• Spring-time view of the seashore, with shorebirds returning to the surf.

    Cape Hatteras

    National Seashore North Carolina

Lighthouse Climbs

Bodie Island Lighthouse stairs

Bodie Island Lighthouse stairs

NPS

There are three historic lighthouses located in the park, two of which are open seasonally for climbing. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is open for self-guided climbs and the Bodie Island Lighthouse is open for guided climbs. The third lighthouse, the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse, is not open for climbing.

Safety and Rules
Please do your part to have a safe, enjoyable experience and follow these safety rules while visiting either lighthouse.

  • Children must be at least 42" tall and capable of climbing all steps on their own.
  • Children 11 years of age or younger must be accompanied by an adult who is 16 years of age or older.
  • No person may be lifted or carried.
  • Running, jumping, or stomping on stairs and landings is prohibited.
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke or chew tobacco.
  • No pets, other than service animals.
  • Do not arrive in heels over 1 ½ inches high or with bare feet.
  • Leave umbrellas in your car.
  • Backpacks, tripods, coolers, beach bags, surfboards, fishing poles, and the like also need to be left in your car.
  • Throwing of any object off the lighthouse is unsafe and may get you in big trouble! Either lighthouse may close at any time if weather conditions are unsafe.
What to Expect
Both climbs are strenuous!

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has 257 steps from the ground to the balcony level, equal to climbing a 12-story building. The narrow stairs have a handrail only on one side, two-way traffic, and a landing every 31 steps.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse has just over 200 steps from the ground to the top, equal to climbing a 10-story building. The narrow stairs have a handrail only on one side, one-way traffic, and 9 landings.

There is no air conditioning and no elevator in either lighthouse. It may be noisy, humid, hot and dim inside the lighthouses. Visitors with heart, respiratory or other medical conditions, or who have trouble climbing stairs, should use their own discretion as to whether to climb the lighthouses.
 
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

National Park Service

Climbing the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Climbing the historic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is a unique experience. The climb is self-paced and provides views from the tallest brick lighthouse in North America.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is open from the third Friday in April through Columbus Day. Climbing hours are 9 am to 4:30 pm daily in the spring and fall, and 9 am to 5:30 pm the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Tickets are required.

Tickets
Climbing tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for senior citizens (62 or older), children (11 and under, and at least 42" tall), and the disabled. Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis and can only be purchased in-person at the site the day of the climb. There are no advance ticket sales for regular climbs.

Ticket sales begin at 8:15 am and climbs begin at 9 am, running every 10 minutes with a limit of 30 visitors per climb. Ticket sales close at 4:30 pm in the spring and fall, and 5:30 pm the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Ticket holders should arrive at the base of the lighthouse five minutes prior to their ticketed climb time.

Special Night Climbs
Special night climbing tours are offered weekly during the summer months, on Thursdays from May 29th to August 28th, 2014. Check the schedule of events or park newspaper for the weekly tour schedule.

Ticket sales for the weekly night climbs may be purchased in person at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Ticket Booth beginning two days before the tour. Advanced purchase of tickets is required, and the tickets do sell out fast, so be sure to stop by as soon as they go on sale.

School Group Climbs
Climbing tours may be booked in advance for some school groups.
 
Bodie Island Lighthouse

Bodie Island Lighthouse

National Park Service

Climbing the Bodie Island Lighthouse
At Bodie Island, you have the chance to climb the lighthouse with a ranger and learn about the history of the lighthouse, the people who operated them, and the surroundings.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse guided climb season is from the third Friday in April to Columbus Day in early October. Guided climbs will run from 9 am to 5:45 pm daily. Climbs start every 35 minutes and are 45 minutes long. Each guided climb is limited to 22 people.

Tickets
Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for senior citizens (62 or older), children 11 years of age and under, and the disabled. Tour tickets may be purchased on site on the day of the tour or may be reserved in advance.

Due to tour limitations, educational fee waivers for school groups are not offered for Bodie Island Lighthouse tours.

Day of Tour Tickets
50% of all tours for each day will be sold on site. Day of tour tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis and can only be purchased in-person at the site the day of the tour. Day of tour tickets will be available from 8:30 am to 5:45 pm starting the third Friday in April.

Reserved Tickets
50% of all tours for each day will be sold in advance. Starting the third Friday in April, reservations for a tour can only be made between one to seven days in advance of the tour date by calling 252-475-9417. The reservation office is open starting
the third Friday in April from 11 am to 4 pm, seven days a week. Reservations cannot be made the same day as the tour date.
 
Bodie Island Lighthouse Light during a full moon climb

Bodie Island Lighthouse Light

National Park Service

Full Moon Climbs
For 2014, from May through October, monthly full moon climbs are being offered at both the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Bodie Island Lighthouse.

Tickets for the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse full moon climbs may be purchased in person at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Ticket Booth. Tickets for the Bodie Island Lighthouse full moon climbs may be purchased in person at the Bodie Island Visitor Center. Tickets for these climbs go on sale beginning two days before the climb. Advanced purchase of tickets is required, and the tickets do sell out fast, so be sure to stop by as soon as they go on sale.

Full Moon Climbs First Climb Second Climb
Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 8:00 pm 9:00 pm
Friday, June 13th, 2014 8:30 pm 9:30 pm
Saturday, July 12th, 2014 8:30 pm 9:30 pm
Sunday, August 10th, 2014 8:00 pm 9:00 pm
Monday, September 8th, 2014 7:30 pm 8:30 pm
Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 7:00 pm 8:00 pm

Did You Know?

Ocracoke Inlet was one of the most heavily traveled inlets in the 1700s.

In the 1700s, Ocracoke Inlet was one of the busiest inlets in the East. It was one of the few navigable waterways for ships accessing inland ports such as Elizabeth City, Edenton or New Bern. It was here that Blackbeard the pirate found the inlet's heavy shipping traffic ripe for easy pickings.