Access and Park Issues
Cape Point re-opens to off-road
The National Park Service re-opened Cape Point to vehicles today, a
full week earlier than last year.
The east side of Cape Point is open to vehicles from 6 a.m. until 10
p.m. daily. Night driving is prohibited from 10 p.m. until 6
A pre-nesting closure west of Cape Point on the South Beach is still
closed to pedestrians and ORVs, as is Ramp 45 behind the Cape Point
Island Free Press correspondent Rob Alderman said folks were expecting
today’s opening and were lined up and ready about 7:30 a.m. when the
signs and fencing blocking vehicles from Cape Point came down.
Cape Point was closed to ORVs on May 13 when piping plover nests in the
area began hatching. For a while, limited access was allowed to
pedestrians who waded below the low tide line to the Point. However,
the limited access was also closed on May 24.
The last of 15 piping plover chicks at Cape Point had fledged by July
1. The piping plovers are the only federally listed birds that are
protected under a consent decree that settled a lawsuit by
environmental groups against the Park Service.
However, the area remained closed until July 7 when the final brood of
American oystercatcher chicks in the area fledged. These
are not federally protected but are a state species of special concern.
A pedestrian corridor from Ramp 44 to Cape Point was opened on July 7,
but ORVs were prohibited until two weeks after the last oystercatcher
chicks in the area fledged.
Alderman said the Point was longer than it’s been for some
He added that two islands that had formed on the shoals off the Point
had merged into one large island, which he estimated to be 100 feet or
so from the beach.
He said that at low tide, the water was rushing through the narrow
channel between the shore and the island and was probably 6 or 7 feet
deep in places. He said he wouldn’t recommend that folks try
Doug McGee, the Park Service’s lead biologist for Hatteras, has said
that he thinks the earlier pre-nesting closures benefited this year’s
breeding pairs, who settled down and started nesting slightly earlier
than last year. Also, he said the wet spring kept the areas in which
the birds like to forage around the salt pond moist later in the spring
For up-to-date information on currently open or closed areas, check the
Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s Google Earth maps at: http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/googleearthmap.htm