It’s not about the destination but the journey. And the best kind of journey is a road trip! The Outer Banks Scenic Byway is perfect for an epic road trip.
The Outer Banks Scenic Byway is a National Scenic Byway. The byway has a starting point in the Outer Banks region. It ends in the Crystal Coast region. When traveling this secluded road, travelers can expect to pass through:
There are two national wildlife refuges. These are Pea Island and Cedar Island. The byway also includes Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout. These are two national seashores. The byway has 9 barrier islands. These islands serve as protection for the mainland. Protection from the dangers the Atlantic Ocean gives.
Six different sounds separate the barrier islands from the mainland. The smallest sound is 3-miles wide. The largest is 40-miles wide. These sounds are:
The byway begins at Whalebone Junction, North Carolina. Those traveling south on the byway will have the Atlantic Ocean on the east of them. In the west will be Pamlico Sound. The byway will cross over Bodie Island and Hatteras Island. It will cross over Ocracoke Island. Then Down East. This will end at the intersection of US 70 and Merrimon Road.
There are two ferry rides needed to complete the byway. The first is between the Hatteras Islands and Ocracoke Islands. This ferry ride is free. The second is not free. It is between Ocracoke Island and Downs East Cedar Island. The scenic byway will reach its end in Beaufort. This is in the Down East region of North Carolina. The Outer Banks National Scenic Byway is 142.5 driving miles in length. The driving time is about 6.5 hours. 3.5 of those hours are spent on the ferry rides.
What makes this route so unique is the oceangoing culture of the villages. There are 21 coastal villages along the byway. Their cultural heritage has been molded by the barrier islands. It is also molded by three shallow sounds:
These maritime villages seem to exist outside of the commercial world. There is very rarely a chain business in these villages. They survive on locally owned businesses. This creates a unique cultural experience in each village.
The tasks of these villagers are to:
These villages also hold significance in national history. They hold a collection of the nation’s earliest civil works. There are 8 US Coast Guard stations and 4 lighthouses. These 4 lighthouses are:
The Outer Banks Scenic byway is a perfect route for an epic coastal road trip. Along the way you could explore beaches and wildlife, and so much more. Below are a few checkpoints while on this epic road trip.
These are just some places to see. The islands and villages have so much more to offer!