By Kari Pugh | Editor
The Bodie Island Lighthouse on North Carolina’s Outer Banks reopens for climbing April 27 while the Cape Hatteras beacon — closed since 2019 — may also offer some limited tours this summer.
Climbs at the 165-foot Bodie lighthouse south of Nags Head will continue through early fall, with events in the works this summer to celebrate the historic structure’s 150th year, the National Park Service said.
The Bodie light, as it’s known locally, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the third lighthouse built near Oregon Inlet. The first was torn down due to structural issues and the second was destroyed during the Civil War. First lit on Oct. 1, 1872, the remaining lighthouse still uses its original Fresnel lens, named after the French physicist who designed it.
The lighthouse will be open for climbs Wednesdays through Saturdays with tickets on sale each day at 7 a.m. They may only be purchased the same day of your intended climb.
At the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton, a major restoration project continues, but the National Park Service said a break between phases of work may allow for a limited climbing season. The park service expects to make an announcement in the next couple months.
The 198-foot structure’s interior was stripped of paint last year, keeping the lighthouse closed for climbing during Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s busiest tourist season since 2002. It was closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Park officials are focusing on restoring some of the historic, character-defining features of the lighthouse, including the lens that supplied the beacon’s beam from 1870-1936. The lens, also a Fresnel, now greets visitors to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum nearby.
The grounds will be a large part of the renovation, with the park service planning to restore some of the landscape and native grasses that were around the lighthouse before it was moved from the beach in 1999.
The lighthouse, designed and constructed between 1868 and 1870, is the tallest light tower in the United States. About 500,000 people visit the beacon each year and about 1,500 people climb the lighthouse daily between April and October, the park service said.
The Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla opened for climbing in March and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The last brick and mortar lighthouse built in North Carolina in 1875, the 162-foot lighthouse is maintained by the Outer Banks Conservationists and the state.