Navigating the Outer Banks 4x4 Country!
Navigating the Outer Banks 4x4 Beaches!
Welcome to the Outer Banks, outdoor enthusiast. You’ve come to the beach to get away from it all (at least for a week or two) and you’re ready to explore everything the OBX has to offer. One of the greatest adventures is taking the family truckster on the beach for some fishing, sunbathing and good old fashion family beach time fun. If your thinking about driving on the beach, take a few minutes and read on... There’s some things to consider!
1.) 4x4 is highly suggested if you’re thinking about even pulling over into the sand!
Despite being called the Graveyard of the Atlantic for it’s shipwrecks, the Outer Banks beaches have also claimed countless vehicles. Most of them are AWD (All Wheel Drive) vehicles that appear to have the clearance, yet don’t engage the sand the same way a 4x4 would, thus making them susceptible to sinking, bumper deep, into the drifts. It’s suggested that only four wheel drive (4WD) vehicles attempt to navigate the deep sand. It’s good to be mindful of what your tires are on, even pulling over alongside the road as the sand pits will easily claim your vehicle and have you stuck until you’re pulled out. Even stock 4x4 vehicles should be ok in the deepest of dunes but, even the seasoned driver gets stuck every once in awhile.
2.) Big Tires don’t necessarily mean good traction... AIR THEM DOWN!
One of the first things you’ll notice on the Outer Banks is the abundance of lifted vehicles with oversized tires and wheels. Most locals understand these make island living a bit easier when the harsh storms, flooding and over-wash that occurs from time to time. However, regardless of the sized tire, it’s advised by the National Park Service to air down to a minimum of 20psi (15-18psi is even better) to ensure you’re tire “footprint” is maximized to handle the softer and deeper sand. If you find your vehicle working hard to keep moving forward, perhaps you should consider dropping a few more pounds out of the tires. A handy tire gauge is a must for your glovebox so, be sure you have one of them available before you start. There are plenty of air stations available once your back off the beach to air them back up to their proper inflated pressure.
3.) Don’t be a pioneer... Be sure to STAY IN THE TRACKS!
Once you’ve hit the beach access and made it over the dunes, you’ll have to make a decision; RIGHT or LEFT? Regardless of whatever direction you may choose, there will be a well-used set of tracks headed that direction. It’s advised you stick within those tracks until you have found your end destination to avoid double parking in stuck city, veering off the beaten path. Most tracks stick closer to the dune and away from the waterline to avoid any interaction or disturbance with the wildlife of the island (or folks strolling the beach.) Once you’ve found your destination spot, simply merge off the path and park per the rules and regulations of the beach. Be sure not to speed as you drive or pass other vehicles ahead of you that may be going slower. You can get a speeding ticket (15mph speed limit) so, be sure to keep your foot off the gas! ...a heavy foot is a quick way to get stuck too.
4.) Pack a few things just in case you visit stuck city...
Like any good adventure, it’s best to set out with everything you need “just in case” things happen that are unforeseen, like getting buried to your bumpers in under 30 seconds, type things. Here’s a few suggestions to have at your fingertips before you trek out onto the sand:
- Folding Shovel or Spade - Doesn’t need to be big, just big enough to help dig your tires out.
- Wheel Tracks or Tire Grips - These are handy for digging some room and placing under the tires to assist in traction to pull out of a hole.
- Tow Strap or Wench Rope - It’s amazing how confident you become knowing you have a strap that could potentially help you get pulled out of a bind. They aren’t expensive and a heavy duty one is worth it’s weight in gold on the beach in a jam.
- Charged Cell Phone - This one is a bit self explanatory but, there are some spots on the Outer Banks beaches where cell service is a bit suspect. Therefore, a fully charged phone will ensure you can at least call a 4x4 tow service if all else fails.
- Fire Extinguisher- Worst case scenario is to have your vehicle overheat due to working hard in the deep sand and catch on fire as it would take awhile for responders to appear.
- A Few “Extra Bucks” in your wallet - Most locals are willing to help a stuck visitor out as, again, it could happen to anyone. The neighborly approach is alive and well and, if you have a tow strap and been working hard to dig out, chances are a local will give you a hand. It’s best to show them some love with a little tip. It goes a long way and inevitably will save you 10X the amount if a tow truck got dispatched. It’s the right thing to do too...
5.) Don’t forget to show your vehicle some love once you’re off the beach!
The first thing you should consider when you get home from a day of beach driving is a good wash down of your vehicle, both on the top and under the frame. Salt air, ocean water and wet sand all combine to make a corrosive cocktail and, to neglect washing it off your vehicle is allowing rust and other problems to surface. There are plenty of car wash stations around (and most houses have a high pressure hose) so, showing your vehicle a little soap and water is the perfect way to cap off your beach adventure, and insure your car will be around for the next trip.
Driving on the Outer Banks is a lot of fun so long as you’re aware of what’s happening. All beach driving requires a permit or pass and the rules and regulations vary between the counties (Currituck & Dare) and the National Park Service. You can learn more about obtaining ORV (Off Road Vehicle) passes by visiting www.recreation.gov/vehiclepermits on the Cape Hatteras website or Currituck County website for Northern Corolla / Carova area.
Want to live on the outer banks?
The time is now to consider the Outer Banks as your next primary home or secondary house for rental or personal use. Click the contact tab on this site or find me on Facebook to see how I can help make your dreams of sandy toe lifestyles a reality! Visit me online at OBXbyEmily.com to learn more!
See you on the Outer Banks!