This North Carolina State Park Beach Is Home To A Miniature Desert – TheTravel

Experience breathtaking views and some thrilling activities at the tallest active sand dune on the Atlantic coast in North Carolina.
North Carolina is a wonderful place to enjoy the hot springs and the spellbinding Whitewater Falls. It’s a perfect place to explore its miniature desert – Jockey's Ridge, known to be the remaining dunes on the Outer Banks reaching 100 feet tall at times.
Jockey’s Ridge is a wonderful place to enjoy the tallest active sand dune system in the Eastern United States. During winter, the wind blows from the northeast, while in summer, it blows from the southwest, which means that the sand is always blown back and forth. Since the ridge is constantly changing, many refer to it as ‘The Living Dune.’ On the other hand, the name "Jockey’s Ridge" probably originates from the early inhabitants’ practice of capturing wild ponies and riding them on the sand dunes.
The 427-acre Jockey's Ridge State Park was established in 1975, thanks to the tireless efforts of many locals who emancipated to protect the area's unique geological values. As there were several developments threatening the environment, one local named Carolista Baum mustered the courage to investigate the situation. She stood firm in the path of a bulldozer on the construction site, and eventually, that forced the operator to shut down the machine. From that point, many joined the force to protect the area, and as a result, land for the park was bought through local nations and from many organizations.
Many geologists believe that the sand dunes were formed when strong water currents from hurricanes and storms washed sand from large offshore shoals onto the beach. With time, the wind picked up the sand and blew it inland, which consequently created the dunes that now span along the Outer Banks coastline. Some researchers believe that sand dunes were formed around 3,000 to 4,000 years ago.
Today, many visitors come here with their families to enjoy the unspoiled setting and the amazing view of the surroundings, including the vast ocean, Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills towns. However, the majority of them come here to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, kite flying, hang gliding, sandboarding, and sunset viewing. Others also like to combine a luxurious stay in one of its many campsites while taking advantage of its beautiful topography made up of mountain towns and stunning beaches such as Wrightsville Beach.
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Jockey’s Ridge State Park consists of three main ecosystems, namely: the dunes, the maritime thicket, and the Roanoke Sound Estuary.
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When it comes to Jockey’s Ridge, visitors will be pampered by numerous activities. Right at the visitor’s center, there is a museum where many will be able to learn about the fauna and flora of the park, the geological features, and the local maritime history.
Visitors will be able to access the ridge area either from the back deck of the visitor center or the parking lot via the 350-foot-long (110 m) boardwalk.
Besides, there are also some fun activities to indulge in. One of the popular activities is hand-gliding. There is an on-site school that provides hand-gliding lessons in the park. Bird watching, kite flying, and sand boarding are other activities available. Some visitors also come here to view the spectacular sunset view over the mainland, where the golden hues are reflected in Roanoke Sound. Visitors who want to try kayaking, windsurfing, and swimming can access Soundside Road.
Facilities include:
Opening Hours:
Note: During summer, the environment can be quite harsh due to its high temperature, so it is important to bring drinking water. Also, there are no campgrounds.
Heyleena is a passionate travel writer, who enjoys sharing tips and recommendations. Get inspired through her articles and head to your next travel destination!