- The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them. Ernest Hemingway
Climb a Lighthouse
There are three historic lighthouses located in the park. Both the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Bodie Island Lighthouse are open seasonally—third Friday in April through Columbus Day—for self-guided climbs. The third lighthouse, the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse, is not open for climbing.
Safety and Rules Please do your part to have a safe, enjoyable experience and follow these safety rules while visiting either lighthouse.
Children must be at least 42" tall and capable of climbing all steps on their own. Children 11 years of age or younger must be accompanied by an adult who is 16 years of age or older. No person may be lifted or carried. Running, jumping, or stomping on stairs and landings is prohibited. Do not eat, drink, smoke or chew tobacco. No pets, other than service animals. Do not arrive in heels over 1 ½ inches high or with bare feet. Leave umbrellas in your car. Backpacks, tripods, coolers, beach bags, surfboards, fishing poles, and the like also need to be left in your car. Throwing of any object off the lighthouse is unsafe and may get you in big trouble! Either lighthouse may close at any time if weather conditions are unsafe. What to Expect Both climbs are strenuous!
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has 257 steps from the ground to the balcony level, equal to climbing a 12-story building. The narrow stairs have a handrail only on one side, two-way traffic, and a landing every 31 steps.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse has just over 200 steps from the ground to the top, equal to climbing a 10-story building. The narrow stairs have a handrail only on one side, two-way traffic, and 9 landings.
There is no air conditioning and no elevator in either lighthouse. It may be noisy, humid, hot and dim inside the lighthouses. Visitors with heart, respiratory or other medical conditions, or who have trouble climbing stairs, should use their own discretion as to whether to climb the lighthouses.