Frequently Asked Questions
Vehicles: All vehicles used in the park must have a current vehicle registration, license tag, and the operators must have a current driver's license. Operation of a vehicle off paved roads requires a permit.
Horses: Horses may be ridden only on the ocean beach seaward of the existing dunes, on vehicular beach access routes, along road shoulders, or across paved routes where travel is necessary to cross to, or from, beach or beach access routes. Riders must clean up behind their horses--this includes both droppings and hay/feed--whether in parking lots, on access routes, or on the beach.
Swimming: Tides, rip currents and strong waves make ocean swimming extremely hazardous.
Pet Policy: Dogs, cats, or other pets are prohibited throughout the park unless crated, caged, on a six-foot leash, or otherwise under physical restraint. Pets are prohibited on designated swimming beaches. Pets running at large will be apprehended and returned to their owner, if known and located, or delivered to the local animal shelter for disposal in accordance with local procedures. Guide dogs for the visually impaired are permitted to remain with their owners at all times.
Fishing - Boating: Surf, sound, and pier fishing is excellent in the spring and fall. Fishing tackle may be rented at most tackle and bait stores. There are several marinas in the area which offer charter, head-boat services and have boat launching ramps. National Park Service boat launching ramps are located near the Oregon Inlet Marina and near SilverLake on OcracokeIsland.
Beach Fires: Beach Fires require a permit.
Weather: For current weather conditions contact the National Weather Service at (252) 223-5737 or on the Internet.
Nature/Hiking Trails: Signed nature trails in the Seashore include: Hammock Hills Nature Trail (OcracokeIsland), Buxton Woods Nature Trail (Hatteras Island), and Bodie Island Dike Trail (BodieIsland).
Personal Watercraft: The trailering, launching or landing of PWCs on any NPS ocean or soundside beaches, public boat ramps at Oregon Inlet and OcracokeIsland, and operation of PWCs within the boundaries of Cape Hatteras National Seashore is prohibited.
Firearms: For information on firearms, see our Law and Policy page.
Did You Know?
The U.S.S. Monitor sank off Cape Hatteras during a storm in December 1862. The wreck's location was a mystery until 1973 when a research vessel found the ship 16 miles off the cape in 230 feet of water. In 1975, the Monitor was named the nation’s first National Marine Sanctuary.