A lesser-known activity that’s available at Jockey’s Ridge State Park during certain times of the year is sandboarding. The dunes are recognized as being one of the best spots to fly a kite on North Carolina’s Outer Banks and considered by many to be the number one place to learn how to dune hang glide in the country.
Although the Wright brothers chose to fly their homemade gliders off Kill Devil Hill to the south, Jockey’s Ridge’s soft sand and smooth winds make the dune system a premier location for aviation recreation.
Apart from the incredibly ideal kite flying and hang gliding conditions, Jockey’s Ridge State Park is considered to be the very best spot for sandboarding on the East Coast – a designation that is rarely touted by the state park. The area doesn’t receive much snow on a regular basis – maybe 1 to 2 inches a year – so board riding locals have gravitated to the dune for sandboarding fun for decades.
Sandboarding is essentially the same thing as snowboarding, except you’re riding on sand instead of snow. One of the best advantages of choosing sandboarding is that all you need is a good board and enough endurance to scale up and down the dunes after riding down because unlike snowboarding, there are no ski lifts!
In addition to sandboarding, the younger audience typically enjoys sand dune sledding, which is a casual affair here on the Outer Banks… which fits into the laid-back lifestyle you’ll find elsewhere on the thin strip of barrier islands. On any given day, you’ll be able to easily spot kids of all ages sliding on cardboard boxes and body boards at Jockey’s Ridge. Sand sledding does not require a permit, however sandboarding does and is only permitted on the dunes from October through March.
Permits must be obtained from the park office and parents will be required to sign for anyone under 18. Please visit Jockey’s Ridge State Park’s website for additional information about the park and other recreation activities available.