2022 is third busiest year for OBX national parks, but visits drop from 2021

By on January 30, 2023

Although combined 2022 visitation to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and the Wright Brothers National Memorial was down about 10% from the record-breaking 2021 totals, it still marked the third-highest recorded total, according to the National Park Service.

For all three parks in 2022, there were a combined 3,596,825 visits—including 2,862,844 at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, 437,331 at the Wright Brothers Memorial and 296,650 at Fort Raleigh.

The overall record-setting 2021 total was 3,981,857 visits. The second-highest total of visits was in 2002, at 3,643,196. One theory that might help explain the big numbers in 2021 and 2002 is the COVID pandemic that emerged in March 2020 and the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Both traumatic and galvanizing events sent many people opting for shorter car rides rather than longer plane trips, perhaps making the Outer Banks a more inviting visitor venue.

On an individual park basis, the roughly 2.9 million visits to the National Seashore in 2022 were down from about 3.2 million in 2021. The roughly 437,000 visits in 2022 to the Wright Brothers Memorial were down from about 482,000 in 2001. The number of 2022 Fort Raleigh visits, about 297,000, was up slightly from the 293,000 in 2021.


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