Beach Driving Permit


Off-Road Vehilce Permit

Bringing your vehicle to the beach this season? Don’t forget to purchase your ORV (Off-Road Vehicle) permit! ORV permits must be purchased online through

The permit is valid for the calendar year and is required for driving on both North Core Banks and South Core Banks. The upcoming season runs from mid-March through December 31. Permits purchased on or before March 15, 2024 will cost $25.00. Beginning on March 16, 2024, the permits will cost $50.00. If you purchase your permit between January 1st, and February 28th, your ORV decal will be mailed to you. For permits purchased after March 1st ,you must show your printed permit to a Park Ranger upon arrival to North or South Core Banks to receive your ORV decal. Each vehicle must have its own permit and decal. The printed permit must be stored in the vehicle while it is on the islands. The ORV decal must be displayed on the driver's side top corner of the vehicle windshield or on the driver's side front fender of an ATV/UTV. Managing off-road driving at Cape Lookout National Seashore through the use of permits helps protect important wildlife habitat and recreational interests. The cost of the ORV permits directly supports these management efforts.

Important Dates:

January 1, 2024 - March 14, 2024 No vehicles are allowed on North Core Banks (Portsmouth Island) or South Core Banks (Davis Island).
January 4, 2024 - March 15, 2024 ORV permits become available on From January 1st through March 15th, the cost is $25.00 for the calendar year.
March 15, 2024 - December 31, 2024 North Core Banks (Portsmouth Island) and South Core Banks (Davis Island) open to vehicles. ORV Permits are required to drive on these two islands.
March 16, 2024 - December 31, 2024 The cost of the ORV Permit goes up to $50.00 for the calendar year.

Note: A printed copy of the permit must be carried in the vehicle while it is on the island. To print out the ORV Permit, log onto your account. Go to My Reservations, click on Cape Lookout ORV permit, and select Print Permit.

Two vehicles and a camper on the sand. Three visitors stand in between the vehicles and the ocean. Multiple fishing poles stand in the sand
Surf fishermen with their vehicles.

NPS Photo

To obtain an ORV permit, your vehicle must:

  • Create a account

  • Be registered, licensed, and insured and comply with inspection requirements for the state, country, or province where the vehicle is registered.

  • ATVs/UTVs are not required to be licensed or insured in the state of NC. When purchasing an ORV permit for an ATV or UTV, please enter your driver's license number when asked for a license plate.

  • Watch a short educational video on off-road driving at Cape Lookout shown below.

Receiving Your ORV Decal:

If you purchase your ORV permit between January 1st - February 28th your ORV decal will be sent to you in the mail. Be sure to include your mailing address when purchasing your permit. For ORV permits purchased on or after March 1st, your decal will be issued upon arrival on the islands. They can only be issued at the Great Island Cabin Camp Office (daily from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm), the Harkers Island Visitor Center (email to schedule an appointment), or by Law Enforcement Park Rangers upon showing the printed ORV Permit purchased from Failure to have the window decal while driving on the island may result in a citation. Decal must be displayed on driver's side left top corner of the windshield or the front left fender on an ATV/UTV.

Two ATV riders drive on the beach. The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is in the background, between the two riders.
Two ATV riders wear the proper safety equipment while riding on the beach

NPS/Sabrina Godin

Note: If you attempt to print the permit from your phone or mobile device, it will print blank. If you do not have access to a printer, ask the rangers in the cabin office to print your permit for you. All visitors who are driving on North Core need to print their permit before arriving to the island. Park Rangers are unable to print their permits.

Additional Information: Be aware that the Cape Lookout National Seashore ORV Driving Permit is not the same as the ORV permit purchased for Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Long term parking is not included with the purchase of an ORV permit. If you are going to leave your vehicle in one of the long-term parking lots, you still need to obtain a long-term parking permit.
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3 minutes, 49 seconds

Information on safely driving on the beaches and sand trails of the barrier islands within Cape Lookout National Seashore. This video must be viewed as part of obtaining an ORV driving permit for the barrier islands within the park.


Questions about Off-Road Vehicles Permits?

Contact us by email.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before you bring your vehicle to the islands, read through the frequently asked questions to esnure you know all the driving regulations 

Last updated: March 18, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

131 Charles St
Harkers Island, NC 28531


252 728-2250

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