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Outer Banks Leash Laws: Rules & Regulations from Corolla to Nags Head to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Outer Banks Leash Laws: Rules & Regulations from Corolla to Nags Head to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore

alt="A happy dog sits on the beach with ocean waves and mossy rocks behind him"Stretching from the southern border of coastal Virginia to the tip of legendary Ocracoke Island, the Outer Banks of North Carolina feature some of the most dog-friendly beaches in the United States. Boasting more than 200 miles of unspoiled shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean, this picturesque string of barrier island beaches has beckoned vacationers to its sun-soaked seashore for more than a century—and what better way to enjoy some fun in the sun than letting your four-legged family member tag along on your trip?

alt="A smiling Shiba Inu is enjoying a beach day on the Outer Banks of North Carolina"To ensure your furry friend stays safe during your visit to the beach this year—and to avoid potentially being fined for breaking the rules and regulations regarding pets on the beach—it’s important to be aware of and to follow these Outer Banks leash laws. Whether you’re spending your week of rest and relaxation in Corolla, Kill Devil Hills, the tiny villages that comprise Hatteras Island or any of the beautiful beaches in between, we’ve got you covered with the most up-to-date Outer Banks leash laws for 2019 below.

OUTER BANKS LEASH LAWS ON THE NORTHERN BEACHES:

Learn the rules and regulations regarding Outer Banks leash laws in Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Corolla, Duck and Southern Shores.

NAGS HEAD:

Perhaps the most well-known of all the towns on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Nags Head is also one of the most popular, attracting tens of thousands of visitors to its shoreline each year.

Vacationers who travel to Nags Head with their dogs must keep them restrained with leashes no longer than 10 feet. Dogs are permitted on Nags Head beaches year-round; however, violations of the town’s leash law could result in a criminal and/or civil penalty.

KILL DEVIL HILLS:

Home to the Outer Banks’ largest year-round population, Kill Devil Hills is best-known for being the site where the Wright Brothers launched the world’s first powered flight on December 17, 1903—a historical accomplishment that is commemorated at the Wright Brothers National Memorial.

Because it has such a large population of local residents—approximately 7,000 people—in addition to the thousands of visitors that are drawn to the town for vacation each season, Kill Devil Hills also has some of the strictest Outer Banks leash laws.

During the in-season (from Memorial Day through Labor Day each year), dogs are only permitted to be on the beaches of Kill Devil Hills before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m.—with the exception of registered service dogs who are being used to aid an individual with a disability.

For the remainder of the year, dogs are permitted on the beach at any time; however, they must be kept on a leash and under the supervision and control of their owner or handler at all times.

KITTY HAWK:

Much like its neighbor to the south, Kitty Hawk is also home to a large population of local residents. This northern Outer Banks town is exceptionally pet-friendly—dogs are welcome on Kitty Hawk’s beaches year-round—although different sets of Outer Banks leash laws and restrictions apply depending upon both the time of year and the time of day.

During the in-season—which the town considers to be the Friday before Memorial Day until the day after Labor Day each year—dogs are permitted on the beaches in Kitty Hawk, but between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. they must be kept on a leash that does not exceed six feet in length.

Throughout the remainder of the year (the off-season), Kitty Hawk allows dogs to be on the town’s beaches with retractable leashes up to 12 feet in length. Dogs may be taken off leash on Kitty’s Hawk beaches only if they will not disturb or interfere with other beachgoers and their pets. Unleashed dogs are required to be under the strict control of their owner or handler, and this person must remain within 30 feet of their unleashed dog at all times.

Owners/handlers must also possess a leash for their dog, as well as a bag or container for pet waste removal at all times. Violation of these Outer Banks leash laws in Kitty Hawk is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $50.

COROLLA:

Situated upon the northernmost portion of the Outer Banks, the village of Corolla is located in Currituck County and best-known for its most famous residents: the herd of wild horses that roam the beaches of this unique coastal community.

Dogs are permitted on the beaches of Corolla year-round; however, Outer Banks leash laws require that they be restrained on a leash at all times. There are currently no restrictions on the length of the leash.

DUCK:

When it comes to Outer Banks leash laws, Duck has one of the least restrictive of all of North Carolina’s pet-friendly barrier island beaches.

Dogs are permitted to be unleashed on the beaches of Duck at any time; however, they must remain under the supervision of their owner or handler at all times as a matter of courtesy and public safety.

SOUTHERN SHORES: 

Spanning fewer than five miles from north to south, Southern Shores’ coastline is one of the smallest stretches of beach on the Outer Banks.

During the in-season—which runs from May 15 to September 15 each year—dogs are allowed on the beaches of Southern Shores only before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m.

During the off-season—which runs from September 16 to May 14 each year—there are no restrictions on the hours that dogs are permitted to be on the town’s beaches.

Southern Shores enforces a year-round leash law, meaning dogs are NOT allowed to be off-leash on the beach at any time. In addition, the town mandates that leashes must not exceed 10 feet in length.

OUTER BANKS LEASH LAWS ON THE SOUTHERN BEACHES:

CAPE HATTERAS NATIONAL SEASHORE:

Learn the rules and regulations regarding Outer Banks leash laws within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. This includes the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras, as well as Ocracoke Island.

Beginning in South Nags Head and continuing through both Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore is the crown jewel of the North Carolina coastline. This 70-mile-long stretch of pristine and predominantly uninhabited shoreline is home to a wide array of attractions, including the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.

Dogs are welcome on the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore as long as they are restrained at all times on a leash that does not exceed six feet in length. However, pets are not permitted within any resource enclosures, on designated swim beaches (signs will notify you of these locations), or inside designated buildings—such as visitor centers, museums, etc.

THE TOP PET-FRIENDLY OUTER BANKS ATTRACTIONS:

alt="A golden retriever with a tennis ball in his mouth is playing in the ocean waves"Looking for some fun and exciting places you can visit with your four-legged friends while you’re enjoying your stay on the North Carolina coast?

Check out our list of the top pet-friendly attractions on the Outer Banks here!

 

 

 

The Top Pet-Friendly Outer Banks Attractions

alt="A Shiba Inu stares out at the Atlantic Ocean from the sand dunes on the Outer Banks of North Carolina"
Photo: Stephanie Banfield

With more than 200 miles of seashore stretching along the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean to the east as well as the Currituck, Roanoke and Pamlico sounds to the west, the Outer Banks of North Carolina offers something for everyone to enjoy—including the four-legged members of your family. From the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton and the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills to Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head and the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on the northern tip of Hatteras Island, you’ll find dozens of pet-friendly Outer Banks attractions that welcome your furry friend to tag along on your adventures.

If you wouldn’t dream of leaving your four-legged family members at home while you spend your summer vacation on the barrier islands, be sure to scope out the following dog-friendly places on the Outer Banks the next time you visit:

Jockey’s Ridge State Park

alt="A hang-glider soars over Jockey's Ridge State Park, one of the most popular pet-friendly Outer Banks attractions"
Photo: Pinterest

Stretching 100 feet into the sky and covering a 420-acre area along the shores of the Roanoke Sound in Nags Head, Jockey’s Ridge is the tallest “living” sand dune system in the eastern United States. The colossal mound of sand that makes up this popular state park is best-known for providing a prime spot for outdoor adventurers to take to the air while hang-gliding down from the top of the ridge. But hang-gliding isn’t the only form of outdoor recreation Jockey’s Ridge has to offer.

alt="The sun sets over the Roanoke Sound on the western edge of Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head"
Photo: WAVY TV

The park comprises three unique ecosystems—the sand dunes, a maritime thicket and an estuary at the edge of the sound—which are home to a wide array of native species of wildlife. Leash up your four-legged friend and go for a hike along one of the three self-guided nature trails that weave through the scenic parklands. During your journey you’ll have the chance to spot everything from white-tailed deer and red foxes to raccoons, luna moths and six-lined racerunner lizards.

Pet Rules in Jockey’s Ridge State Park: Dogs are permitted throughout Jockey’s Ridge State Park, with the exception of inside the buildings. Dogs must be on a leash at all times, and leashes should not be longer than 6 feet. Learn more about Jockey’s Ridge State Park here.

Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve

alt="The sun shines through the trees at one of the top pet-friendly Outer Banks attractions: the Nags Head Ecological Preserve"
Photo: Outer Banks This Week

Another of the best pet-friendly Outer Banks attractions located within the oceanside community of Nags Head is the Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the busy beaches, this hidden gem boasts 1,400 acres of maritime forest, sand dunes and saltmarshes just waiting to be explored by you and your furry family members. The Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve was established in the 1970s when area conservationists came to the realization that the vast majority of land on the barrier islands was undergoing massive development to accommodate the booming tourism industry on the beaches of the Outer Banks.

alt="A man kayaks along a tree-lined waterway in the Nags Head Ecological Preserve on the Outer Banks"
Photo: The Nature Conservancy

In 1974, the Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve was designated as a National Natural Landmark, guaranteeing the forever protection of the unique series of ecosystems it encompasses and the assortment of wildlife that call the confines of the preserve home. This unspoiled natural area—which lies along the shoreline of the Roanoke Sound on the western side of the island—is bordered by Jockey’s Ridge State Park to the south and Run Hill State Natural Area to the north.

Visitors can traverse the park via seven marked nature trails, each of which winds its way through the lush maritime forest, over the rolling sand dunes and past a series of freshwater ponds. While you’re hiking, keep an eye out for the more than 50 species of birds, 15 species of amphibians, 30 species of reptiles, 50 species of butterflies and 550 species of plant life that make up this one-of-a-kind ecological preserve.

Pet Rules in the Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve: All dogs much be on a leash at all times, and leashes must not exceed 6 feet in length. Leashed pets are permitted on trails 4, 5, 6 and 7. Learn more about the Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve here.

Wright Brothers National Memorial

"The Wright Brothers National Memorial, one of the top pet-friendly Outer Banks attractions, sits atop a grassy hill"
Photo: National Park Service

The Outer Banks of North Carolina are famous for being the site upon which an array of historic events have taken place over the years. From the mysterious disappearance of the Lost Colony in the 16th century to the spot where the infamous pirate named Blackbeard met his demise, the barrier islands are brimming with landmarks and attractions that highlight the area’s rich history. But perhaps the most significant historic event to ever occur on the Outer Banks was the world’s first powered flight, achieved by brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright on Dec. 17, 1903.

alt="A stone marker at the Wright Brothers National Memorial indicates the length of one of the pair's famous flights"
Photo: Trip Advisor

Situated in the heart of Kill Devil Hills, the Wright Brothers National Memorial is one of the must-visit pet-friendly Outer Banks attractions. This historic site pays homage to the unprecedented achievement and the pair who forever altered the world of aviation well over a century ago.

When you visit the site you’ll discover an enormous monument that sits atop a huge hill in the middle of the park, as well as a visitors center, a series of exhibits and the “flight line” that shows the landing spots along the path where the Wright Brothers attempted several flights that day before finally reaching success with the fourth. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, leash up your dog and head up the hill to the base of the monument overlooking the memorial grounds. From here you’ll enjoy stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Roanoke Sound to the west and the town that stretches out below. 

Pet Rules at the Wright Brothers National Memorial: Pets are permitted on the grounds of the Wright Brothers National Memorial but not inside any buildings. Pets must be on a leash at all times, and leashes must not exceed 6 feet in length. 

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

alt="The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound, as seen in this aerial of the island"
Photo: REAL Watersports

When it comes to the best beaches in the United States, nothing can compare to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. And if your search for pet-friendly Outer Banks attractions includes coming across wide expanses of sandy shoreline, windswept sand dunes topped with sea oats, uncrowded and undeveloped beaches, and scenery that is unmatched by anywhere else on the East Coast, be sure to check out the area’s crown jewel: the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Extending more than 70 miles from South Nags Head and Hatteras Island to the southernmost tip of Ocracoke Island, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore encompasses nearly 25,000 acres of preserved and protected natural habitats. along the sea and sound. Whether you explore the national seashore by boat, bicycle, kayak, car or on foot, you’ll have the chance to enjoy a wealth of activities including kiteboarding, surfing, swimming, fishing, crabbing, shell-hunting, wildlife-watching, sightseeing and so much more.

alt="The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse stands tall amid sand dunes and sea oats on the Outer Banks of North Carolina"
Photo: Dhinoy Studios

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is also home to one of the most iconic landmarks in the country: the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Built in 1803 and standing 210 feet tall, the structure is the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States and has served as a navigational aid that has helped mariners to safely navigate the constantly shifting diamond shoals off the coast of Cape Hatteras for centuries. For an unforgettable Outer Banks experience, climb all 257 steps to the top of the lighthouse to take in the spectacular 360-degree views of the Atlantic Ocean, Pamlico Sound and surrounding villages below. 

alt="The wide expanses of undeveloped shoreline make the Cape Hatteras National Seashore one of the best pet-friendly Outer Banks attractions"
Photo: Surf or Sound Realty

When your climb is complete, leash up your dog and venture south toward Cape Point via the pristine stretch of seashore that is commonly referred to as “Buxton beach.” Here you’ll find the spot where the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse originally stood—before it was moved farther inland in 1999 in an effort to save it from falling into the sea—as well as unparalleled opportunities for spotting wildlife, finding seashells and simply enjoying a leisurely stroll along one of the most beautiful barrier island beaches in the entire world with your four-legged friend.  

Pet Rules for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore: Pets are welcome along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, but are prohibited inside any marked closures (such as bird and sea turtle nesting areas) and inside buildings. Pets must remain on a leash at all times, and leashes must not exceed 6 feet.

OUTER BANKS LEASH LAWS:

To ensure your furry friend enjoys a safe and fun vacation on the barrier islands with you this season, make sure you follow the Outer Banks leash laws while visiting your favorite pet-friendly Outer Banks attractions. These rules and regulations vary from town to town, so check out our breakdown of the most up-to-date leash laws for 2019 by clicking here!

 

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