Lighthouse climbing season returns to the Outer Banks – The Virginian-Pilot


The Bodie Island Lighthouse on North Carolina’s Outer Banks will reopen for climbing on April 27, while Cape Hatteras Beacon, closed since 2019, may also offer some limited tours this summer.

Climbing at the 165-foot Bodie Lighthouse south of Nags Head will continue into early fall, with events this summer to celebrate the historic structure’s 150th anniversary, the National Park Service said.

The Bodie Light, as it is locally known, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the third lighthouse built near Oregon Inlet. The first was demolished due to structural problems and the second was destroyed during the civil war. First lit on October 1, 1872, the lighthouse still uses its original Fresnel lens, named for the French physicist who designed it.

The lighthouse is open for climbs Wednesday through Saturday, and tickets are sold at 7am each day. They can only be purchased on the same day of your intended climb.

A major restoration project is ongoing at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton, but the National Park Service said a pause between phases of work could allow for a limited climbing season. The park service expects to make an announcement in the next few months.

The interior of the 198-foot structure was stripped of paint last year, keeping the lighthouse closed for climbing during Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s busiest tourist season since 2002. It was closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Park officials are focused on restoring some of the lighthouse’s historic distinctive features, including the lens that provided the beacon’s beam from 1870 to 1936. The lens, also a Fresnel lens, now greets visitors to the nearby Atlantic Museum Cemetery.

The site will make up a large part of the renovation, with the park service planning to restore some of the landscape and native grasses that were around the lighthouse before it was removed from the beach in 1999.

Designed and built between 1868 and 1870, the lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in the United States. About 500,000 people visit the beacon each year, and about 1,500 people climb the lighthouse daily between April and October, the park service said.

The Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla opened for climbing in March and is open daily from 9am to 5pm

The last brick-and-mortar lighthouse built in North Carolina in 1875, the 162-foot lighthouse is maintained by the Outer Banks conservationists and state.

Kari Pugh, [email protected]