Climbing the Tallest Sand Dune on the East Coast!

Exploring Jockey’s Ridge State Park!

by Rachelle Siegrist

sunrise at jockey's ridge state park.jpg

Wow . . . I can’t believe it’s already been a week since we headed over to North Carolina’s beautiful Outer Banks, to judge the 25th International Miniature Art Show, at Seaside Art Gallery located in picturesque Nags Head. Early Monday morning, before heading to the gallery, we went to explore Jockey’s Ridge State Park, after reading about the large sand dunes there.

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A section of the tracks in the sand trail

We started out walking along the sandy trail enveloped by a canopy of short, squatty trees which gradually opened up, exposing slightly larger sandy areas lined by trees and shrubs. Walking along barefoot, I kept seeing more sand and less trees, until suddenly the trail opened up revealing nothing but sand and sky as far as the eye could see, it was truly amazing!

rachelle siegrist at jockey's ridge state park.jpg
Ah . . . the cool sand feels great to my tootsies!

I had never seen such humongous hills of sand, also known as a medano, in my entire life!  The early morning sun bathed the dune in a warm golden glow which paired magnificently against the beautiful dark sky and clouds! My feet had indeed found heaven, for everywhere I looked there was sand and I knew immediately I had to climb to the top!

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The first good glimpse of the one large dune

So I began climbing the steep angled side of the dune, sand shifting under foot with each step making it somewhat challenging. The setting looked like a scene straight out of an epic movie set in the desert somewhere far . . . far away! Having always wanted to play the part of the heat stricken person walking across the desert sands, suddenly I imagined myself bent over while slowly dragging my feet with each step, parched lips saying with a very weakened voice . . . water . . . water . . . water . . . before collapsing to my sandy death with the sun beating down on my back . . . Ha Ha!

early morning at jockey's ridge state park
Going . . .
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Going . . .
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Made it to the top!

The further we went, the more amazing this place became, and it was decided that we would return here later in the day after judging the show, to explore more of this sandy world.  Once I got to the top I could see a 360° magnificent view arching from the ocean to the Roanoke sound! Looking down the dune, I could see Wes who now appeared as a small dot far off in the distance below.

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A couple of panoramic shots of this amazing place!

sunset at jockey's ridge NC

We returned later that afternoon to the tallest living sand in on the Atlantic coast, who’s heights vary from 80 to 100 feet depending on weather conditions and winds shifting between summer and winter, that constantly blow the sand back-and-forth, thus keeping the giant hills in place.  After being sighted by French and Spanish explorers this tall sandy ridge became an important landmarks for mariners.  We enjoyed walking the Boardwalk Trail, Sound Side Nature Trail and the Tracks in the Sand Trail, spotting several beautiful wildflowers blooming along the way. We saw and heard lots of birds as well, and each time we came to a wooded area we saw several warblers, bunnies playing and squirrels searching for food.

murtle blooming at jockey's ridge state park
Beach Heather (red one above) and a couple other wildflowers blooming on the dunes
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I see a miniature painting of these cuties in our near future!

At the end of the trail we had to climb a very steep sandy hill and reaching the top, were treated to yet another magnificent view of the large dunes. Once on the very top we could see where the sand was shifting down, literally swallowing up entire trees as it went. At the top we saw several bunnies playing and running about which we enjoyed watching and photographing for quite some time.

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Wes is a wee little spot on the top left corner of the dune
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A closer shot to reveal the sheer size of the dune

We were thankful to have the dunes pretty much to ourselves up to this point as we enjoyed watching the setting sun painting the sky in an array of pinks and yellows. Heading to the top of the large dune we noticed a few people were flying kites, with more many more coming, and before we knew it found ourselves surrounded by a large group of people who also wanted to enjoy this magnificent living work of art!

sunset at jokey's ridge state park
Wes photographing the sunset
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In heaven while taking it all in

As the sun dipped low into the sky we absorbed the sheer beauty of it all before heading back down the dune.  Jockey’s Ridge State Park is truly an amazing place, and I highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in the Nags Head region of the Outer Banks!  Needless to say, there are a few miniature landscape paintings of this gorgeous spot already in the works!

sunset at jokey's ridge on outer banks
The magnificent sunset from the top edge
rachelle siegrist by roanoke sound OBX
At the base of the dunes by the sound

 ~ Currently On the Easel ~

Here’s a recent dog painting of mine, featuring an adorable St. Bernard!  Who could resist that face, and with such great half-closed eyes and all of that drool, I personally couldn’t resist painting him!

st-bernard-dog-painting by rachelle siegrist.jpg
“Gi’me Some Sugar!” by Rachelle

Wes recently finished his painting of a Red Knot, which we photographed during one of our delightful walks along the beach while visiting the Ft. Myers and Sanibel Island areas in Florida last May. We both so enjoy watching the variety of shorebirds while on the beach!  This was the first time we’d ever seen a Red Knot.

“Red Knot at the Wrack Line” by Wes

painting a dog painting by rachelle siegrist - 1.jpg

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


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