The centerpiece of the park is the 1834 pentagon-shape fortress used first to protect the coast against foreign invaders and pirates, then against Yankees during the Civil War. You can explore on your own or take a guided tour. The 365-acre park set in a maritime forest also offers picnic areas, hiking trails, a mile-long beachfront with a large bathhouse, showers, and refreshments, and summer concerts. Rangers offer a wide selection of nature talks and walks, including Civil War weapons demonstrations, bird or butterfly hikes, and beach explorations. Follow the boardwalk over the dunes to the beach, which, due to strong currents, has lifeguards on duty June through Labor Day from 10 to 5:45. The park is at the east end of Route 58 on Bogue Banks, 3 miles south of Morehead city.