Each ORV must secure either a 10-day $50 permit or a $120 annual permit to drive on the NPS beach routes. Permits (which include a proof of permit windshield tag) may be bought online or in person. A proof of permit tag must be displayed in the driver’s side windshield whenever the vehicle is on the beach.
Permits may be bought online anytime at www.recreation.gov by searching for Cape Hatteras Off-Road Vehicle Permits from the home page and printing directly from the website. When buying an annual permit online, the proof of permit tag is good for only 30 days, and must be replaced on your windshield with the decal you’ll get in the mail within 7-10 business days. Annual permits are valid for a full year from the date of purchase.
Visitors may also buy a permit in person seven days a week, 9am-5pm, at Bodie Island Lighthouse Visitor Center, Nags Head; Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor Center, Buxton; and Ocracoke Island Visitor Center, Ocracoke.
Current open and closed ORV routes can be found on the park’s Facebook page. On-site signs provide accurate info on open and closed areas, and closed areas are also designated by Carsonite posts. For more information, call 252-473-2111 or visit the park website at www.nps.gov/caha.
4WD vehicles are recommended for beach driving, and tire pressure should be lowered to 20psi. Vehicles that get stuck must call a commercial towing service; NPS rangers are prohibited from pulling or towing vehicles.