Jockey's Ridge State Park

Jockey's Ridge State Park ~ Nags Head, NC

Visitors who travel to Hatteras Island through the central Outer Banks towns of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head are introduced to one of the Outer Bank’s natural wonders, Jockey’s Ridge. This state park features the tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern United States, and is considered a significant landmark on the Outer Banks.

The sand dune itself attracts plenty of Outer Banks visitors, especially at sunset when the dune comes to life with kites and kids rolling down the face of the dunes. There are also the adventurous types who dare to hang glide from the top of these sandy hills. But even if you’re not soaring through the air, there are plenty of natural ways to enjoy Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Find them online at

Cape Hatteras Activities in Jockey's Ridge State Park

Hang Gliding

One of the most spectacular sights on Jockey's Ridge State Park is a hang glider pilot soaring for hours on the natural updraft created by an East wind. Similar to the way seagulls soar bridges and hotels, these skilled pilots are able to seemingly hang in the air for hours. More commonly seen however, are simple flights down the face of the dunes. Jockey Ridge State Park hang glidingMany people wonder if a pilot can fly out of the park on a hang glider, and the answer to that is no. The current height of the dunes restricts the amount of lift produced and hence the altitude a pilot can achieve and so limits the distance they can fly.

Hang gliding is allowed on the dunes in Jockey’s Ridge State Park only for visitors with a USHGA Hang 1 or other approved rating card or permit, and all hang glider pilots must register with the park office before taking flight. Lessons are available from Kitty Hawk Kites at the Hang Gliding School inside the park near the Visitor Center. These daily lessons enable anyone to learn how to fly just like the Wright Brothers did over 100 years ago, in a glider on dunes just like these just a few miles away. It may sound like a lot of work, but if you want to experience one of the best things to do at the Outer Banks, it's completely worth it!

Kite Flying

The views are great from the top of Jockey’s Ridge, and naturally, so is the wind. Pick up a kite or two, and bring the whole family for some of the best kite flying on the East Coast. Best of all, this is one activity that the whole family can enjoy.

Hiking Trails in Jockey's Ridge State Park

Tracks in the Sand is a 1.5 mile leisurely paced trail that begins at the Jockey’s Ridge parking lot and goes over the dunes, to the soundside, and back. Winding through the sand dunes, the trail is an introduction to plants Jockey Ridge State Park, NC mapand wildlife that calls this wild ecosystem home.

A 360-foot boardwalk is located close to this trail, and is a shorter exploration of the state park. Interpretive displays along the route offer information about the plants and animals in the area, and a deck with a bench is at the end with a great view of the sand dunes.

Soundside Nature Trail is ideal for those who are in the mood for a more vigorous hike. This 1 mile loop begins at the soundside parking lot leads to an overlook and encircles the estuary and scrub thicket ecosystems found at the park.

Trust us; if you're looking for amazing Hatteras Island Activities, or just some of the best things to do at the Outer Banks, you're in the right place. Contact us today to learn more, or to book your Hatteras Island vacation rental today!