There are three historic lighthouses located in the park. The Bodie Island Lighthouse is open seasonally for self-guided climbs. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is currently closed for climbing and will likely not open in 2023, due to restoration efforts; outdoor areas near the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse are open 24/7. The Ocracoke Island Lighthouse is not open for climbing but the base is open periodically for viewing.
Safety and Rules
Please do your part to have a safe, enjoyable experience and follow these safety rules while visiting the lighthouses. Any visit to Cape Hatteras comes with potential hazards. Learn the simple steps you can take to improve your safety.
For lighthouse climbs:
What to Expect
Lighthouse climbs are strenuous!
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 the lighthouse. It may be noisy, humid, hot and dim inside the lighthouse. 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 lighthouse.
Climbers can bring water in a non-glass, sealable container.
Climbing the Bodie Island Lighthouse
At Bodie Island, you have the chance to climb the lighthouse at your own pace and take in the gorgeous natural surroundings of Bodie Island, the Atlantic Ocean, and Pamlico Sound.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse will be open for climbing April 26-October 9, 2023.
TicketsClimbing tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for senior citizens (62 or older), children 11 years of age and under, and the disabled. Climb tickets are available on a first come, first served basis and can only be purchased from www.recreation.gov. Tickets go on sale at 7am for that day's climbs only. Tickets may only be purchased on the same day of your intended climb.
You MUST be at the lighthouse at least 5 minutes prior to your ticket time. Refunds are not given for no shows or late arrivals.
Due to climb limitations, educational fee waivers for school groups are not offered for Bodie Island Lighthouse climbs.
Full Moon ClimbsWhen available, Bodie Island Lighthouse Full Moon Climbs can be reserved via www.recreation.gov starting at 7:00 am the day of the climb. You must have a Recreation.gov account established before you can purchase tickets.
Climbing the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is currently closed for climbing and will likely not open in 2023, due to restoration efforts. Outdoor areas near the lighthouse are open 24/7.
New virtual experiences are available for visitors to virtually experience climbing the lighthouse and enjoy the breathtaking view from the top.
Lighthouse Ticket Policies
The Outer Banks experiences various inclement weather conditions that may affect your lighthouse climb. In the event of a lighthouse closure, ticket holders will automatically receive a refund within 48 hours of the canceled climb.
In the event of a thunderstorm:
Rangers will monitor the weather. If there is lightning within 10 miles of the lighthouse OR you can hear thunder, climbs are canceled. Climbs will resume 30 minutes after the last lightning strike or thunder heard in the area.
In the event of high heat:
If the heat index inside the lighthouse reaches 103°F or higher, climbs are canceled. The heat index is the combined values of temperature and relative humidity that result in a perceived feel of air temperature. Climbs will resume after the heat index falls to 101°F.
In the event of high wind:
Rangers monitor the wind conditions on the balcony throughout the day. If the wind speeds are constant at 35 mph or higher OR there are gusts of wind above 40 mph, the balcony will be closed. Ticketholders will still be allowed to climb the lighthouse to the top level and look out the gallery door.
In the event of tornados or waterspouts:
During a tornado watch the lighthouse will remain open for climbing if the wind speeds at the balcony allow (see high wind).
If there is a tornado warning or waterspout sighting climbs are canceled. Rangers will monitor the weather and provide updates. Climbs will resume once the area is clear of the severe weather.
Last updated: May 19, 2023