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  1. Default Roadtrip from Pennsylvania to Outer Banks, NC for two photograhers

    My partner and I are thinking ahead and considering traveling to Outer Banks, NC this summer. What would be a great time to go? We would like full sun, and do not mind extreme heat, as long as it is below 90. We do not like crowds much and are looking to tent camp on one of the campgrounds like Ocean Waves.

    Also, we are only thinking of doing this 5 days total, stopping at VA beach on the way there, and then UVA on our way back to visit a friend. Does this seem unreasonable?

    We are both photographers and would like to know how/what is the best way to see wild horses. Any other suggestions on scenic routes/things to do would be great.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Wishin' Ain't Gettin'

    I'm afraid you've got some conflicting requirements there. "Outer Banks this summer...(with) full sun," is going to draw any number of like minded people. But you "do not like crowds much". So clearly one of those two has to give. And there's no way to guarantee the weather you'll find when you get there. While average highs on the Outer Banks are in the 80s throughout the summer, they do occasionally see temps topping out at close to 100.

    It's at least a full day's drive to the Banks from Pittsburgh, and if you want the best photo opportunities for wild horses, then you should include the Delmarva Peninsula and Assateague and Chincoteague Islands making it a two day drive at least in one direction, That leaves you only two days on the Banks.

    So, with those realities staring you in the face, you can make the best of what is a beautiful area in the time available to you and recognizing that you most certainly will not have that area to yourselves. But your current wish list simply can't be fulfilled.


  3. #3

    Default Empahsis added, and more info

    Hello ShelbyMaser,

    The Outer Banks (OBX) is one of the more popular beach vacation regions on the whole East Coast, and there is no such thing as light crowds. You can avoid SOME of the worst of it by planning your arrival and departure for days NOT including Saturday and Sunday. The two weekend days are "changeout days" for weeklong summer rental houses, so the traffic along US 158 Bypass from South Nags Head all the way to NC 12 going up to Duck and Corolla is often gridlocked, and the congestion persists up US 158 and NC and VA 168 all the way back to Tidewater (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, etc), and often then up I-64 to Williamsburg and Richmond.

    Crowds also cannot be avoided mid-week due in part to the relative paucity of developable land in the non-National Seashore (NS) area south of Oregon Inlet. The campground you noted is in the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo trio of villages with many miles of undeveloped NS to the north and south. As a result, campers and home-renters alike are all in the same area.

    To the best of my knowledge, the closest wild horse viewing is far to the north of your campground, that being the 12 mile stretch of beach between Corolla and the VA state line. There is not a conventional paved road traversing this section--the beach is actually the road, complete with speed limit signs and radar-wielding Currituck County deputies in 4WD trucks. Most any vehicle with 4WD or AWD can run the beach, and thousands do daily. For visitors not so equipped, horse-viewing tours run out of Corolla, and these vary between open jeeps, larger trucks with rows of seats in the bed, and guided ATV tours (perhaps the ATV tours have been stopped--check and see). Your problem in accessing Corolla from Waves is distance and congestion. It can easily take over an hour to get to Southern Shores, where NC 12 keeps north to Duck and Corolla where US 158 turns west, crosses the Wright bridge, and heads inland. From that junction, it can easily take 1.5 hours just to run the 20 or so miles to the north side of Corolla where the beach road starts, and that's on a weekday. Literally hordes of visitors occupy weeklong rentals in Southern Shores, Duck, Corolla, and ever square foot of sand in between. NC 12 is 2-lane, narrow, has cycle and pedestrian footpaths alongside, and a multitude of crosswalks. Traversing the whole segment without getting out of 1st gear is common.

    Don't think you can come to NC in the summer and avoid heat. While you might luck out, you probably won't. It's probably going to be hot, particularly in July and August.

    I believe other horse viewing opportunities exist on Ocracoke Island, some 40 miles south of Waves plus a 45-minute free ferry ride from Hatteras Village. This ferry gets very heavy use and it's common to wait an hour or two for your turn to board and cross--ditto on the return trip.

    AZBuck correctly noted the delightful presence of Chincoteague/Assateague up on the Delmarva. The NS unit at Assateague is very nice and is a photographer's dream, with long wooden boardwalk trails through the salt marsh and maritime forests, and of course the horses. Alas, you will want to avoid visiting here on weekends, too, and whatever you do, make sure to determine when the annual Pony Roundup weekend (think "Misty of Chincoteague" and 40,000 screaming children and their families) if avoiding crowds is high on your list.

    So, not to discourage you (honest), but you asked for advice, and now you've got the real story. The OBX is home to large parts of the population of DC/Baltimore, Philly, NJ, and NY from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and that's just the way the cookie crumbles.


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