Cape Hatteras Driving Permits Effective Today – $150?!

Starting today February 15, 2012, a permit will be required for driving on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in the Outer Banks. Permits are $50 for a weeklong pass, and $150 for an annual pass. As of now permits are only available at 3 locations; Coquina Beach in Nags Head, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor Center in Buxton, and the Ocracoke Visitor Center, from 8am – 4:30pm. This is sure to cause problems when tourism kicks into high gear and the offices are flooded with visitors seeking off-road beach access.

Be warned, the park service will begin ticketing on March 15 those without the proper permits. So get out your wallets and a bucket of popcorn …oh yeah, you’ll have to watch a seven-minute long “educational video” in order to get your permit as well.

OBX restricted area piping plover nesting siteOf the 67-mile-long beach only 9 miles of the Hatteras National Seashore are open all year, and 13 more miles are open seasonally. You can view the new access map here.

Most of the issues with beach access stem from nesting areas for the piping plover and three species of sea turtles. The plovers have caused quite an uproar in the OBX area, just check the back windows and bumpers of the locals, and you’ll understand how they feel about the little birdies.

I’m sure local businesses are cringing at the thought of these new regulations because of the impact it’s sure to have on tourism. For those like myself who are within driving distance to OBX, and who go for the surf fishing, having to pay another $50 or $150 for ORV access means I’ll probably go elswere to catch my fish.