NPW with Patrick Metzger

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National Park Week - Patrick Metzger - Cape Lookout National Seashore

National Park Service - Find A Park

This week we’re posting a series of posts to celebrate National Park Week (April 15-23, 2017), America’s largest celebration of national heritage. Each post will feature one PSO team member and their favorite national park in a Q&A style format. Go Find Your Park! and enjoy free admission April 15/16 & 22/23!

Cape Lookout National Seashore, Outerbanks, NC

Driver: Patrick Metzger.
Vehicle: @4Runner84.

What is your favorite NP?
There are so many to choose from, but I would have to say the most distinctive experience was my visit to Cape Lookout National Park.

Metzger Cape Lookout

What is it that makes this park so special for you? 
There are not many National Parks here in the US that offers you the history, flora and fauna, fishing, beach, and isolation that Cape Lookout National Park offers. This park offered me a couple of check marks on my travel bucket list, one of which is taking my vehicle on a ferry and the other is camping on the beach. Riding up and down the trail on the dunes (on marked roads) reminded me of my travels to Mojave Desert in California. Getting the opportunity to travel on the beach was a conglomeration of fun, accomplishment, and stressfulness and maybe a twinge of anxiety due to the significant roll resistance of the sand and the risk of potentially getting stuck. I did air down and I gradually got used to the feel of driving on the sand and knew I would not get stuck.

Metzger National Park Week Cape Lookout

lighthouse metzger cape lookoutOn the South Core Island, we drove down to the Cape Lookout Lights house and spent a ½ day between eating lunch, visiting the lighthouse and hiking some trails. We met a volunteer to the park that was helping with the restoration of the Lighthouse and the Lighthouse living quarters. I was very impressed with the preservation efforts albeit slow since it was almost exclusively volunteer-based, but the Lighthouse itself was in immaculate condition on the outside.

After a stormy night on the beach, the next day we took a ferry back to the mainland and hopped on the next one to get to the North Core Banks. We drove up to the north side of the island in hopes of making it to the Portsmouth Village, but due to the weather patterns and high tide, we decided the Portsmouth flats were too flooded to make it safely. We ended up spending a 2nd-night camping on the beach and while the first night was stormy, the second night was perfect with about a 5-mile an hour wind and clear skies. I took a few night pictures and enjoyed the sound of the beach while grilling my meal. That was a great night!

We were unable to get to Ocracoke due to the ferry cancellations, but overall this park was a very fun and unique experience. I fully intend on bringing my family back and maybe staying for a week and enjoying all that the park has to offer.
We were unable to get to Ocracoke due to the ferry cancellations, but overall this park was a very fun and unique experience. I fully intend on bringing my family back and maybe staying for a week and enjoying all that the park has to offer.

What should I expect when traveling to Cape Lookout?
If you travel to the park during the peak season, you can expect nice weather and a lot of traffic at the primary passenger ferry activities. There is so much beach available that I would not imagine that you would ever have to fight for beach camping space. These islands offer some great beach fishing, so you will have to research the best times of the year to fish. If you travel here out of season, you have to be very cognizant of the weather patterns and how they might affect ferry cancellations. Also, bring lots of sunscreen and a full tank of gas if you expect to drive across the island.

What else do you want people to know about your favorite National Park?

Supporting our favorite National Parks is the best way we can preserve these wonderful experiences for our children and grandchildren. Here are a few ways from the National Park Service Website that you can support Cape Lookout National Seashore or almost any National Park you visit.

Practice the Leave No Trace principles during your visit to help us keep the beach clean. Bring a bag with you to the islands to collect all your empty drink bottles, cans, wrappers, baggies, and other leftovers from your picnic as well as any trash you may find. Be sure to bring your bag back to the mainland for proper disposal and recycling.

Purchase something in the bookstore at one of our visitor centers. A portion of all sales of books and other items is returned to the park to support our visitor programs and activities.

Join one of our friends groups, which provides support for many programs and activities at Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Volunteer your time and talents to assist the park with a variety of needs. There are opportunities for both individuals and groups to help the park for a single day or for longer periods.

Make a donation to the park. Whether you make a monetary donation in support of a project or program or donate a historical item to our museum collection, all donations are appreciated.

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