People and Places with Pierce: Jockey’s Ridge State Park

NAGS HEAD, N.C. (WNCT) – “This is a unique natural feature that draws people from all over the world to see it and with good reason,” says Debo Cox, park superintendent at Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

Driving along the Outer Banks on Croatan Highway, it’s hard to miss the highest point in Nags Head: the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

“We came down here with the family from New Jersey to stay in the Outer Banks,” said Jon Turner. “We decided to come out to Jockey’s Ridge to see. We heard about the big sand dunes and the hang gliding and all the kites that are out here so we came to see what it was all about.”

Standing at nearly 100 feet tall, the largest natural dunes on the East Coast were almost lost forever.

“There was a lady, Carolista Baum, who was out here walking with her kids, and there was a bulldozer and there was gonna be some development that was going to take place,” said Cox. “And so Carolista got together a group called the People to Preserve Jockey’s Ridge and in 1975 this became a state park.”

A park that’s much more than just mountains of sand.

“I think people who come here often are not prepared for how spectacular it is,” remarked Cox. “Kids run up and down the dunes, they slide down on boogie boards. There’s some hiking that takes place, kite flying, all kinds of outdoor activities.”

“It gave a good idea of what it was like walking through the desert,” said Turner. “There’s nothing but sand all around you then all of the sudden you come up to the top of the hill.”

It’s quite a hike, but it’s one that’s definitely worth it for the spectacular 360-degree views from the top. You can see the Atlantic Ocean and Nags Head all the way over to the Roanoke Sound.

“We found a nice steep spot and he went running down the hill and took a couple tumbles,” said Turner about his son. “On purpose of course but he had a good time. He’s got sand in just about every place you could figure out that there’s sand. But it was a good time to watch.”

“If you skip Jockey’s Ridge, you’re gonna be missing one of North Carolina’s most treasured places and definitely one of the most spectacular attractions on the Outer Banks,” said Cox.

The Outer Banks has developed into a major tourist attraction over the years. But Jockey’s Ridge is still a place where you can experience the Outer Banks as it once was.


We’re always looking for your story ideas for People & Places with Pierce. If you have an interesting person or place you’d like to see featured, email Pierce or send him a message on Facebook or Twitter.


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