Alligator River/Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
P. O. Box 1969
Manteo, North Carolina 27954

Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131

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News Release

October 16, 2009

Outer Banks Scenic Byway Gets National Designation

The Outer Banks Scenic Byway received national status on Friday, October 16, 2009, as one of America's Byways®, placing NC Highway 12 on the map, so to speak, for its fascinating coastal heritage and unique natural landscapes, making the leg of the historic two-lane highway from Nags Head, NC to Down East a perfect autumn drive for exploring the beauty of the barrier islands and connecting with the coastal communities that set the destination apart.

"The Outer Banks touch people in different ways. Part of that connection, whether it is to the beach, or the landscape, or to the memories made while vacationing here is inextricably linked to the drive," explains Lee Nettles, managing director for the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. "When you round the curve of NC 12 and see Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Island for the first time, for example, that never leaves you. Those moments of surprise and wonder continue the whole length of the Outer Banks Scenic Byway." (

The itinerary for this newest national byway features drives along barrier islands featuring national landmarks and coastal villages and two car ferry rides. The byway travels through two national seashores, Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout, and two national wildlife refuges, Pea Island and Cedar Island. Along the byway are four historic lighthouses and world famous stopovers for migrating song birds and waterfowl.

To explore the natural world that created byway stories, Wings over Water offers a six-day celebration of the wild side of the Outer Banks region. The Nov. 3 to 8 celebration features over 100 adventurous field trips, including kayaking at sunrise and sunset, exploring shifting sands, and venturing to the close-by Gulf Stream to view seabirds.

Aerial view of byway running North out of Rodanthe
Heading north from the village of Rodanthe, NC Highway 12 appears as a fragile vein running through Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Photo Credit: USFWS.