Jockey's Ridge State Park
NAGS HEAD, NORTH CAROLINA
Jockey’s Ridge State Park sees over one million visitors per year and has consistently been ranked North Carolina’s most visited state park. The 426-acre park features the tallest living sand dune on the East Coast, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Roanoke Sound.
This unique park is home to three habitats – the dunes, maritime forest and the estuary. Visitors often miss the last two habitats, overlooking the vast flora and fauna found at the park. The exhibits focus on these three habitats, folding in wildlife, water and land quality, and highlighting the recreational activities. The park also boasts other benefits for visitors like healthy habits. The health of our beaches, coast and waterways is an important part of the quality of life for locals and visitors in the community.
The exhibits showcase vignettes woven together with taxidermy animals, interpretive panels, interactive elements, and tactile moments. Overhead elements transition from kites to flying birds to abstracted shapes, guiding a path around the room. The center kiosk features lit acrylic dynamic dunes, illustrating how sand and wind shift the landscape at the park. Another kiosk provides visuals of the barrier island's history and migration. A touchscreen table in the lobby gives a unique deep dive into the layers of the park, allowing users to map a path to different points of interest on an ever changing landscape.
The origin story of the park is full of interesting images, tid bids, and community. It is a grassroots story led by Carolista Baum who was very active in the push to preserve the dunes. Carolista’s daughter Ann-Cabell Baum recalled at the park ribbon cutting, “One afternoon, we were coming back across [the dunes] and there was a bulldozer. And then guess what? We ran home and told our mom. She’d promptly marched over to confront the driver, who stopped.” There is a large hand painted billboard behind the front desk, “BUY A PIECE OF THE RIDGE.. Save a square foot of Jockey's Ridge for today! For tomorrow! Forever!” The campaign (1970s) was the beginning of the Friends of Jockey's Ridge, still active today, that pushed to see the land become a park in 1975.
Interactive Immersive Experience
Fabricated by Studio Displays
“Our mission is to support, enhance and promote Jockey’s Ridge as a significant geological feature on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.”
- Mike O’Brien, Friends of Jockey’s Ridge board chair (2023)
“We have an incredible legacy with this natural resource behind us, and … it’s our responsibility every day to make sure that it is here for generations to come.”
- Ann-Cabell Baum, daughter of Carolinsa Baum