National Park Service Outer Banks Sites Announce Phased Reopening
The National Park Service announced today details of its first phase of reopening Outer Banks sites, including Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site on Roanoke Island, and Cape Hatteras National Seashore at Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Island.
For the purpose of staying healthy while following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and Dare and Hyde County public health authorities, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, and Wright Brothers National Memorial are increasing recreational opportunities on May 22.
Park lands remain accessible, including boat ramps and the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center. The parks are working with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.
“We are pleased to be part of the community’s thoughtful efforts to welcome visitors back to the Outer Banks and incrementally provide services and experiences,” stated National Parks of Eastern North Carolina Superintendent, David Hallac.
Beginning May 22, the following services will be available:
- Restrooms at the Fort Raleigh Visitor Center, Wright Brothers pavilion, Cape Hatteras beach and sound-side parking areas (visitor centers will not be open).
- Camping, with limited capacity will be available at Cape Hatteras campgrounds; however, campsite reservations and payments will only be available online. Staff will not be available to take payment at the campground and site availability will be limited – campers must use www.recreation.gov for making campground reservations and payments.
- Trash services in some locations – everyone is encouraged to “pack it in, pack it out” as trash service will remain limited.
- Lifeguard services at Coquina Beach, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Beach, Frisco Beach, and Ocracoke Beach.
With public health in mind, the following facilities and activities remain closed:
- Fort Raleigh, Wright Brothers and Cape Hatteras visitor centers and bookstores.
- The Lost Colony at Fort Raleigh
- The Avon Pier
- Bodie Island lighthouse climbing
- Cape Hatteras lighthouse climbing
- In-person off-road vehicle permit sales offices; permits are available 24/7 at www.recreation.gov. Permits should be printed and placed in vehicle. Ramp status updates can be found at http://go.nps.gov/beachaccess.
- In-person interpretive programs
- Ocracoke Island boat slips
As North Carolina eases some COVID-19 restrictions, the NC Department of Health and Human Services and local public health officials are asking people that leave home to remember the Three W’s – Wear. Wait. Wash.
- Wear a cloth face covering if you will be with other people.
- Wait 6 feet apart. Avoid close contact.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.
While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow the Center for Disease Control, Dare and Hyde County, and state guidelines and orders including:
The NPS press release further states: “The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. Our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored.
“We continue to work closely with the National Park Service’s Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers. While many areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services are limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding, and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.
“The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.”