“USA 🇺🇸 ~The Outer Banks in North Carolina; Shackleford Lookout Cape, Wild Horses and More!”
An adventure for a family of seven, that is great fun for all ages, was taking a ferry to Lookout Cape in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to see the Wild Spanish Horses!
Chelsie and I, especially, were super excited about this outing. We’ve both wanted to experience this for quite some time! We knew everybody else would have fun, too. We were so inspired, after our fun day, we all watched the movie “Nights in Roanthe” on TV after the kiddos went to bed. The movie was filmed in the Outer Banks and wild horses were involved.
Seeing, and being so close to the Wild Horses in real life was quite special for all of us. We had the best day on the Island. The kiddos did great with all the hiking around, too. The sea shell collecting was super successful, too!
Cape Lookout National Seashore preserves a 56-mile long section of the Southern Outer Banks, or Crystal Coast, of North Carolina, USA 🇺🇸, running from Ocracoke Inlet on the northeast to Beaufort Inlet on the southeast.
The Outer Banks are one of the South’s greatest treasures. The 200-mile stretch of skinny barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina are known for their secluded feeling, the small communities that inhabit the islands, beautiful beaches, and of course, the wild horses.
Several herds of wild horses, totaling around 400, live throughout the barrier islands and have become a sought-after tourist attraction in their own right.
They can be seen strolling along the beaches and amoung the grassy dunes of the inland island, of Cape Lookout, near Beaufort, Ocracoke, and Corolla.
Part of the allure of the wild horses is that they’ve lived there for nearly 500 years. This is longer than any human resident, and they have survived hurricanes along with human settlers, alike. Another part of their allure is the mystery of their presence in the first place:
Just how did a herd of wild horses end up on these isolated island?
To help understand the origins of the horses, which still live in the Outer Banks, one must go back in history, or conjure up memories from middle school history class, because despite our close connection to the animals and the important role they’ve played in our United States history, the horses we know aren’t native to North America at all. They were, instead, brought over by Spanish explorers during the Colonial era, which is the case for the horses in the Outer Banks as well.
And, while the herds are technically wild now, they are direct descendants of domesticated horses which were brought to the area sometime in the 1500s, and left behind; either by choice or by accident. These are definitely Spanish Mustangs.
Two prominent explorers: a Spaniard named Lucas Vasquez de Allyon and an Englishman named Richard Greenville, both have records of being in the area at different times; both with livestock in their possession. Allyon was attempting to settle areas along the coastline, but the Spaniards’ intrusion led to conflicts with local Native Americans, and there are records that show the settlers were forced to flee, leaving their horses behind.
Greenville was an English commander, who regularly captained British ships, carrying traded goods (including Spanish mustangs) between the West Indies, early/fledging English colonies in Virginia, and Great Britain. Records show a ship in Greenville’s fleet in the 1580s was caught in the infamous shallow waters near the Outer Banks and wrecked, leaving the horses onboard to swim to shore. Horses are excellent swimmers, luckily, for their survival at that time. The cows, chickens and pigs, mostly succumbed to another fate; including sharks.
The wild horses that have made the Outer Banks home are a true treasure, protected by the National Park Service, the state of North Carolina, and private funds and sanctuaries that ensure they will remain just that for generations to come.
Unlike other Outer Bank Wild Horses, Shacklefords’ Wild Horses have not been exposed to any other breeds of domesticated horses, making these horses purebred blood lined Spanish Mustangs.
We were told by our guide, even Spain no longer have these original purebreds any longer.
The Cape Lookout National Seashore is well known for its isolated beaches and great shells, and the Cape Lookout Lighthouse is a just stroll away from the local ocean-facing shoreline.
Cape Lookout National Seashore protects a 56-mile stretch of barrier islands on the North Carolina coast. These undeveloped beaches provide vital nesting grounds for sea turtles and shorebirds and a herd of wild horses (a herd of around 125) roam free on Shackleford Banks.
The Cape Lookout lighthouse and two historic villages offer a glimpse into the lives of people who made their living on the edge of the sea.
The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is the southernmost lighthouse on the Outer Banks, and is also one of the most distinctive of the Outer Banks lighthouses, due to its black and white diamond pattern. The Cape Lookout Lighthouse, built in 1859, is 163’ feet tall. It’s also well known as one of the most difficult to get to, simply because of its location along the Cape Lookout National Seashore, which is only accessible by personal watercraft or ferry.
Aside from the Wild Horses, these parts of the Outer Banks are know as the best sea shell combing beaches in all of North Carolina! How cool is that?
Cape Lookout Lighthouse is also off in the distance. It’s very scenic while searching for shells. We found plenty of shells, but the pickings will be much better after the winter storms hit and churns out new finds, vs the broken and sun bleached parcels from last winter. Shackleford, specifically, is also well known as one of the best shelling destinations on all of the East Coast!
Among other things, you can find conchs, whelks, queen’s helmets, scotch bonnets, olive shells, sand dollars, and more.
Broken Conch and complete Olive Shell
I was quite excited about this find. Fossilized feathers have been found, belonging to dinosaurs. From a distance, I thought it was seagull poop on a rock, but it can not be worn off.
What do you think?
“Among the other things” for us, on this day, was finding the shedded shell of a Horseshoe Crab. This species of Crab is actually older than the dinosaur. They have survived that long!
Horseshoe crabs have been around for more than 300 million years, making them even older than dinosaurs. They look like prehistoric crabs, but are actually more closely related to scorpions and spiders. The horseshoe crab has a hard exoskeleton and 10 legs, which it uses for walking along the seafloor. The body of the horseshoe crab is divided into three sections. The first section is the prosoma, or head. The name “horseshoe crab” originates from the rounded shape of the head, because just like the shoe on a horse’s foot.
From Beaufort, NC, we rode a 30-min Ferry to the Island of Shakleford Banks ⬆️
We’ve had very good weather, while in North Carolina, so it was not unusual for us to load up the kiddos and hop in the van for some fun. I showed Chelsie how to seek out adventure, and she is now teacher her children! I’m super proud.
Love Me some Grandchildren
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Archive Blog Posts of Our Country Visits
- “USA ~From Florence, and Casa Grande, Arizona Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”
- “USA ~The Tri-States; Including Oatman The Living Ghost Town, Arizona”
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~We Made It Back to California and Gone Again, Already!”
- “Intermittent Fasting in Our Senior Years”
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~Albuquerque, New Mexico Old Town, More Route 66 and Arizona!”
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~Getting Our KIX on ROUTE 66! Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico”
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~Memphis, Tennessee; Graceland and More!”
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~Charlotte, North Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina and Tiny Too”
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~The Outer Banks in North Carolina; Shackleford Lookout Cape, Wild Horses and More!”
- “USA 🇺🇸 ~Jacksonville, North Carolina Onslow (private) Beach Camp LeJeune Marine Base and More”
Hello and Welcome to our Travel Blog Website, We are into our fourth year of our full-time Gypsy Lifestyle; buying one-way tickets to circumvent the globe. We enjoy writing about our experiences and taking photos of our adventuring along the… Read More