As summer hits the Crystal Coast, the Cape Lookout Lighthouse proves a beacon for visitors looking to get a bird’s-eye view of Core Banks.
The lighthouse opened for climbing last month and remains a popular attraction for those who make the 207 steps to the top.
The lighthouse has seen some damage to the outside from sand scouring, most recently during Hurricane Sandy in October, but is safe to climb and ready for visitors for another season.
The only change for visitors planning to climb is in the system for getting tickets. Due to cuts in funding, there will not be a seasonal position available to handle reservations.
"Part of the sequestration we had to eliminate certain positions," park official Wouter Ketel said.
This season, tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.
The lighthouse will be open for climbing four days a week — Wednesday through Saturday — through Sept. 21. Climbs begin every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., with a limit of 10 people per tour.
The seashore will announce on Twitter (twitter.com/CapeLookoutNPS) or Facebook (facebook.com/CapeLookoutNPS) when tickets have sold out or when weather-related closures occur.
Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for children 12 or younger, seniors 62 or older, and those holding a National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Access Pass. They can be purchased from 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at the Light Station Visitor Center next to the lighthouse. Each ticket is good only for the time and date stamped on it.
Due to safety guidelines, children must be at least 44 inches tall, and only four groups of 10 people may enter the lighthouse per hour.
Visitors planning to make the trip to the top are reminded that the climb is a strenuous one and the tower may be hot, humid, noisy and dim inside. The climb to the gallery is the equivalent of climbing a 12-story building. The stairs are narrow and groups are going up and down them at the same time.
Visitors with heart, respiratory, or other medical conditions — or those who have trouble climbing stairs — should probably not attempt the climb. Visitors who cannot make the climb can still get a gallery perspective from the four outside View from the Top exhibits located near the lighthouse Keepers’ Quarters; the panorama located in the Keepers’ Quarters Museum; and the onlinepanoramas on the website at nps.gov/calo.