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Must See National Park Sites in the Outer Banks

The Outer banks (OBX) of North Carolina is a great place to vacation during the summer, but also includes several must see National Park Sites. 

We bought our first blue passport book on this trip at the Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center.  Initially, it was just a small investment to record the stamps and our visit.  The stamps are posted at the bottom of this post, and you will notice they are all crooked and not evenly stamped.  The perils of allowing a 4-year-old and 9-year-old stamp the book. These were our first stamps, and we were not sure what we were doing.  While I would not catch the ‘bug’ to visit all the NPS sites until later, this was still a special visit.

Panoramic views of skyline from Wright Brothers National Memorial
View from Wright Brothers National Memorial

There are four units in the area of the Outer banks, and we were able to easily see three of them during our weekend.  The Cape Lookout was several hours to the south, which was just too far to drive on such a short visit.

#Park Unit NameLocation
1Wright Brothers National MemorialKill Devil Hills, NC
2Fort Raleigh National Historic SiteManteo, NC
3Cape Hatteras National SeashoreVarious
4Cape Lookout National SeashoreCape Lookout, NC
National Park Sites in the Outerbanks NC

Driving only a small amount of time in the state of North Carolina, you will be hard pressed not to know that it was here, that the Wright Brothers had their ‘First Flight’.  The standard license plate as the image, so it is all over the place!  Visiting the actual site and getting a sense of what actually occurred there was really impressive.  What they accomplished was world shattering and certainly a triumph for the pair of bicycle mechanics!

As I recall, climbing the memorial to Orville and Wilbur was pretty neat.  It was well worth the effort with the amazing view over to the ocean and the park itself it provided.  The kids gravitated toward the life size statue/model of the plane, which also had a cheering audience as well (ha)! 

This was one of our first parks, so really don’t have good shots of the monument, unfortunately. I believe the visitor center was also going under renovations, so we were mainly outside except for a small bookstore in a portable building.

Just south of the Wright Brother NM, you will find Jockey’s Ridge state park.  While note technically a NPS site, this is a must see.  While not much to ‘do’, being able to climb massive sand dunes and get an awesome view of the area in the middle of Nags Head is pretty neat.  This area was nearly lost to development, but local heroes convinced the politicians to save the area for future generations.

Roaming Monk Tip:  While in the area make sure to stop into Tortugas’ Lie, an awesome seafood restaurant in Nags Head!  They do not take reservations, but they turn tables pretty quick!

Cape Hatteras is very long, and not only encompasses the northern island, but also south to Ocracoke Island as well.  We visited Bodie lighthouse, which is just south of Manteo and the seashore, but did not venture further south to Hatteras or across the water to Ocracoke.  If you have time for the ferry ride, it is a great visit, as the Ocracoke lighthouse is very unique compared to Hatteras Light house and Bodie.  An additional plus is the lack of development and has much fewer people than in Nags Head/Kitty Hawk/Kill Devil Hills.

The Bodie Lighthouse is set back from the main street and has plenty of parking and land around the area.  A lovely trail also takes you through wetlands and affords a different view of the lighthouse while sharing the unique wildlife and environment of the seashore.  We were able to see blue crabs in the water from the boardwalk and plenty of birds.

Wetlands around Bodie Island light station with waterway
Wetlands around Bodie Island Lighthouse

Timed tickets are available for you to walk up the lighthouse and catch a view from the top.

Just across the bridge to Manteo, the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is very close by the other units. The site holds the first known English settlement in the ‘New World’.

Boy making a pose in the mounds at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

The earthen works from the settlements are still visible and you can take a hike through them. You can even set a very unique pose for a picture, just like my son performed. Not really sure what he is doing but he was clearly enjoying himself.

Overall, any visit to the Outer banks during the summer (and before hurricane season!) is a lot of fun. Beach time, and enjoying the water is always nice. Adding in visits to these must-see National Park Sites in the Outer banks of North Carolina expands on the experience and we will no doubt continue to do so into the future. Next step is Cape Lookout National Seashore! 

Stamp at Wright Brother National memorial Kill Devil Hills, NC

Unit: Wright Brothers National Memorial

Path to 428+: 13

Region: Southeast

Month/Year: Aug 2018

Unit: Fort Raleigh National Historical Site

Path to 428+: 14

Region: Southeast

Month/Year: Aug 2018

National park Cancellation stamp of Fort Raleigh NHS
Stamp for Cape Hatteras National Seashore Bodie Island NC

Unit: Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Path to 428+: 15

Region: Southeast

Month/Year: Aug 2018

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Delicate Arch on clear day blue sky

Check out original photos in the Roaming Monk gallery!

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