NC 12 is a North Carolina state highway that traverses the northeastern shoreline of North Carolina, linking the islands of the Outer Banks. It is a popular route for visitors touring the Outer Banks. Most sections of NC 12 are two lanes wide and two segments of the route are connected by ferries.
Beginning at its northern terminus in Corolla, North Carolina
(near the Currituck Beach Lighthouse
), NC 12 (affectionately known as the "Beach Road") travels south along the Bodie Island shoreline through the cities of Duck
, Southern Shores
, Kitty Hawk
, Kill Devil Hills
and Nags Head
before entering the Cape Hatteras National Seashore
. Before crossing over Oregon Inlet
to Pea Island, NC 12 passes by Bodie Island Lighthouse
. Continuing south, the highway crosses onto Hatteras Island, site of the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
. In the town of Hatteras, North Carolina
, vehicles following NC 12 board a free ferry
to Ocracoke Island
, home of the Ocracoke Lighthouse
. In the community of Ocracoke
, NC 12 follows a toll ferry
to Cedar Island
where the route ends at U.S. Highway 70
Attractions along the way
Hatteras Island was actually cut in half on September 18, 2003 by Hurricane Isabel
which opened a new inlet wide and deep through the community of Hatteras Village on the southern end of Hatteras Island. This new inlet was temporarily named the Isabel Inlet
after the hurricane. Road access along NC 12 was temporarily severed until the island was repaired and restored by sand pumped ashore by the Army Corps of Engineers
- 1920s: NC 12 is born as a route from Pollocksville, North Carolina (near New Bern) to the Virginia border, through Kinston, Rich Square, Tarboro, and Murfreesboro.
- 1934: NC 12 north of Kinston was truncated and US 258 took its place.
- 1950s: NC 58 completely took over NC 12's remaining route and NC 12 was decommissioned.
- 1962: A road linking the southern and central Outer Banks communities is paved and designated as NC 12.
- 1963: A bridge across Oregon Inlet is constructed and NC 12 is routed along it. This bridge was built to eliminate the need for ferry service to and from Hatteras Island and to provide a quick hurricane evacuation route.
- 1987: NC 12 is extended north of Nags Head along the Virginia Dare Trail (then Business US 158).
- 1988: NC 12 is extended further to Corolla, its present northern terminus.
- 2003: Hurricane Isabel created the Isabel Inlet, severing NC 12's link to the lower Hatteras Island communities. This segment of shoreline was later filled and the missing NC 12 roadway was rebuilt, this time further from the shore. This is NC 12's current alignment.
- 2007: Subtropical Storm Andrea caused high winds to push waves over dunes and onto the highway on Hatteras Island, leaving water a foot deep and sand 2 to deep in some places.