Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Updated ORV Regulations Effective February 2012
The final special regulation for the management of off-road vehicle (ORV) use at Cape Hatteras National Seashore became effective on February 15, 2012. The new ORV management plan and regulation designate ORV routes (areas where ORV use is authorized) in a manner that will protect and preserve the unique natural and cultural resources of this dynamic barrier ecosystem while permitting the use of vehicles on Seashore beaches and provide a variety of safe visitor experiences while minimizing conflicts among various users.
The requirement to obtain and display an ORV special use permit when driving on the designated ORV routes went into effect February 15. In order to provide the public with ample time to obtain a permit, there is a transition period between February 15 and March 15. Individuals in ORVs on the beach without an ORV permit (weekly or yearly) will be contacted by park rangers and advised of the permit requirement and where to obtain the permit. If the same operator is contacted a second time during the transition period, they may be issued a written warning. If contacted a third time during the transition period, they may be issued a violation notice. Failure to obtain a permit is considered a petty offense under Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Person issued a violation notice have the option of appearing in U.S. District Court or paying the $150 fine by mail.
ORV permits are available at the following locations: Coquina Beach, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor Center (Buxton), and the Ocracoke Visitor Center. The permit offices will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., year-round, seven days a week, except Christmas Day, with expanded hours on weekends and holidays during the summer season. The cost of an annual permit (valid for the calendar year) is $120. A 7-day ORV permit (valid from the date issued) costs $50.
Posts were installed on the beach to distinguish between the designated ORV routes and the vehicle free areas where recreational ORV use is prohibited, and new regulation information signs were installed at ORV ramps. Now that the routes are marked and signs are installed, NPS rangers will begin to enforce compliance with the designated routes and other ORV requirements, such as the 15 mph speed limit. The interactive Google Earth map on the park website has been updated to show current access status on the designated ORV routes and vehicle free areas. The map is available at: http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/googleearthmap.htm
For more information about the regulation and its requirements, the NPS has prepared a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) information sheet and a map showing designated ORV routes as well as pedestrian areas where ORVs are not authorized. The FAQ and map are now available on the Seashore's website located at: http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/off-road-vehicle-use.htm or by calling 252-473-2111 ext. 148.