zone, ocean backshore, and dunes) will remain closed to ORVs from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m., however, the Superintendent may reopen portions of designated ORV routes at night if there are no turtle nests remaining. This is a minor change to the dates in the ROD. NPS has decided it will be easier for the public to understand and more convenient to administer if the night-driving dates coincided with some of the seasonal ORV route dates. Therefore, night driving may be allowed beginning on September 15 instead of September 16. Routes that are subject to these night-driving restrictions, as well as routes or portions of routes identified as having no turtle nests remaining, will be shown on maps available in the Office of the Superintendent and on the Seashore Web site.

Is a separate permit required for night driving?

No. It will be covered by the ORV permit required to drive on the designated ORV routes in the Seashore.

I have a family member who is disabled or mobility-impaired. Can I use my ORV to drive that family member to the beach where we are gathering, even if it is not designated as an ORV route?

Yes, if you obtain a special-use permit for that purpose. The special-use permit will allow you to transport mobility-impaired individuals to a predetermined location in a beach area in front of a village that is not otherwise open to ORV use. You will be subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the permit. Additionally, you should keep in mind that with a standard ORV permit you will have access to many miles of beach open to ORVs year-round or seasonally. In those areas, vehicles may simply be parked in the ORV corridor.

Basic Definitions

ORV corridor means the actual physical limits of the designated ORV route in the Seashore. On the landward side, the ORV corridor on Seashore beaches will be marked when possible by posts that are located seaward of the toe of the dune or the vegetation line. On the seaward side, the corridor runs to the water line, which will not be marked by posts unless necessary. Where the ocean beach is at least 30 meters wide above the high tide line, the landward side of the corridor will be posted at least 10 meters seaward of the toe of the dune.

ORV permits: ORV permits are a form of NPS special park use permits, which are issued and administered by the Superintendent and for which the NPS charges a fee to recover its administrative costs.
(i) A permit issued by the Superintendent is required to operate a vehicle on designated ORV routes at the Seashore.
(ii) Operation of a motor vehicle authorized under an ORV permit is limited to those routes designated in the ORV routes chart.
(iii) There is no limit to the number of ORV permits that the Superintendent may issue.
(iv) Annual ORV permits are valid for the calendar year for which they are issued. Seven-day ORV permits are valid from the date of issue.
(v) In order to obtain a permit, an applicant must comply with vehicle and equipment requirements, complete a short education program in a manner and location specified by the Superintendent, acknowledge in writing an understanding of the rules governing ORV use at the Seashore, and pay the permit fee.
(vi) Each permit holder must affix the proof of permit, in a manner and location specified by the Superintendent, to the vehicle covered by the permit for use off-road.

The following ramps are designated for off-road use to provide access to ocean beaches: 2.5, 4, 23, 25.5, 27, 30, 32.5, 34, 38, 43, 44, 47.5, 49, 55, 59, 59.5, 63, 67, 68, 70, and 72.

Designated ORV routes and ramps are subject to resource, safety, seasonal, and other closures.
Soundside ORV access ramps are described below.

For a village beach to be open to ORV use during the winter season, it must be at least 20 meters (66 feet) wide from the toe of the dune seaward to mean high tide line. Maps showing designated routes and ramps will be available in the Office of the Superintendent and on the Seashore Web site.


YEAR ROUND: Ramp 2.5 (0.5 miles south of the southern boundary of Coquina Beach) to 0.2 miles south of ramp 4.

SEASONAL (September 15 to March 14): 0.2 miles south of ramp 4 to the eastern confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and Oregon Inlet.


1.5 miles south of ramp 23 to ramp 27.
Ramp 30 to ramp 32.5.

The following soundside ORV access routes from NC Highway 12 to Pamlico Sound between the villages of Salvo and Avon: soundside ramps 46, 48, 52, 53, 54 and the soundside ORV access at Little Kinnakeet.
Ramp 38 to 1.5 miles south of ramp 38.

The following soundside ORV access routes from NC Highway 12 to Pamlico Sound between the villages of Avon and Buxton: soundside ramps 57, 58, 59, and 60.
0.4 miles north of ramp 43 to Cape Point to 0.3 miles west of “the hook.”
Interdunal route from intersection with Lighthouse Road (i.e., ramp 44) to ramp 49, with one spur route from the interdunal route to the ORV route below.
Ramp 47.5 to east Frisco boundary.

A soundside ORV access route from Museum Drive to Pamlico Sound near Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet.
Pole Road from Museum Drive to Spur Road to Pamlico Sound, with one spur route, commonly known as Cable Crossing, to Pamlico Sound and four spur routes to the ORV route below.
Ramp 55 southwest along the ocean beach for 1.6 miles, ending at the intersection with the route commonly known as Bone Road.

SEASONAL (November 1 to March 31):
0.1 mile south of Rodanthe Pier to ramp 23.
Ramp 34 to ramp 38 (Avon).
East Frisco boundary to west Frisco boundary (Frisco village beach).
East Hatteras boundary to ramp 55 (Hatteras village beach).


Ramp 59 to ramp 63. After ramp 59.5 is constructed, it will replace ramp 59 for ORV access and the route will be from ramp 59.5 to ramp 63.
Three routes from NC Highway 12 to Pamlico Sound located north of the Pony Pens, commonly known as Prong Road, Barrow Pit Road, and Scrag Cedar Road.
1.0 mile northeast of ramp 67 to 0.5 mile northeast of ramp 68.
A route from NC Highway 12 to Pamlico Sound located near Ocracoke Campground, commonly known as Dump Station Road.
0.4 miles northeast of ramp 70 to Ocracoke inlet.
A route from ramp 72 to a pedestrian trail to Pamlico Sound, commonly known as Shirley’s Lane.

SEASONAL (September 15 to March 14): A seasonal route 0.6 mile south of ramp 72 from the beach route to a pedestrian trail to Pamlico Sound.
A seasonal route at the north end of South Point spit from the beach route to Pamlico Sound.
November 1 to March 31 0.5 mile northeast of ramp 68 to ramp 68 (Ocracoke Campground area).


Picture of the Week

There’s nothing like heading out to the shore with a rod and reel in hand and casting out right from the beach. With intersecting currents and miles of beaches, Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks offers a world of exceptional surf fishing, and novice and experienced anglers alike can find amazing record setting catches just by casting from Cape Hatteras’ 70 miles of national seashore.

Picture submitted on Facebook by Sharon Collins.


Hatteras Island Information

We have compiled area information, attractions, things to do, driving directions, ideas and tips for an unforgettable island vacation full of fun, love and relaxation!

Still need to book your vacation home on Hatteras Island? No worries! Call or email our Event Coordinator and let her know what wedding you are with. She is happy to help you find the perfect accommodations! Toll free (800) 237-1138 | rent@surforsound.com Now, on to the fun stuff!

Entertaining the Entourage

It doesn’t get any better than a week at the beach. Below are a list of local Hatteras Island activities and attractions that are perfect for just the bridal party, the groomsmen or the whole group all together!


Hatteras Island offers a variety of cute boutiques, unique art galleries and more! Visit Indian Town Gallery with the girls for one of their sea glass wrapping workshops. You get to take a piece of authentic sea glass and make it into a custom piece of jewelry to keep. Classes and prices vary throughout the season, so please be sure to call ahead at (252)995-5181.

The local surf shops, from REAL Watersports to Kitty Hawk Kites, offer a selection of men’s, women’s and kids’ clothing. Stop in for a cute summer dress, flip-flops, or matching sunglasses for the wedding party to sport in fun photos on the big day!

Spa Day

Whether looking for pampering or painted nails, a visit to one of our area spas offers the perfect dose of relaxation and rejuvenation! The In Touch Massage and Wellness Center offers a selection of facials, body and foot massages and acupuncture as well as Jane Iredale Make up and Eminence organic skin care. Make your appointments today at (252)995-4067. Spa Koru, also on the island, is a spa, fitness center and salon, offering everything from massages to hair styling, manicures and pedicures.

Adventure Chic

Okay, girls, we know you just wanna’ have fun! The latest water sport to make a splash on Hatteras Island is Stand Up Paddle boarding, more commonly called “SUP.” If surfing doesn’t sound like your thing, and body boarding the waves onto shore sounds like a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen, then SUP is just the activity to get you comfortably out on the water! Stop in one of the locally-owned surf shops, like FOX Watersports, to rent the board and paddle and get a quick how-to lesson. It’s pretty simple, really fun and the views from the board are amazing!

The Boys’ Club

With close friends and family on the island for the big day, what a better chance to get the guys together and head out for an unforgettable day of fishing the gulf stream! For avid anglers or first time fishermen, it is really an awesome experience. Hatteras Island is known as the “billfish capital of the world” for the Blue Marlin, White Marlin and Sailfish caught offshore. Depending on the time of year, you will also catch colorful Mahi-Mahi, Wahoo, Tuna and Mackerel. Call Captain Jay with Bite Me Sportfishing and book your private charter today (252) 996-0295. Hatteras Island offshore fishing is a guaranteed good time for the guys!

Something for Everyone

Check out these unique island activities for even more fun, sun and adventure!


Try a Kayak Eco-Tour with Kitty Hawk Kites or rent a kayak from Ocean Atlantic Rentals and head out to explore the canals and waterways that lead to the beautiful Pamlico Sound. Many of the Day Use areas on the soundside of Highway 12 have pull-outs with parking and shallow areas to easily launch a kayak.


Looking for a different perspective of Hatteras Island? Try Parasailing in the Pamlico Sound. Even if you prefer watching, rather than parasailing, it is still a fun adventure to head out on the boat together.

Horseback Riding

Horseback Riding on the beach can be a fun group activity or, if you prefer, head out there with your significant other and enjoy a romantic guided ride on the beach! Equine Adventures can accommodate up to 10 riders per trip. Give them a call for more details and information (252)995-4897. They also offer photography options to capture the fun memories!

Dolphin Cruise

Looking for something that everyone in the group can do? Head out on the Miss Hatteras Head Boat at Oden’s Dock for a Dolphin Cruise! The trips run Wednesday through Friday, 6 to 7 PM. Each trip accommodates 80 people and seats fill up fast!

Aerial Sightseeing Tours

We hope you left your fear of heights at home, because seeing the island and ocean from the sky is one trip you will never forget! Outer Banks Air Tours offers a bird’s eye view of Hatteras Island so grab one or two friends and schedule your flight with Dwight Burrus today!

Historical Attractions & Museums

If museums, history and mystery are more your speed, then you are in the right place! Hatteras Island is full of historical significance from the colonization of America, war battles at sea, shipwrecks, pirates and more!

The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
Celebrating, discovering and displaying our island’s rich maritime history, The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is located in Hatteras village just south of the ferry docks. The rough shoals off our coast made seafaring very dangerous for old sailing vessels and thus this became known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” due to the amount of shipwrecks. Admission is free to the public and donations are appreciated.

Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station

Located in Rodanthe, the Chicamacomico Historical Association’s purpose is to restore, preserve and interpret the buildings and history of Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station, as well as the U.S. Life-Saving Service (USLSS) and its successor, the U.S. Coast Guard. This location has one of only two 1874 USLSS stations in the nation that are open to the public. The historical site offers programs in the summer from the filming of the “Nights in Rodanthe” movie to the mystery of the lost colony.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

The world’s tallest brick lighthouse, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is an iconic symbol of Hatteras Island. The lighthouse is open for climbing from the third Friday in April through Columbus Day and the view from the top is well worth the 248 steps to get there! If climbing the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is not for you, the visit itself is still very memorable and offers a great location for photos! Also, full moon tours and evening climbs are offered on select nights.

Day Trip to Ocracoke Island

Drive your car onto the free ferry to neighboring Ocracoke Island, home to the second oldest operational lighthouse in the United States. Only 13 miles long, Ocracoke Island has a charming village with little shops and restaurants that can be easily explored on foot or by rental bike or golf cart. Stop in Howard’s Pub for a vast selection of beer, a good meal and a fun atmosphere!

Family Beach Portraits

With close friends, family and loved ones together on vacation, it is the perfect time to get professional family photos at the beach, which make great holiday cards! Maybe the wedding photographer is available one day before or after the wedding. They will be so busy the day of the wedding that it is almost impossible to get every picture that you want and still have a great time with friends!
There are some great family beach photographers on the Outer Banks that know the best time, the best lighting and the best places to capture those special memories and moments. Local photographer, Daniel Pullen and his wife are team photographers with a passion for family, fun and everything naturally stunning about Hatteras Island. danielpullenphotography.com
Definitely take time to capture these special memories at the beach, you will be so glad you did!

Helpful Resources

From maps to travel information, click the links below so you can easily find your way to fun!

Hatteras Island Map

Driving Directions

Cape Hatteras Weather


“Fee Free” Holiday Weekend at Wright Brothers National Memorial

Wright Brothers National Memorial will be joining national park sites across the country in celebrating the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday by waiving admission fees on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, January 14-16.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the National Park Service will also waive admission fees on April 21-29 (National Park Week), June 9 (Get Outdoors Day), September 29 (National Public Lands Day), and November 10-12 (Veterans Day weekend). For additional information on national park fee free days, go to www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.

Park staff of the Outer Banks Group manage the parks for visitors who seek inspiration and rejuvenation from the natural wonders and rich cultural heritage of the area. Bring your family and friends to Wright Brothers National Memorial, the site of the first powered flight, and learn more about this great nation’s aviation history. Enjoy exploring the winter beaches of the nation’s first national seashore, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and visit the site of the first English settlement at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.

“Winter can be a wonderful time to visit the national parks of the Outer Banks. During the winter months the smaller crowds, more relaxed pace, and sunny, cool days can provide wonderful opportunities for affordable family vacations close to home,” said Superintendent Mike Murray. “Fee free days are a great opportunity to discover a new season in your favorite national park.”

Entrance fees are not charged at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site or Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

For information on winter hours and available services, please visit the park’s websites at www.nps.gov/wrbr, www.nps.gov/caha, and www.nps.gov/fora, or call 252-473-2111.


Surf or Sound Realty Promotes Hatteras Island at the 2012 Outer Banks Wedding Weekend & Expo

Surf or Sound Realty was thrilled to promote Hatteras Island and to once again be part of the Outer Banks Wedding Weekend & Expo, held January 6-8. Hosted by the Outer Banks Wedding Association (OBWA), this has become one of the largest annual events in the Outer Banks and Surf or Sound Realty participated again this year to showcase our wedding event homes on Hatteras Island. From touring event homes and reception sites, to meeting the top wedding professionals in our area, this is a one of a kind experience for brides looking to have a fun, relaxed and affordable destination wedding on the Outer Banks!

“Due to its unique island appeal, natural beauty and variety of vacation homes that allow events, brides are asking for Hatteras Island specifically for their destination wedding,” says Jessica Perry, Marketing Director for Surf or Sound Realty. “It is an affordable escape to paradise!”

Island festivities began Saturday, January 7th. Our Avon office served as an Open House stop on the Wedding Tour with a selection of our premier Hatteras Island event homes featured on the Outer Banks Wedding Tour. Brides came to visit us at Bramasole, Hatteras Paradise and others to see how an Event Home can be the perfect setting for a destination wedding. Surf or Sound Realty representatives were on hand to happily answer any questions about these or any of our premier vacation homes.

On Sunday, January 8th, Surf or Sound Realty joined over 200 wedding vendors at First Flight High School in Kill Devil Hills for the grand Outer Banks Wedding Expo. Surf or Sound Realty has premier beach wedding event homes that can accommodate 40 guests in a party to beach wedding event homes that can accommodate 100 guests in a party as well as an Event Coordinator to assist brides and help further promote Hatteras Island as a wedding destination. Wedding groups bring additional revenue and travel which can benefit every business on the island and throughout the Outer Banks.

For more information about renting an event home for your wedding, family reunion or special celebration, contact the Surf or Sound Realty Event Coordinator today!
800-237-1138 x 122 | rent@surforsound.com.