Jockey's Ridge State Park

For lovers of desert-like conditions, Jockey’s Ridge State Park is the place for you. Stretching over 427 acres, the park hosts the largest active sand dunes east of the United States. It is located in Dare County, North Carolina.

 

The park does not charge admission, parking or program fees. You can reserve some facilities such as picnic shelters. These are available on a first come first serve basis. They are free of charge. The auditorium can also be reserved for larger events. It can host up to one hundred people.
 
Visitors are encouraged to carry their own drinking water as there is no fresh water in the park.
 

Ecology

The Outer Banks are known for its natural resources. Some of the natural features at Jockey’s Ridge include;
 
· The big dune
 

The largest natural active sand dune system is in Jockey’s ridge. The area faces shifting maritime winds. These blow the land particles in all directions. The result is sand dunes that can go as high as 60 feet.

· Flora (Plant Life)

Despite the strong winds, some plant life has prevailed. Some of the existing plants in the park are;

§ American beachgrass

 
§ Wax myrtle
 
§ Bayberry
 
§ Red cedar
 
§ Live oak
 
§ Red bay
 
§ Southern red oaks
 
§ Sweet gums
 
§ Loblolly pines
 
There is a forest of shrubs present. They grow along Roanoke Sound. Salt and freshwater merge at Roanoke Sound into an estuary. This leads to a number of maritime plantations.
 
· Fauna (Animal life)
 
Tracks of animals can be noticed by early hikers. These include;
 
§ Rabbits
 
§ Foxes
 
§ Lizards
 
There are other wild animals at the park. They include; raccoons, mice, muskrats and opossums. They get their water from pools that form when it rains.
 
There are a lot of birds in the park. They are more prominent towards the end of summer. The bird population consists of;
 
§ Sparrows
 
§ Warblers
 
§ Flycatchers
 

Trails

Hiking is a huge attraction for Jockey’s Ridge State Park. There are many trails to choose from, including;
 
1. Boardwalk
 
This trail is behind the visitor center. It offers a partial view of the dunes and ends at a deck. The trail is lined with curved oak branches. Tracks from wildlife are a common sight. You can continue exploring the dunes or remain satisfied with the views.
 
The trail is 0.07 miles long and is an easy hike for beginners.
 
2. Soundside Nature Trail
 
The tall dunes hide the trail from strong winds. It is a short walk through a maritime thicket.
 
Plants on this trail are different from other park areas. This is because they do not face the strong northeast winds.
 
This trail allows hikers to easily access the dunes and the Roanoke Sound. It is perfect for exploring and adventure.
 
3. Tracks in the Sand Trail
 
Experienced hikers can take the Tracks in the Sand Trail. There are brochures available for hikers. You can go without a guide to view some of the tallest sand dunes in the park.
 
The trail is 1.20 miles long.

Activities

Jockey’s Park is open all year round except on Christmas. There is a myriad of activities that people may partake which include:
 
· Sunset viewing over the Roanoke sounds
 
 
· Kite- flying
 
· A museum
 
· Hang-gliding
 
· Hiking
 
· Picnicking
 
· Swimming
 
· Boat riding/ paddling
 

Events and Programs

Jockey’s Ridge State Park holds many events for visitors. There are many educational opportunities for all. These programs allow the public to learn about the beauty of state parks in North Carolina. The events are free, unless stated otherwise. Some of the programs may require participants to register early. The organized events and programs are;

1. Dune Hike

With a ranger as your guide, you can climb the ridge. The dune hike is an opportunity to learn about the main attraction. There is a breathtaking view that is sure to be a memorable experience.

The program can accept 25 people for each hike. It takes a total of 45 minutes.

2. Reptiles of the Ridge, Cool Creatures

Reptiles are the largest population at the park. They slither in the sand. Since they are cold blooded creatures, the hot temperatures are suitable for them.

The program accepts a maximum of 10 individuals. Participants meet at the Visitor Center auditorium to start. It takes 30 minutes to complete.

3. Hawk Watch Table Exhibit

The seasonal Hawk Watch is a great learning experience. A ranger takes participants through a brief discussion of the birds. You will also learn about raptor species and their migration patterns.

The maximum number of participants is 25. The program takes an hour.

4. Dunes of the World Exhibit

In addition to learning about the dunes at the park, you can learn of those in the world. This program allows people to engage with information from across the globe. You will learn about many unique landscapes and discover more.

The program accepts 25 participants at a time. It takes an hour to complete.

5. Soundside Nature Trail Hike

This hike involved a guided tour of the Soundside Nature Trail. The hike is a mile long and takes about 45 minutes.

The ranger guides at a leisurely pace, making it comfortable for children. Unlock your sense of adventure with a hike through nature.

6. Native American Sports and Games

You can challenge rangers to a fun round of games. All games are Native American and allow participants to appreciate the people. One great game is Algonquian atlatl. It was a method the Native Americans used to hunt for food.

The games take an hour. There is a 25 people limit on participating.

 
Jockey’s Ridge State Park is a haven of outdoor activities. You can take part in hang gliding or hike the trails. There is a lot to explore and discover at the park. It is the perfect location for sightseeing and experiencing great views of nature. You have to remember to carry comfortable walking shoes. Sunscreen is also a recommended carry. This is because you will spend a lot of time outdoors and in the sun. The park offers nature trails in a unique and educational manner. Visitors experience and learn about the grassy dunes, wetlands and maritime thickets.