Beautifully lighting the area known as the graveyard of the Atlantic, Cape Hatteras is the tallest lighthouse in America.
Located on Hatteras Island, lighting the way for mariners traveling the treacherous Diamond Shoals knows as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, is the mighty Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Standing nearly 200ft tall Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest Lighthouse in America. It is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is located on Hatteras Island along the Outer Banks Scenic Byway at 46379 Lighthouse Road in Buxton North Carolina. It is about 1 hour from Nags Head to the North, or 1 hour 45 minutes from Ocracoke to the South via the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry. There is plenty of signage directing you to the very spacious parking lot.
The grounds of the lighthouse are remarkable. They are beautifully maintained with restroom facilities, benches, green spaces, and informative signs. In addition to the lighthouse there is an outdoor pavilion, informative museum, and a large visitor center and gift shop.
The obvious main attraction of the park is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse which dominates the skyline and is beautifully visible from just about any point of the park. Constructed in 1870, it was relocated to its present location in 1999 to avoid the Atlantic ocean encroaching and eventually overtaking its original location. It now stands a safe 1500ft from the ocean. Details and photos of the move can be found in the onsite museum.
You can climb the 257 steps to the top of the lighthouse via self guided tours that are available. Tickets must be purchased at the ticket booth and the climbs are organized into groups of 30 people to avoid too much congestion on the stairs. As of mid 2016 when this episode was filmed, the tickets are $8 per adult, $4 per senior over 62 and children under 11. Advanced ticket sales are not possible so make sure you arrive early enough to get a spot for your climb which run every 10 minutes from 9am to 4:30pm daily.
As you gather at the base of the lighthouse for a quick safety briefing by the ranger, you are released to climb the lighthouse at your own pace. There are a lot of steps but there are several landings that break up the climb and can be used to catch your breath if necessary. Eventually you reach the top and your efforts are rewarded with exceptional panoramic views of the park, Hatteras Island, Pamlico Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean.
When you done enjoying the view from atop the lighthouse, walk safely down the stairs back to the base. From here you can either visit the gift shop, check out the museum, or just find your own space on the spacious field surrounding the lighthouse and enjoy the view.