UPDATE! A few days ago I wrote a post about a new NPS regulation requiring permits for all ORVs to access Outer Banks beaches (see below). Soon thereafter, The Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance filed a lawsuit against the new regulation. The NPS says it was done to protect turtles, shorebirds, and other wildlife. The alliance says there is no proof that off-road vehicles on the beach does any damage to wildlife. Environmental groups have already begun denouncing the lawsuit.

The National Park Service is initiating an ORV (off-road vehicle) plan for Outer Banks beaches. This new regulation will go into effect on February 15, 2012. Some things you need to know before you go:

  • Every vehicle must have its own ORV permit. No piggybacking off someone else’s permit.
  • You must not exceed the speed limit, which is 15mph, unless otherwise posted.
  • There are two types of permits: ($50) weekly and ($120) annually. Note: No day rate but there is limited access on Hatteras and Ocracoke beaches.
  • The permits may be obtained at NPS offices during normal business hours, seven days a week, at: Bodie Island at the north end of the Coquina Beach parking lot (8101 NC 12 Highway, Nags Head, NC); Hatteras Island by the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor Center (46368 Lighthouse Road, Buxton, NC); Ocracoke Island by the NPS visitor center (40 Irvin Garrish Highway, Ocracoke, NC).
  • You must have a valid driver’s license and vehicle registration. You will be required to fill out a form, pay the fee, and watch a brief educational video.
  • The permit must be prominently displayed on your vehicle while engaging in off-road driving. Maps are available that show designated ORV areas at the permit offices and OB visitor centers, as well as on their website, www.nps.gov/caha

For more information, call 252-473-2111 or visit the park website.

Guest Blogger, Terrance Zepke
Author of Coastal North Carolina and Ghosts and Legends of the Carolina Coasts