Due to an interior paint removal project, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse will not be available to climb until at least later this summer. An announcement on the status of climbing operations will be made in July 2021.
There are three historic lighthouses located in the park. Both the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Bodie Island Lighthouse are open seasonally for self-guided climbs. The third lighthouse, the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse, is not open for climbing.
Safety and Rules
- You MUST be at the lighthouse at least 5 minutes prior to your tour time. Refunds are not given if you are late, and your spot may be given to someone else.
- Each climber must be at least 42" (107 cm) tall and capable of climbing all steps on his or her 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 (except water), smoke or chew tobacco.
- No pets allowed.
- Shoes required; No bare feet or heels over 1-½" (3.8 cm) high.
- Leave umbrellas, backpacks, tripods, coolers, beach bags, surfboards, fishing poles, and the like 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.
Bodie Island Lighthouse climbers need to be aware of these additional safety rules:
- Each climber must weight less than 260 lbs. (118 kg).
- Only one person at a time is allowed on each flight of stairs—no climbing in pairs or groups.
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 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.
Climbers can bring water in a non-glass, sealable container.