23. The Dune! Visit Jockey’s Ridge

hang glidingAlmost everyone who stays on the Outer Banks for any length of time will, at some point, drive past a large sand dune on the west side of the highway.  On any given day kites of many descriptions float gently in the breeze, and hang gliders soar from the crest to land gently in the sand below. Not only is this the largest natural sand dune on the east coast, but North Carolina made it into “Jockey’s Ridge State Park.” As the seasons change the wind patterns change the shape of the dune making it higher or lower and sometimes even resulting in two dunes.

Bring the family and make the trek to the top of the dune just to say you’ve been there! What a view – the ocean with its pelicans and gulls to the east – the sound with its wind surfers and kayakers to the west. Children can run down the dune, and jump in the sand, and roll to the bottom, all without getting a scratch. A gentle breeze cools the air above the warm sand. A special area for sand-boarding is open from October to March.

Nature lovers may want to take a 1.5 mile self-guided hiking trail that focuses on the harsh, yet fragile dune environment along with its plants and animals. Another 1 mile nature trail leads to an overlook. It focuses on the estuary and scrub thicket ecosystems in the park. An alternative to walking on the sand is a long boardwalk which offers information about the plants and animals in the area.

For those who crave excitement, take a hang gliding lesson! If you have your own glider and a Hang 1 rating card you can register with the Park Office and soar off the ridge into the wind. When the breeze gets stronger kite flyers fly stunt kites which soar and zoom at a breathtaking pace!

If your passion is water sports, Jockey’s Ridge provides swimming in the sound with its clear warm water. Kayaking provides a low cost way of getting out on the water without the noise of a motor. With a steady breeze, windsurfers speed over the water with unlimited energy to propel their boards over the waves.

One of the most beautiful times on the dunes comes at sunset. The cooler evening air approaches while the sand retains some warmth from the day. Toward the horizon with the setting sun come the myriad of colors in the clouds which slowly deepen as the sun sinks below the horizon. From the yellows to orange to dark red and then violet, you will marvel that such great beauty could come from the top of Jockey’s Ridge. http://www.jockeysridgestatepark.com/

Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates – Come Experience the Fun and Beauty of a Carefree Family Vacation on the Outer Banks! Start your Outer Banks Tradition with Us – 4607 N. Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk – (252) 261-4444 or (800) 552-6257