National Park Service
Ocracoke is an island that’s practically a National Park.
The National Park Service (NPS) has an enormous presence on Ocracoke Island, because the majority of the island is designated as part of the Hatteras National Seashore and federally protected. It’s the reason the island can boast miles of undeveloped, protected beaches, and why Mother Nature is so pristine here.
National Park Service Programs
The NPS offers a wide variety of interpretive programs, guided walks, and ranger programs—and each is a great way to explore the island. Turtle talks, Seashore Arts, and Evening Campfire are some of the most popular kids’ programs. The Visitor Center the NPS manages and maintains is a great place to learn about the island ponies and seashore history.
Stop in for a visit.
The Ocracoke National Park Service Visitor Center and bookstore is located along the shores of Silver Lake, across from the Ocracoke Preservation Society at the southern tip of the village, adjacent to the Swan Quarter and Cedar Island ferry terminal. It is open 7 days a week throughout the year, except Christmas.
On the sound side of the island seven miles north of Ocracoke Village is a 188-acre plot of land. Behind a wooden fence lives the herd of Ocracoke Banker Ponies, descendants of Spanish mustangs who survived a shipwreck just offshore several hundred years ago. Due to the traffic on Highway 12 through Ocracoke, the Banker Ponies were penned in 1959 and have been cared for by the National Park Service ever since.
A visit to the Pony Pen is a must for any traveler to Ocracoke. The ponies have a wide range of sound-side beach and marsh to explore, but they prefer to hang around their paddocks and stables (especially near feeding time), so you can almost always spot a few. The Ocracoke Pony Pen is located right off NC Highway 12 and is always open to visitors.