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The North Carolina Coast Sights

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

  • Lighthouse Rd., off Rte. 12 Map It
  • Buxton
  • Nautical Site/Lighthouse

Updated 10/22/2014

Fodor's Review

Authorized by Congress in 1794 to help prevent shipwrecks, this was the first lighthouse built in the region. The original structure was lost to erosion and Civil War damage; this 1870 replacement, 30 miles south of Rodanthe, is, at 210 feet, the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States. Endangered by the sea, in 1999 the lighthouse was actually raised and rolled some 2,900 feet inland to its present location. A visitor center is located near the base of the lighthouse.

In summer the Museum of the Sea in the former keeper's quarters are open for viewing, and you can climb the lighthouse's 257 narrow steps to the viewing balcony.Weekly night climbs are available in summer. Children under 42 inches tall aren't allowed to climb the lighthouse. Offshore lay the remains of the USS Monitor, a Confederate ironclad ship that sank in 1862.

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Sight Information


Lighthouse Rd., off Rte. 12, Buxton, North Carolina, 27920, United States

Map It

Sight Details:

  • Visitor center and keeper's quarters free, lighthouse tower $8
  • Visitor center and Museum of the Sea: Daily 9–5 (to 6 Fri. before Memorial Day–Labor Day). Lighthouse tower: mid-Apr.–mid-Oct., daily 9–4:30 (to 5:30 Memorial Day–Labor Day). Night climbs late May–late Aug. (call for details)

Updated 10/22/2014


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Aug 10, 2010

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Review

Make sure you call ahead in the summer! What the NPS fails to tell you is that they CLOSE walking the stairs to the top when the inside temperature of the lighthouse gets too high! During the hot summer months you are rarely permitted to enter the lighthouse.

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