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Sand dunes are some of the most underrated natural features for exploration and fun activities. Nag Heads, North Carolina, definitely takes it when it comes to flexing one of the most massive dune parks on the east coast. Locals and tourists won't get bored exploring this great natural feature regardless of the time of the year.

Walking in the sand, hiking, sand sledding, and hang gliding are just a few fun activities visitors can explore at Nag Head. But what makes Nag Heads stand out?


What's Special About Nags Head?

One of the main highlights of Nags Head town is Jockey's Ridge State Park. It covers about 427 acres and has the tallest dune on the East Coast. Its record explains why it's the most visited park in the NC park system.

Nags Head is located in Dare County and has become one of the busiest vacation spots in the state. Jockey's Ridge State Park has several natural attractions within the dunes, including an assortment of flora and fauna, salt marshes, a forest, and one of the quietest beaches in North Carolina. Moreover, the Bodie Island Lighthouse allows tourists to view the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Related: 10 Adorable North Carolina Mountain Towns You Should Visit

Despite being made of sand, dunes are largely considered to be living if they change their shape and profile too frequently. The dunes at Jockey's Ridge perfectly follow this behavior according to different seasons.

Most of the year, the typical wind direction at the park comes from the northeast to the southwest. However, it switches direction and blows from the southwest to the northeast during the warmer months. This seasonal change in the wind direction causes the sand to blow back and forth, creating a sharp ridge.

While typical dunes are usually dry, Jockey's Ridge has lots of moisture due to its proximity to the ocean. Digging a few inches on the ridge top or valley area reveals moisture content. This water contributes to the structural integrity of the dune. It acts as a sponge and ensures that the wind only shifts the top layer of the sand.

Related: 8 Beachside Hiking Trails In North Carolina With A View

Must-Try Activities At Nags Head

Nags Head has become a major tourist attraction over the past few years. Here are popular activities to try:

Soar Above The Sand Dunes

For many young people, hand gliding over Jockey's Ridge is probably one of the best reasons to visit this park. It's a perfect opportunity to draw inspiration from the Wright Brothers, who discovered the power of airplane flight on the dunes of the Outer Banks on these grounds.

The winds across the Jockey's Ridge are perfect since gliders will enjoy between 10 and 15 mph, enough to soar high enough in the sky. For safety purposes, one needs a USHPA Hang 1 or a similarly approved card to take the fun to this level.

It's a good idea to book a nearby rental in advance since Jockey's Ridge Park doesn't operate at night. Nags Head has amazing vacation homes perfect for relaxation after a long day gliding over the park, swimming in the ocean, or hiking along various trails.

Hike In the Natural Trails

The Ridge of the dune at Jockey's Ridge is a must-try climbing experience. Remember that reaching its top offers an outstanding view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Outer Banks. Those who'd rather stroll on the boardwalk will have much fun taking in the refreshing salty air. The following trails are worth trying:

  • The Boardwalk
  • Soundside Nature Trail
  • Tracks in the Sand Trail

Enjoy A Quality Picnic

This park has some amazing spots for setting up family and couple picnics. It boasts eight shelters for such activities near parking areas where friends and family get to share meals. Every shelter has two tables and a grill, perfect for great outdoor dining.

Appreciate The Diversity

As hinted earlier, biodiversity is one of the key selling points of this great sand dune. Guests will enjoy the sight and singing of various animals and birds. The dune attracts songbirds, foxes, and cottontail rabbits.

The diverse ecology in the region is ideal for unique plant life. It allows kids to play between the live oaks, needlegrass rush, wax myrtles, or brackish cattails.

Where To Stay Near Jockey's Ridge

Here are places to consider:

Landon Sea

This is a six-bedroom private rental with 5.5 baths, perfect for a big family or group of vacationers. It has four King Masters, one Queen, and two bunk bed sets. The house has modern furniture and furnishing in every room, making it ideal for an extended stay. Guests will enjoy breathtaking ocean views from this spot.

Silver Creek

This vacation house is a six-bedroom home with a private pool and a hot tub. It has 4.5 baths and features three King Masters, one Queen, and a Pyramid bunk set. Guests will enjoy modern services and installations, including a flat-screen TV, comfortable seats, and oceanside decks.

The Jockey's Ridge dune is one of the East Coast's largest and most impressive natural features. Besides the opportunities for fun activities, this extensive sand structure imprints tourists' minds due to its serenity and views. Plus, the trip is pocket-friendly.