Roanoke Sound from the top of Jockey's Ridge.

Roanoke Sound from the top of Jockey’s Ridge.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park is truly one of the gems of the Outer Banks, and evidently a lot of people feel the same way. The park set a record for attendance last year with 1.9 million visitors.

That makes Jockey’s Ridge the most visited park in the state system. Particularly significant this year because 2020 set a record for attendance at all state parks with 19.8 million visitors.

That gigantic sand dune that dominates the skyline across from Kitty Hawk Kites in Nags Head is the classic view of Jockey’s Ridge. And it’s no wonder—it is a truly awe-inspiring sight.

But the park is so much more than that.

There is a trail that leads from the visitor’s center to Roanoke Sound. It’s across sand so it’s a bit of workout for the legs, but the trek is worth it.

Things to do at Jockey’s Ridge State Park

To the south of where the trail ends at the sound, there is a small but verdant maritime forest that has grown in the wind shadow of Jockey’s Ridge.

There is also a small, sandy beach there, perfect for swimming with little ones because the sound is quite shallow there. A more accessible beach is on the south end of the park off Soundside Road that is also very nice.

There is more to the park as well.

Directly across from the observation deck at the end of the boardwalk, there is a vernal pond. The sand there is always damp, but after a rainy spell in the summer, it becomes a small marsh complete with frogs and an occasional blue heron.

And, of course, there is Jockey’s Ridge itself. The highest natural sand dune on the East Coast. Perfect for learning how to hang glide. A truly thrilling experience.

Or take a smaller kite anywhere on the open dunes, with the your back to the wind, launch a kite and enjoy the day.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park is just one of the many natural wonders of the Outer Banks. Be sure to set time aside to explore the natural side of this sand bar when you stay in a Brindley Beach Vacations home.