Horse Sense and Survival Tours

Horse Watching on Shackleford Banks at
Cape Lookout National Seashore

Park biologist, Dr Sue Stuska, expalins wild horse behavior to the group on a Horse Sense and Survival tour on Shackleford Banks

Join a Park Ranger for a glimpse into the world of the wild horses of Shackleford Banks.

Reservations & information: Cape Lookout (252) 728-2250 ext. 3001 and by e-mail. Call for more complete driving directions, a park site bulletin with a map, and answers to your questions.

Reservation Required with Cape Lookout National Seashore. After you make your reservation with the park, contact the ferry to make your reservation for the boat ride. Ferry fees are priced per round trip. A limited number of spaces are available. Please be on time.


2015 Tour Dates and Times

Month Day Date Departure
Meet Time Depart Time Re- Board Time Program End
June Sat. 27 Beaufort West end 8:45 am 9 am 1:30 pm 1:30 pm
July Sat. 11 Harkers Island East end 8:00 am 8:15 am 12:15 pm 12:45 pm
Sept. Sat. 12 Harkers Island East end 10 am 10:15 am 2:15 m 12:45 pm
Oct. Sat. 10 Harkers Island East end 10 am 10:15 am 1:45 pm 2:15 pm
Oct. Sun. 25 Harkers Island East end 9 am 9:15 am 12:45 pm 1:15 pm
Nov. Thurs.. 19 Beaufort West end 8:45 am 9 am 12:30 pm 1:00 pm
Nov. Sun. 22 Beaufort West end 8:45 am 9 am 1:30 pm 2:00 pm

Ferry Fees
Adult - $15
Child (11 and under) - $8


Reserve Your Place! Two steps are necessary:

  1. Contact Cape Lookout Visitor Center, Harkers Island, (252) 728-2250 ext. 3001 or We will answer your trip questions and take your tour reservation. Tell us that you have read or will read the trip information online or ask us to mail or email the information to you. You can also download the trip information packet.
  2. Call Island Express Ferry Service at (252) 728-RIDE (7433) and reserve your place on the ferry. Tell them that you will be participating in the horse program. (Please don't reserve on-line because this is a special ferry trip.)
Cost of the Ferry is $15 for adults & $8 for children (11 and under), payable at the time of the reservation; there is no fee for the program. A limited number of spaces are available. Reservations which are cancelled 48 hours or more ahead of the trip are refundable; to cancel a reservation, call BOTH the National Park Service and the Ferry Service. If conditions prevent the ferry from running refunds will be issued.

Departure will be from the Cape Lookout Visitor Center on Harkers Island (GPS use: 1800 Island Rd, Harkers Island, NC 28531) or the Cape Lookout Visitor Information Center located in the Beaufort Town Hall (701 Front St., Beaufort, NC 28516).

  • In Beaufort, parking along Front Street and in the waterfront parking lots is paid parking. Watch for spot numbers at the rear of the parking space and pay accordingly in kiosks on the sidewalks. Free parking is available in marked spaces on side streets.
  • On Harkers Island, parking in the Harkers Island Visitor Center lot is free.

Difficulty is moderate. The horses roam far and wide so we'll be walking to find them. We will be climbing dune hills, walking in loose sand, ducking through shrubs and winding through prickly needlerush. Trips from Harkers Island will likely include wading in salt water to our knees and slogging through heavy black marsh mud to our ankles. We will walk at a moderate pace and then stand or sit to watch the horses. In summer, be prepared for very high heat indexes -- dress in loose fitting clothes and bring extra water. In autumn if it's cold we'll do our best not to get wet. There are ticks on the island, so take normal precautions including a tick check when you get home.

Amenities on Shackleford Banks are few and not always handy, be prepared. Visitors arriving from Beaufort may use the dock's vertical ladder to unload or load the boat. They may also pass by the toilets (without washing facilities) on our walk. Visitors arriving from Harkers Island will find no toilets but many bushes on Shackleford Banks. The first steps off and to the boat may include wading.

Weather: Bad weather will only stop us if the ferry does not run. To check ferry status, you may call the ferry after 7 am on the day of the trip.

Footwear. Closed toe walking shoes are necessary to protect you feet from cacti, sand spurs and oysters. See the advisories about mud and salt water above under Difficulty. We advise bringing a change of socks and shoes for the drive home.

Remember to bring:

  • water and other drinks in a reclosable bottle
  • lunch & snacks
  • sturdy close-toed walking shoes that can get wet, salty & dirty and will protect from cactus, sand spurs & sharp oyster shells while wading (please no flip-flops)
  • hat
  • sunscreen
  • bug repellent (and do a tick check afterwards)
  • rain jacket (also for spray in the boat)
  • binoculars
  • camera with zoom (telephoto) lens
  • a change of socks & shoes for the drive home
  • daypack/shoulder bag to carry these items (hard sided coolers are too heavy and cumbersome to carry)

Did You Know?