Lighthouse Climbs

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Bodie Island Lighthouse at sunrise
Sunrise at the Bodie Island Lighthouse

NPS Photo / K. Moses

 

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse climbing will not be possible in September 2021. A public announcement will be made if climbing is possible in October.


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


Please do your part to have a safe, enjoyable experience and follow these safety rules while visiting either lighthouse. Any visit to Cape Hatteras comes with potential hazards. Learn the simple steps you can take to improve your safety.
For lighthouse climbs:
  • 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.

 
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 at your own pace and take in the gorgeous natural surroundings of Bodie Island, the Atlantic Ocean, and Pamlico Sound.

For the 2021 summer season, the Bodie Island Lighthouse is open to climbing 7 days a week beginning May 13th through Columbus Day. First climb begins at 9am, and final climb is 5:30pm.

Tickets

Climbing 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 tour time. Refunds are not given if you are late, and your spot may be given to someone else.

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

Full Moon Tours

Bodie Island Lighthouse Full Moon Tours can be reserved via 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.

2021 Full Moon Climb Dates:

  • June 24
  • July 23
  • August 22
  • September 20
 
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 normally open from the third Friday in April through Columbus Day. Climbing hours are 9 am to 4:30 pm daily. Tickets are required. See information above for current status of climbing operations. Several virtual experiences are available during the restoraton project.

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 9:00 am and climbs begin at 9 am, running every 10 minutes with a limit of 30 visitors per climb. Ticket sales close at 4:25 pm. Ticket holders should arrive at the base of the lighthouse five minutes prior to their ticketed climb time.

School Group Climbs

Climbing tours may be booked in advance for some school groups.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse climbing fees may be waived for educational groups visiting the park as part of their accredited curriculum. The fee waiver application and associated materials must be submitted at least four weeks prior to your visit.


Full Moon Tours

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Full Moon Tours can be reserved via Recreation.gov starting at 10:00 am three days before the tour date. You must have a Recreation.gov account established before you can purchase tickets.

There are currently no dates for 2021 Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Full Moon Tours.

 

Lighthouse Ticket Policies


All tickets must be in advance purchased from www.recreaton.gov. You must be at the base of the lighthouse at least 5 minutes prior to tour start. If you are late, you may be denied entry and no refunds will be given. Refunds are only given during weather closures, outlined below.

The Outer Banks experiences various inclement weather conditions that may affect your lighthouse climb. In the event of a lighthouse closure, ticketholders will receive an automatic refund from Recreation.gov within 48 hours of the cancelled climb.

In the event of a thunderstorm:

Rangers will monitor the weather. If there is lightening within 10 miles of the lighthouse OR you can hear thunder, climbs are cancelled. 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 cancelled. 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. If the heat index in the base of the lighthouse remains below 103°F it will remain open for viewing.

In the event of high wind:

Rangers monitor the wind conditions on the balcony throughout the day. If the wind speeds are constant at 35mph or higher OR there are gusts of wind above 40mph, climbs are cancelled. Climbs will resume once the wind speed drops below 35mph or there are no more gusts over 40mph.

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 cancelled. Rangers will monitor the weather and provide updates. Climbs will resume once the area is clear of the severe weather.

Last updated: September 20, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Cape Hatteras National Seashore
1401 National Park Drive

Manteo, NC 27954

Phone:

(252) 473-2111

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