Jockey’s Ridge State Park Most Visited in NC

Jockey's Ridge in the summertime.
Jockey’s Ridge in the summertime.
Over 1.5 Million Visitors Last Year

We’ve always known that Jockey’s Ridge State Park is popular and the latest news from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources confirms that.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park was the most visited North Carolina Park in 2017. According to NCDNCR 1,560,254 visitors came to the park last year, an increase of 19% over 2016.

Known to most visitors as the home of the Kitty Hawk Kites hang gliding school, the park is actually a small but remarkably diverse ecosystem. There is a dense maritime forest that has formed on the banks of the Croatan Sound; at the base of the eastern dunes a unique form of pond—a vernal pond appears after heavy rains. The ponds, which are wholly dependent on rainwater and are isolated from any form of drainage, support a number of species that have evolved to thrive in that environment.

Jockey’s Ridge—the huge sand dune that towers over the surrounding terrain of the park, is a living dune, meaning it is migrating—to the south, in this case—and varies significantly in height depending on wind and weather conditions. Typically the height of the dune ranges from 75’-100’.

It is an ideal location to learn how to hang glide. Sand is a much more forgiving median for landings that packed earth or rock and Outer Banks winds tend to be reliable.

Founded in 1974, the Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding School is the oldest in the nation, and may be the oldest in the world.

Visitation at Jockey’s Ridge has always been among the top five of the North Carolina state parks. The second most visited park was Fort Macon State Park in Atlantic Beach with 1,543,772 visitors.

Two parks in the Raleigh/Durham area, William B. Umstead State ParkJordan Lake State Recreation Area south of the Triangle also had very strong visitation.

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