The National Scenic Byways Program recognizes, protects and promotes America’s most outstanding roadways. With its picturesque lighthouses, rolling sand dunes, stunning beaches, brackish marshes, thriving wildlife and unique maritime culture, the landscape of the Outer Banks certainly meets the definition of outstanding. The Outer Banks National Scenic Byway’s north entrance is at Whalebone Junction in Nags Head, which is also the northernmost entrance to Cape Hatteras National Seashore. A small information center provides a rest stop to orient travelers before the leave the more populated beach towns of Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk behind. The entire Byway encompasses 142.5 driving (and ferry) miles through Bodie, Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, continuing down to Hyde and Carteret counties. Some highlights of the Byway include the Bodie Island Lighthouse and Chicamocomico Lifesaving Station, Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, Herbert C. Bonner Bridge and Pea Island Refuge Visitor’s Center. Traveling farther south, the historic maritime villages of Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo, along with the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station, roll into view, followed by the Cape Hatteras lighthouse in Buxton and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras. A ferry ride to Ocracoke’s Banker ponies, lighthouse and British cemetery follows. Travelers on the Byway will discover pristine beaches and miles of outdoor trails ideal for bird watching, ascend lighthouses, sample local seafood and explore museums, shops and restaurants rich in historic maritime culture.
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