Visitors to the island often ask if they can climb the lighthouse. Unfortunately, this is not allowed. There are, of course, good reasons for this.
-- The lighthouse (built in 1823) is more than 180 years old.
-- The final 8 feet of the climb is by means of a narrow, steep ladder.
-- The access to the light is nothing more than a hatch in the floor.
-- The light & the fresnel lens take up most of the space at the top of the tower, leaving little room for visitors.
-- The door onto the balcony is only about 4 feet high.
-- The railing around the balcony was not designed to keep toddlers or small children from slipping off the edge.
In short, the Ocracoke lighthouse was designed for a lighthouse keeper, not for visitors. However, on special occasions (most notably, July 4) the base of the lighthouse is often opened to the public by the National Park Service.
Today, between 10 am and 3 pm, the lighthouse will also be open for public viewing. Gail Fox, one of our newer rangers, realized that many local residents had never been inside the lighthouse (most islanders work all day on the 4th of July). So she arranged to have the door open today for the general public, and especially for Ocracokers.
Many thanks to Gail for her thoughtful consideration.