Off the Road, and on the Beach

Basics of Beach Driving

Exploring the seashore from your 4WD vehicle, with your family and your beach gear comfortably along for the ride, can be a fun and convenient way to head to the beach.

Beach Driving is allowed via access ramps up and down the island, from the north side of Oregon Inlet, to Hatteras Village’s Pole Road, the most southern point of Hatteras Island. Look for the brown vehicle signs adjacent to public parking areas for off road ramp access, or visit the NPS website, http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/off-road-vehicle-use.htm for a comprehensive map of ramps, as well as NPS rules, regulations and guidelines. The Park Service will occasionally restrict an access point, so keep an eye out for signs marking closures and please be respectful of them.

As you embark on your off road adventure, be sure and follow these simple guidelines:

Before you hit the road:
– Make sure you are using a properly licensed and registered 4WD vehicle. All terrain vehicles (ATVs), dune buggies, and other unlicensed vehicles are not permitted.
– Make sure you bring a tire gauge. Pull into a parking area and lower the air pressure in your tires to 20 psi or less. Do not let air out of your tires on the ramps, as you may be a hazard to people driving on and off the beach.
– Once you have left the beach, you can put air back into your tires at most local gas stations and convenience stores. Simply look for the air hose adjacent to the store.

Once you’re on the sand:
– Observe all posted speed limits, (generally 15 mph unless otherwise posted.)
– Do not drive through the surf as salt water can damage your vehicle. Instead, follow the “tracks” made by other drivers.
– Do not drive on the sand dunes or in any NPS restricted areas, typically marked with small signs and string fencing.
– If you do get stuck, do not spin your tires to try to force your way out. Instead, use a shovel to remove sand from your tires and create a path you can drive through, or call a local towing company to pull you out.

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