#AllWhoWander: Outer Banks Day Trip; Thoughts and Notes

Bob Mayer
5 min readFeb 25


Outer Banks

My latest wander was to the Outer Banks. I’m not a fan of interstates but since I wanted to get there in a day, I took I-40 east from Knoxville, before splitting off onto 64 east of Raleigh. 64 seems to be a road I hit a lot since I took it west to Monument Valley last year. Here, in the east, I’ve taken it through the Smokies numerous times before cutting off into National Forests.

So, now I’ve been to the eastern terminus of 64 on OBX and taken it to the western end near the Four Corners.

US 64

The track for this trip is in black on the Gaia screenshot. It was a short trip, Tuesday and back home Thursday.


The drive on 64 through the Piedmont is flat and straight. And long. The trip was farther than I had thought since I didn’t over plan this. More spur of the moment.

I passed over the long bridge to Roanoke Island and then onto the Outer Banks. I definitely wondered why anyone thought dropping people off on Roanoke would be survivable. The soil is sandy and it’s not the most welcoming place. The bridge is named for Virginia Dare, who was supposedly the first European born in North America, which totally neglects the Spanish who’d been exploring the west for a long time before the English made their foot print.

I found a camp site in the Oregon Inlet Campground. There were plenty of empty sites this time of year. You’re in the dunes, not on the beach — no camping on the beach at all. You’re also right next to the main road — after all, that ribbon of OBX is narrow all the way. No fires either which makes sense given the wind and grasses.

There is driving on the beach. Turn offs are marked all along the main road. It cost $50 for a 10-day permit. I would recommend four-wheel drive and deflating your tires to 20 psi. The sand is, well, sand. It’s not like Daytona where its hard packed. I got up before dawn the next day and drove onto the beach south of the campground and watched the sun come up which was great. Scout loved running around on the beach.

Scout on Beach

One thing — — it’s windy. I was surprised there were no wind farms although there were numerous solar farms as I drove across North Carolina.

After watching the sun come up, Scout and I drove the length down to Hatteras. Since it was early, we were at the Cape Hatteras Light House before it opened and were the only ones there. You can’t go in it anyway, so we wandered around. Then drove past the ferry and along a sand trail as far as you can go almost to the very end of the hook.

Hatteras Light House

Every time I went off onto the beach, we were alone. This was a good time of year; based on the tourist shops and restaurants, etcetera, I imagine the place is hopping during the in season. However, we were also fortunate that it wasn’t real winter weather with freezing temperatures. It was unseasonably warm, in the 60 and 70s.

Frankly, to be honest, I kept thinking about how tenuous life out there is. We lived on a barrier island for several years (Hilton Head) where the highest point was 14 feet. On OBX the highest point is the hill with the Wright Brothers monument on it, but the rest is barely 5 to 15 feet above sea level. Given the rate of climate change and the growing prevalence and strength of hurricanes, let’s say I have grave doubts as to the future of OBX. It’s a beautiful place but it’s also very isolated. Lots of summer homes on stilts and built up three stories. All crammed on top of each other.

After going to Cape Hatteras, we reversed course and went north and took in Kitty Hawk and the monument to the Wrights Brothers. They went to OBX to do their work because it was isolated. And windy.

Wright Brothers

It’s strange to think we’re only a couple of generations on from when they first did powered flight. It’s an impressive monument and worth seeing. Of course, I sent the below picture from the front of the monument to Jenny Crusie and told her they’d built a monument for me in North Carolina. She didn’t buy into it.


We headed for home avoiding the Interstate so across the north of North Carolina just below the Virginia border. I didn’t know where we’d spent the night, but using my various boondocking and camping apps finally settled on Hanging Rocky State Park.

We pulled in and every camp site had a reserved sign on it which was weird even though only about three were occupied. So I checked on line (luckily there was a signal) and most were open. I guess they just put the reserved sign up to make you sign in??? We checked in on-line, which is becoming more and more prevalent across the country. The only problem I have with that is you don’t know exactly what you’re getting. One time in Oklahoma I reserved a spot only to find it was pretty terrible. Luckily there was hardly anyone there so I managed to get another one.

Once more we got up before dawn and since I was there we did the walk from park HQ to the top of Hanging Rock. A bit over 3 miles out and back. It says its moderate but the last quarter mile is basically a stair master and then a really rocky scramble.

Hanging Rock

Definitely recommend a visit to OBX, but not sure I’d do it in high season.



Bob Mayer

West Point grad; Special Ops Vet; NY Times bestseller of over 80 books; for free books and over 200 free downloadable slideshows go to www.bobmayer.com