Exploring The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in NC

Great white egret in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Donna Campbell Smith Photo: Donna Campbell Smith
Great white egret in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Donna Campbell Smith Photo: Donna Campbell Smith

By Donna Campbell Smith

The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge spans 153,000 acres lying on the mainland portions of Dare and Hyde Counties, North Carolina. It is well worth taking the time to visit this refuge if you enjoy wildlife. I often drive through on my way to the Outer Banks, with camera ready because I never know what I’ll see as I explore the network of gravel roads through what certainly feels like a wilderness.

Black bears are the main attraction for wildlife watchers, and you are very likely to see one. There is a large variety of birds, deer and small mammals, reptiles (including alligators), and lucky visitors may even see a red wolf. In addition to wildlife watching and photography, visitors can also enjoy kayaking and canoeing, fishing and hunting (with permits and in season), geocaching, guided tours and special educational programs.

As part of the habitat management program farmers are permitted to grown crops on parts of the refuge. In exchange for farming on refuge land, the farmers leave a portion of their crop unharvested for use by wildlife. Other management tools include water level control and controlled burning.

Sunflower crop growing in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Donna Campbell Smith
Sunflower crop growing in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Donna Campbell Smith

 

For navigation, the refuge physical address is 100 Conservation Way, Manteo, NC.

The refuge network was established in 1984 to protect and preserve the wetlands of the area and its rich wildlife habitat. The refuge provides environmental education through workshops, guided tours, a variety of exhibits, signs, brochures, and electronic media to communicate natural history stories to visitors. Also, printed and virtual information is available on many topics — including plants and animals, seasonal migrations, habitats, refuge management strategies, and endangered species — at the visitor center and at the point of entry off Highway 64.

Visit the website to plan your trip, as visitor center and facilities restrictions are in place due to coronavirus. Download their brochure (PDF) for more information and history of Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

 

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About Donna Campbell Smith 75 Articles
Donna Campbell Smith, an author based in Franklinton NC, worked in the horse industry for over thirty years as an instructor, trainer, breeder, and writer. She has an AAS Degree in Equine Technology from Martin Community College and is a certified riding instructor. Smith has written four non-fiction books on equine management: The Book of Donkeys, (The Lyons Press 2016) The Book of Miniature Horses (The Lyons Press 2005), The Book of Draft Horses (The Lyons Press 2007), and The Book of Mules (The Lyons Press 2009). All her books are available at Amazon.com or ask for them at a bookstore near you. Donna is a member of Franklin County Arts Council. Visit her website at www.donnacampbellsmith.net.