long period of sometimes gusty northeast wind and high waves pounding
the beach have made off-road vehicle travel to Cape Point challenging
September 25, 2014
Winds, seas have made ORV
travel to Cape Point treacherous
By IRENE NOLAN
National Park Service law enforcement rangers
did close the area briefly over the weekend to assess the situation and
then re-opened it and stayed nearby for a time to warn drivers of the
Now the ORV route to Cape Point is marked with
a sign warning drivers that it may be impassable during periods of high
tides. And it could be dangerous for drivers unfamiliar with beach
driving at other times.
According to NPS public affairs
specialist Cyndy Holda, the beach adjacent to and immediately south of
the area known as the "Narrows" has badly eroded and there has been an
escarpment -- or steep cliff -- making travel there impossible at times
at high tide.
Although there is a bypass behind the dunes right
at the Narrows, the bypass itself returns to the beach in the badly
eroded area, reducing its usefulness to drivers.
Drivers who do
decide to make the trip should be aware of the tides and even wind
direction. If you get out there at low tide, you may not be able
to get back at high tide and have to wait until the next low water.
said some callers to the Park Service headquarters have asked why Ramp
45 cannot be opened so that ORVs have access to Cape Point from the
south, instead of through Ramps 43 or 44 to the north.
notes that since the seashore's ORV plan and special regulation were
implemented in February 2012, the area just south of the Point is a
vehicle-free area (VFA) and that Ramp 45 in no longer available as on
The regulations allow the superintendent to open
routes that are closed to ORVs temporarily but only under very specific
For instance, for a weekend last winter, the
beach in that area was opened to ORVs, so that vehicles could travel
from Ramp 45 in Buxton to Ramp 49 in Frisco while the N.C. Department
of Transportation closed Highway 12 to traffic for two days to replace
In that instance, the VFA was opened for only two
days in the late winter when fewer folks are on the beach and the beach
route was needed for reasons of public safety.
Holda said she has also been asked why the Park Service can't put a front-end loader on the beach to knock down the sand cliff.
Heavy equipment work on the beach would need compliance and
approval by other agencies, and we do not perform that type of work on
a "natural" beach without a great deal of oversight from all," Holda
said in an e-mail. "The NPS (has been) cited by a state agency for use
of heavy equipment work on the beach to open a drainage ditch without
the proper required permits."
The erosion of the beach at the
narrows is not unusual, especially in the winter, when the prevailing
winds tend to be from the northeast. A southwest wind for a
period of time helps the beach build back out.
And what we need for the fall fishing season is more southwest wind.