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  1. #1

    Default Outer Banks in May

    Hi, I'm going to be in Richmond, VA the first weekend in May, and plan on leaving Richmond on Monday morning and heading to Kill Devil Hills/Nags Head on Monday morning. There, I hope to camp (suggestions?), pick up some shells on the beach, visit the Roanoke Festival Park and Ft. Raleigh, and the Wright Brothers site. I have a number of days free, before heading over to Pearisburg, VA. Would I need reservations to stay at a campground on Ocracoke Island during the week, at that time of year? There's a ferry from Ocracoke to somewhere on the mainland, if I remember correctly, would that be a worthwhile activity, and would anyone have any recommendations of a route or things to see on the way back toward Pearisburg, VA? I will have a small kayak, and really like nature things (Though I don't like snakes, so the snake tour of some swamp wouldn't be a good suggestion. Well, it might be a good suggestion, but I'm not taking it. :-) ). I also like history (and have already done Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown). While I'm asking--any restuarants you can recommend, either in the Kill Devil Hills area, or along a route you suggest? Thanks for your thoughts and ideas.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Shoulder Seasons

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    This is a great RoadTrip route and a great time of year to do it. May is what is known as 'shoulder season', between the 'off season' of winter and the 'high season' of summer. As such it can offer the best of both worlds, weather pleasant enough to camp out in but well before the bulk of the tourists arrive. You should not have any problems finding camping in Cape Hatteras National Seashore at that time of year. For history, look into some of Blackbeard's haunts on the island, and the recently moved Cape Hatteras Light. As far as the ferry off island from Ocracoke, there are actually two, one to Swan Quarter and one to Cedar Island. Each is about a 2½ hour ride, but very inexpensive for all that. I think I'd recommend going to Cedar Island and continuing to Beaufort where they have recently raised what is presumably Blackbeard's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge.

    The drive inland from the coast through North Carolina is mostly urban, but starting out you'll be near Croatan National Forest, northeast of Winston-Salem you'll be passing by Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, both of which should offer kayaking opportunities, and not too far off your route is Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-03-2012 at 06:19 PM.

  3. #3

    Default A few ideas

    Hello Pringles,

    There are many places to paddle the sound side of Ocracoke Island, and for that matter, the sound side of Hatteras Island. I wouldn't think reservations would be required for the Ocracoke to Swan Quarter ferry, but a free phone call to the NC Ferry system will confirm or correct that notion.

    The ferry landing at Swan Quarter is close to Lake Mattamuskeet, a huge, shallow freshwater lake which is within a National Wildlife Refuge. Not much farther north is Pettigrew State Park on Lake Phelps and the Scupperong River. West on US 64 is the Roanoke River Paddle Trail, a series of platforms for tenting along a marked trail through the lower Roanoke River floodplain. And let's be honest here--the chances of NOT seeing a snake in the waters of the Eastern NC Coastal Plain in May are just about zero.

    As you enter the Blue Ridge north of Winston-Salem, just over the VA line, you'll cross the New River on I-77. For many miles both upstream and downstream, flatwater to Class II paddling is available on the New. The New River is also paralleled by the New River Trail State Park, a rail-trail of some 57 miles in length, accessed from Fries or Galax, VA and ending near Pulaski. It's a cruiser/mtn bike Nirvana.


  4. #4


    It sounds like I'll be looking into the Swan Quarter ferry. Thanks for the information about it. The pirate stuff sounds really interesting.

    I made the comment about snakes because I was afraid of exactly what you said, Foy. If I out the boat in on the inside side of the barrier island, am I likely to be seeing snakes? And if I paddle there, do I need to register my boat? It's under 9 feet long. Loads of fun, though.

    Croatian National Forest sounds interesting. I've done the Appalachian Trail section of Mt. Rogers, and it is splendid. The Grayson Highlands are awesome.

    Foy, that area with the snakes, if one is driving in that area, might one see an alligator? At that time of year, from shore?

    I've rafted the New before. I'm hoping to cross the New as I hike on the Appalachian Trail, after my shore visit. I'll keep the paddling in mind.

    Any restaurants to recommend?

    Thanks for the great ideas!


  5. #5

    Default Been a while since I paddled anywhere


    The sound-side paddling is in brackish to pure oceanic salt water (closer to inlets = more oceanic water). I can't recall ever seeing a snake on the Outer Banks nor in the marshes on the sound side. I suppose there could be some but my October-November surf-fishing trips just never found them.

    If you're interested in visiting the Croatan NF, you probably want the Ocracoke-Cedar Island Ferry which will take you through Beaufort and Morehead City to Havelock in the heart of the NF.

    Most anywhere in the Coastal Plain (essentially the entire state east of I-95) is snake country, with some alligators thrown in for good measure. Gators are relatively more common the farther south you go, with the area at and around Wilmington reporting them commonly and the Albemarle Sound and tributaries less often. I can only guess one might see a gator from shore, but I can't recall the last time I saw one.

    I see your location is Michigan's UP. I spent two memorable April-November periods (ice-out to ice-in) doing mineral exploration field work in Crystal Falls, in Iron County on the Wisconsin line. It was in the early 80s and I've wanted to get back for a visit ever since.

    Enjoy the Outer Banks and eastern NC. Don't let the snakes worry you but so much. Most of them are more afraid of you than you are of them. Just make lots of noise and you'll probably never see one.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    From what I understand, reservations are highly recommended for either of the Ocracoke to the mainland ferries.

  7. #7


    Thanks for the added info. I'll look into reservation. Pringles

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