Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Explore Wildlife from... THE TERRA GATOR!

Come ride the beach transporter, Terra Gator, to False Cape State Park through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge! False Cape State Park is an isolated stretch of wilderness on the southern point of Virginia's coast, between Virginia Beach and the North Carolina boundary.  Until now, the state park was virtually inaccessible in winter except to visitors willing to hike down at least five miles of undeveloped ocean beaches along the edge of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  But this one-of-a-kind beach vehicle can carry visitors down the coast to the 4,321-acre state park, a narrow barrier spit between the Atlantic Ocean and Back Bay.  Terra Gator enables winter visitors to expend their energy exploring the state park rather than hiking to it, said Kyle Barbour, manager of False Cape. The park's ocean-to-freshwater bay habitat includes beaches, dunes, marshes and maritime forests. It is the home of deer, fox, otter, mink, nutria, even wild pigs and horses.
False Cape is closed to automobiles year-round. From April to October, visitors can hike, bike, boat or take electric trams to the state park. Most follow an unpaved road through the interior of the 8,000-acre national wildlife refuge, which is just north of the park. But that road is closed in winter, so humans won't disturb waterfowl wintering in impoundments within the refuge.
In the park, visitors who arrive on Terra Gator have about two hours to admire waterfowl (including snow geese, tundra geese, tundra swans and ducks) in Back Bay or raptors also wintering in False Cape. Others go for walks on the beach. "They can find shells and things not found where everyone is scavenging on a beach every day," said Barbour.

Access has improved since the 36-passenger Terra Gator went into action and is "a big people-mover" said Barbour, with 56-inch tires on 25-inch rims to help it roll down the beaches.  Terra Gator is only operating on Saturdays and Sundays, unless its popularity "really starts to snowball on us" said Barbour. "Then we will extend the schedule. We also will schedule weekday trips for groups."

Barbour said the length of the trip depends on the tide. The vehicle can run faster across packed sand at low tide than it can across loose sand at high tide. He said the upper beach has "camel humps", which must be crossed slowly so passengers don't get sick.  "We do not go into the water, because of corrosion. But it (the vehicle ) is capable of going fairly deep into the water, five or six feet.  It could take wave strikes up to the windows."

False Cape and Back Bay Wildlife Refuge are among the few undeveloped areas along the Atlantic Coast. The wildlife refuge has five miles of beach, and the state park has another six miles of beach below that down to the North Carolina line. Barbour said the area is even more wild than North Carolina's Hatteras Island. It's definitely worth exploring and will open your eyes to why we're referred to as "The Outer Banks of Virginia".  

  • $8 per person
  • $100 for school fieldtrips
  • $160 group rate
  • Minimum 10 riders; maximum 36

Schedule Trip - By Reservation Only
The Terra Gator operates only on weekends from Nov. 1 through March 31. The transporter departs Little Island City Park in Virginia Beach at 9 a.m. and returns there at 1 p.m. The trip takes about 45 minutes each way. Call 1-800-933-7275 (PARK) to make reservations. (Groups may make arrangements for weekdays or other time slots, still only between Nov. 1 and March 31, by contacting the park directly at (757) 426-7128, email falsecape@dcr.virginia.gov.)

Once in False Cape, visitors can spend two hours exploring trails and the natural beach. This unique park - among Virginia's least visited state park - is primitive and has few facilities. It is not recommended for those unaccustomed to strenuous outdoor activities. Soft sand on the trail and beach makes walking difficult.  Cancellation policy: Guests are encouraged to transfer reservations - at no cost - to another date because the cancellation fee per reservation is $10. Transfers must, however, be done by the Wednesday prior to the reserved date. If fewer than 10 riders sign up by Wednesday to reserve spots, the park cancels the trip and full refunds are offered, or guests may opt for a transfer.

Plan a Long Weekend to Enjoy Nature!
If you're coming in from out of town to explore the local wildlife and are in need of lodging, contact the vacation experts at Siebert Realty! We can assist with all your lodging needs... offering fully furnished beach home and condo vacation rentals at beautiful Sandbridge Beach, located just north of Back Bay Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park.  Many rentals have toasty fireplaces and bubbly warm Hot Tubs... perfect for when you return from a day of bonding with nature.  Hope to see you soon!  

Vacation Beach Home & Condos Rentals
Sandbridge Beach, Virginia Beach, VA

No comments:

Blogger Gadgets