Explore Jockey’s Ridge State Park on your next Outer Banks Vacation

Explore Jockey’s Ridge State Park on your next Outer Banks Vacation

Spending time at Jockey’s Ridge State Park when on vacation in the Outer Banks is always a fun and different activity for families to enjoy.  Staying in one of our Outer Banks vacation rentals near Nags Head will allow you and your family to stay close to the park and not miss any of the beauty and excitement. Let’s look below at how you and your family can explore and enjoy Jockey’s Ridge State Park when visiting OBX.

Nature Trails & Boardwalk

One of the benefits of going to Jockey’s Ridge State Park is the nature trails and the boardwalk available. Getting out and seeing the wildlife is what many love to do while on vacation. Don’t forget your camera because there may be a few animals that you may have never seen before. Animals commonly seen are raccoons, rabbits, deer, red fox, and also the gray fox. Be on the lookout, however, for snakes as you will be in their natural habitats, if you happen to see one just stay still, and they will go on about their business. The boardwalk is a favorite among visitors and locals as it is around 360 feet long. Located near the parking lot is where you can step onto the boardwalk and start exploring the park and seeing wildlife while never having to go onto the sand. How amazing is that?!

Outdoor Recreation

Did you know that you can take flight at Jockey’s Ridge State Park? Hang gliding is available to visitors that retain both a US National Park Permit as well as a United States Hang Gliding Association (USHGA) rating. If your feet don’t want to leave the sand than you might enjoy swimming, wading, or paddling on the soundside of the dune. Looking to enjoy some calmer waters, then the Roanoke Sound is the place to be. This is perfect area for families to sunbath, stretch out and relax. Think of all the new memories you can make at Jockey’s Ridge State Park while you are on vacation in the Outer Banks.

Fun in the Sand

One of the best things to do at the park is spending time in the sand. Enjoying the tallest living sand dune on the Atlantic Coast offers many sandy activities. If you ever wanted to try out sandboarding this is the place to do it. You don’t have to have a board either. Overtime we have seen kids and adults use anything from plastic lids from containers to even a cardboard box.  If you want to try and glide on the sand a little then try sandboarding across the dune while flying a kite. Think of the fun that you and the kids will have by watching each other try and fly their kite and surf in the sand at the same time.

While there are many other things that you and your family can do while you are on vacation to the Outer Banks, we wanted to share this fantastic park with you. If you haven’t booked your next holiday to stay in one of our Outer Banks vacation rentals near Nags Head, now is the time. We can’t wait to see your vacation pictures and hear all about your visit to Jockey’s Ridge State Park!

Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates is one of the most trusted vacation rental managers in the local area by growing into a market leader in the Vacation Rental and Sales Industry. Joe Lamb Jr. and his family have played a vital and intricate role in the Outer Banks Community for decades.

Over the past 50+ years, Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates have worked diligently to help promote the Outer Banks for the amazing beach and family vacation destination that it is, helping to increase tourism in the area and grow our beautiful community.


Repurposing Christmas Trees on the Outer Banks

One option for a new home for used Christmas trees.
One option for a new home for used Christmas trees.

It’s such a simple idea it’s amazing that it works. After the holidays are done and all the trimmings come off the Christmas tree, create a new purpose for it. Place it at the base of a sand dune and let nature take its course.

Here on the Outer Banks it’s become sort of an annual rite of passage. 

The idea came from a project at Jockey’s Ridge State Park where some middle school students and Boy Scouts were laying out Christmas trees to capture sand and rebuild the dune.

it was just a natural progression for someone to figure, “Hey, if it works at Jockey’s Ridge, why wouldn’t it work on the beach?”

And the answer is, it does, and it does very well.

The first to start gathering trees was Betsy Seawell, owner of the Islander Motel in Nags Head. That was in 2009 right after Nor’Ida carved away the dune in front of her motel.

Pretty soon she was, as she describes herself, the Crazy Christmas Tree Lady, going up and down the Outer Banks collecting trees wherever she could find them.

About 2013 Donny King, owner of Ocean Boulevard in Kitty Hawk had some ocean got in the game, although at the time he did not know about Betsy’s efforts. After Sandy passed and he saw that although the dunes were damaged they still kept the sea out of his restaurant, he figured a little help for the dunes was in order.

Donny knows a lot of people and he’s pretty savvy about media, so his efforts really took off.

H’s expanded his efforts now, doing a Better Beaches OBX that includes sand fencing, plants and of course, Christmas trees.

2020 may be the biggest year yet for Christmas trees. Trees can still be dropped off at Betsy’s motel, but the big shipment will be the  25 plus trucks loaded with trees that Donny has arranged to bring from Virginia Beach.

Spend some time in a Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates and see for yourself how wonderful our Outer Banks home is. 

Trashion Show & More Fill Outer Banks Weekend

Postponed but still happening...the First Annual Outer Banks Trashion Show.
Postponed but still happening…the First Annual Outer Banks Trashion Show.

Weather stopped the first go around of the First Annual Trashion Show, but the rescheduled gala for Friday is looking nothing short of spectacular.

The place to be tomorrow, Friday, is at the Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills at 5:00 p.m.

That’s when it all happens. The models walk the runway in the latest fashions created from the flotsam, jetsam and junk found on the beach.

It should be a lot of fun and it’s all going to a good cause—the North Carolina Coastal Federation.

The Coastal Federation is a remarkable organization that has a history of working successfully with multiple groups to effect real environmental benefits.

They are a strong advocate for commercial fishing, working across party lines and constituents to insure healthy breeding areas for seafood. The Coastal Federation has also been instrumental in helping a nascent oyster industry take root in the state.

The Trashiobn Show is not the only big thing happening this weekend, but it makes for a great lead in to some of the other events.

The big music event is the Mustang Spring Jam in Corolla. It begins on Saturday evening, then its a full day of great music on Sunday.

This one is also a benefit—for two organizations this time. Proceeds go to the Corolla Wild Horse fund, the nonprofit organization that manages the Corolla Wild Mustangs. The Mustang Music Outreach Program also receives funding from Mustang Jam.

The Mustang Music Program works with students to hone musical performance skills. 

Finally for something really different to do this weekend, there is also the Kitty Hawk Kites 47th Annual Hang Gliding Spectacular at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. The Spectacular is the oldest continually happening hang gliding completion in the world.

That’s just an inkling of all there is to do on the Outer Banks. Make your plans to stay with us at Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park-An Outer Banks Hidden Gem

The view from the  top of a dune on the north end of our hidden gem--Jockey's Ridge State Park.
The view from the top of a dune on the north end of our hidden gem–Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

Discover the Unexpected at Jockey’s Ridge State Park

There are, throughout the Outer Banks unexpected finds–a hidden gem, if you will. Places that may be a bit more difficult to get to, but getting there is worth every bit of the effort.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head is one of those places.

There may be a hue and cry going up right now, saying, “Jockey’s Ridge? A hidden gem?”

That’s reasonable—Jockey’s Ridge itself is the highest natural sand dune on the East Coast. It’s the home of the oldest and one of the largest hang gliding schools in the United States. And it may be the finest place anywhere to fly a kite.

So it’s not like no one knows about it.

Yet away from the hang gliding and the kites, there is a whole other world waiting to be explored.

Some of the remarkable characteristics of Jockey’s Ridge are visible at the end of the boardwalk from the Visitor’s Center.

There is, depending on how much rain has fallen and how recently, either a large swath of damp sand with a heavy growth of grasses or a pond that extends almost to the base of Jockey’s Ridge. The pond is called a vernal pond and it is created when so much rain water seeps through the sand that pressure on the underlying aquifer forces water to the surface.

There is a nature trail that leads to Roanoke Sound. By all means take the trail. Also take water. It gets hot.

The soundside of the Park includes a small dense maritime forest that has taken taken root in the protection of the dunes. The contrast of the verdant, damp feel of the forest with the stark, seemingly sterile sand of Jockey’s Ridge is startling.

Or take the path less traveled and head north, to the right after exiting the boardwalk.

The northern edge of the vernal pond is considered a maritime thicket, but for the past three years there has been higher than normal rainfall in the summer and is taking on more of a forest feel with larger trees with heavier foliage.

The north end includes a series of steep dunes with a different feel from the rest of the park. A bit of an effort to climb, but worth work to explore a hidden gem.

From Corolla to Nags Head, Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates & Associates has a home perfect for your vacation needs.

Fulgurite-Lightning Captured in the Sand

Fulgurite at Jockey's Ridge State Park, Nags Head.
Fulgurite at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Nags Head.

Fulgurite a Delicate, Intricate Shape of Lightning

The Outer Banks week is looking like it’s going to be a bit stormy for a couple of days. The forecast doesn’t look too bad toward the end of the week though.

With the storms, if there is lightening, comes the possibility of a remarkable phenomenon—fulgurite.

Created by lightning when it strikes the sand, fulgurite may be more common than we realize, but finding it seems like a rare event.

There are probably a couple of reasons why it is seen so rarely. Knowing what to look for is a big part of that. Shaded slightly darker than the surrounding sand, it seems to blend in almost as though it was hiding.

But it is not just that it is difficult to see or identify—that fused piece of sand is often very fragile.

How it is formed is what makes it so intricate—the interior often looks like a delicate, small glass cave— and so delicate.

For one incredibly brief moment when lighting strikes the sand the air can actually be hotter than the sun. Silica, the ingredient that gives the Outer Banks sand its soft, fine feel, immediately melts and fuses into a rock-like substance. As it cools beneath the surface the silica continues to melt and reform.

The outside of the fulgurite is hardened, but extreme heat is so great that it vaporizes the sand inside, hollowing out the interior of the fulgurite. The melted sand on the outside tends to be thin and very fragile.

Interestingly there are two places on the Outer Banks where fulgurite tends to occur and the it is slightly different at the two locations.

The sand on Jockey’s Ridge is finer and does not have the shell material found on the beach. The fulgurite formed at the park tends to look almost like the tip of a lightning bolt and has a cleaner, smoother surface.

Fulgurite formed on the beach will often have shells encased in the exterior and if the lightning strikes wet or damp sand, the shape will be altered dramatically.

There are two places on the Outer Banks that have fulgurite collections. The collection that Jockey’s Ridge State Park has is small, but some excellent examples

The Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum on the Beach Road in Nags Head has a remarkable collection of beach fulgurite.

Our Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates. beachfront homes are perfect for beach combing.

Rogallo Kite Festival Comes to Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Kites paint the sky at the Rogallo Kite Festival.
Kites paint the sky at the Rogallo Kite Festival.

 

 

 

36th Annual Rogallo Kite Festival Has Something for Everyone

There is probably no better way to celebrate Francis Rogallo than with the Kitty Hawk Kites Rogallo Kite Festival. Held this coming weekend, June 15-17, at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, the 36th annual edition of the festival is a must stop and see part of the Outer Banks experience.

Francis Rogallo was a NASA scientist who, in his spare time, invented a steerable flexible wing—the basis for hang gliders. paragliders, modern parachutes…and stunt kites.

Mr. Rogallo was a longtime resident of Southern Shores and an ardent supporter of all things that fly. He passed away in 2009, but his legacy lives on in the many designs of stunt kites and the sport of hang gliding on the Outer Banks.

The Rogallo Kite Festival has something for everyone. When Kitty Hawk Kites puts on a festival, they pull out their biggest, most spectacular kites and seeing 40’ and 50’ dragons, dogs and other animals floating in the wind above Jockey’s Ridge is an amazing sight.

The festival is all about kites and kite flying. There are stunt kite demos all day with instruction from Kitty Hawk Kites employees and representatives of some of the kite companies.

One of the most spectacular things to do—or maybe it falls under the heading of fun—is to fly a power kite.  The power kites that make their appearance at a show like the Rogallo Festival are usually frameless, using the wind to fill baffles and give the kite lift.

With no frame, they can’t be broken. And that’s good, because the first experience with the wind catching an 8’ power kite is…interesting.

For a challenge, there will probably be some quad line kites to try as well. More difficult to steer than a standard dual line stunt kite, when mastered the range of maneuvers a quad line kite can accomplish is astonishing.

The weather is looking good for the weekend, so check it out.

The Rogallo Kite Festival is just one of many activities scheduled for the summer on the Outer Banks. Need a place to stay while checking out all there is to do on the Outer Banks? Check out our listings at Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates.

 

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.

OBX Marathon Weekend Perfect for the Family

Tutu runners taking the Outer Banks Marathon challenge.
Tutu runners taking the Outer Banks Marathon challenge.

Outer Banks Marathon November 12

October has been filled with activities for some time, but with the Outer Bank Marathon Weekend anchoring activities for the month, November is close behind.

The Outer Banks Marathon is always the second Sunday of the month—that is this coming weekend, and there will be a few thousand runners on hand for the event…and events.

What makes the Outer Banks Marathon so perfect is that it is designed for the whole family. Not the Marathon, of course. That’s 26.2 miles and probably isn’t a good choice for a preteen.

Fun for the Whole Family

Saturday, though, is Super Saturday, with courses and runs designed with the family in mind. There is an 8K, 5K, a fun run and even a diaper dash.

The 5K and 8K share a course, and the 5K especially is a fairly easy run with no hills. The 8K does venture for a little bit into Nags Head Woods and that will make it a little more challenging and certainly a prettier run.

The Fun Run, at First Flight High School, is is really all about kids. There will be a bounce house, a kid sized obstacle course, piirate toss, face painting and Kitty Hawk Kites rock climbing wall will be on hand.

Sunday, though is when it gets real with a half marathon and marathon.

The 2017 version is the 12th Annual Marathon, and although there have been some adjustments, some things have remained constant.

A Beautiful Course

The course, beginning under the leafy canopy of Kitty Hawk Woods in Kitty Hawk is beautiful. The course passes the Wright Brothers Monument, goes through the heart of Nags Head Woods on a dirt road, parallels Jockey’s Ridge before crossing the Washington Baum Bridge into Manteo.

Runners who have not been on this course before, be aware that the Washington Baum Bridge, spanning Roanoke Sound can be a deal breaker.

The weekend weather is looking great. Saturday and Sunday are forecast to be overcast with moderate temperatures, but rain should hold off. Perfect conditions for runners.

The weekend is a production of Outer Banks Sporting Events. Proceeds from the weekend benefit the Dare Education Foundation and Outer Banks Relief Foundation.

Visitors Still Fill Outer Banks Roads

Vernal Pond at Jockey's Ridge. Waters are remaining above ground much longer than has been seen in the past.
Vernal Pond at Jockey’s Ridge. Waters are remaining above ground much longer than has been seen in the past.

Visitors Extend Outer Banks Stay

It’s the week after Labor Day and the roads are still filled with our visitors. That’s great. Here at Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates we love our guests and we’re thrilled so many have decided to stay another week.

The big news, of course, up and down the East Coast is Hurricane Irma, and it does look as though the Outer Banks will be spared. There is, of course relief, but it’s hard not to be concerned—even frightened—for what so many have gone through and will go through.

It has been a great summer with lots of fantastic beach days. Somehow in all of that, though, a lot of rain fell. At last check, the Outer Banks was about 75% over average for the summer.

That much rain does have and effect, and one of the most dramatic examples of that is at Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head.

Across from the observation deck there is always a small pond at the base of the dune.

Called a vernal pond, it is an interesting phenomenon. Created by groundwater being forced to the surface, it is typically fairly small, although during periods of heavy rain it does swell.

And swell it has this year, to a size that is only seen after a tropical system dumps 5” or 6” on Jockey’s Ridge. The difference with what we are seeing now, is the pond has not shrunk.

The effect of vegetation is dramatic. Grasses are sprouting up where there has been none for years. Botanists we have spoken to are divided on whether that is long dormant seeds springing to life or windblown seeds.

The past few years have been a little bit over average for rainfall—althoough nothing like this year, and woody plants are becoming more apparent, especially along the banks of the more established parts of the pond.

There are other very different characteristics of the pond, now that it’s some 12 or 15 times larger that it has been. It’s so unique, so much an amazing example of nature at work, that a trip to see it is worthwhile.

Eclipse Captures Outer Banks Imagination

We didn’t have a total eclipse of the sun on the Outer Banks. Somewhere around 80%, so it wasn’t immediately noticeable on the ground.

The light though that does filter through at that point has an odd quality to it. A little bit dull, a little bit yellow, it’s still sunlight, but different.

The real show was in the sky and hopefully no one actually tried to look at the sun. Local businesses sold out of eclipse glasses by Saturday at the latest, but even without those specially designed glasses there were ways to view the eclipse.

A lot of people just went back to an old low tech method…a pinhole in a box and watch the shadow of the moon swallow the sun.

Some of us tried to get some pictures. It really took some specialized equipment to get something that that truly represented what was happening in the sky. The image with on this page was taken with a camera with every lens in the house—UV, ultraviolet and polarized. The sun still completely overwhelmed the camera, which is probably a good cautionary note about looking directly into the sun.

Jockey’s Ridge probably gets the award for the most popular viewing site. No trees and no buildings and the highest point around certainly has come advantages.

We haven’t heard much from farther south yet. Since the path of 100% coverage passed directly over Charleston, SC, the farther south on the Outer Banks the more profound the effects. There’s a very good possibility that Ocracoke is far enough south that a ten minute dusk fell over the Island about 2:50 p.m.

The weather was wonderful for the eclipse. Warm and sunny, but there was a nice breeze blowing all day. Even standing not Jockey’s Ridge, with no shade, was tolerable.