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Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

3100 Desert Road

The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is the largest intact remnant of a vast habitat that once covered more than one million acres of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. Formal protection of this resource began in 1973, when the Union Camp Corporation (a local forest products company) donated 49,097acres to The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy conveyed the donated land to the federal government, which, combined with additionally purchased land, was used to establish the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in 1974.

The Dismal Swamp Act of 1974 directs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to: “Manage the area for the primary purpose of protecting and preserving a unique and outstanding ecosystem, as well as protecting and perpetuating the diversity of animal and plant life therein. Management of the refuge will be directed to stabilize conditions in as wild a character as possible, consistent with achieving the refuge’s stated objectives.”


Kara Mitchell

Saturday, April 7, 2018
Took my boys here when they were so young. Great memories. Great place to go and see. Pack a picnic basket and enjoy all they have to offer. Kids can play on playground equipment and more! Many scenic areas to hold a photo session too!

Olya Karpetz

Friday, May 25, 2018
It was my first time here, and I must say I was disappointed. Taking a walk on the boardwalks was beautiful, but they were extremely short. Mostly the trails are big and flat and boring. If you live nearby its great to come for a walk, but I drove 2 hrs to visit. The walk to the lake, there was a fire about 7 years ago (I was told) and there are just black tree stubs. Not like the beautiful pictures I have seen online.

Dean Whitehurst

Saturday, May 5, 2018
Awesome place to bike ride which that deserves 5 stars. There are bugs during warm weather. Alligators have also been known to come up from North Carolina on the Virginia side. Nice place to hike and see Lake Drummond. A place to fly a drone.

John Cain

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
I will never forget the look of shear horror upon my wife’s face as the bugs covered our Grand Caravan….She started that good ole “Turn around now…” chant, as we entered deep into the insect infested doom, that was the drive through portion of this tour. Halfway into this trip, we came upon a car that was pulled over to the side. The interesting part about this was the poor husband locked out of his car by his wife and kids, he started looking to me for help…I was about to open my door, when my wife mentioned divorce and murder all in the same breath. I was allowed to toss the poor guy a can of bug spray out of my window as my wife held a blanket up to block the opening. His air filter had clogged with bugs till it stalled his engine. My wife looked worried…But I had read an early account of this place during “Bug-time” and had put an extra filter netting over my intake. I recommend this highly and take this moment to thank that nameless individual for his shared wisdom. The last we saw of him as we drove slowly away, he was dousing himself and spraying his car door…But his wife still had not let him in. I highly recommend this place, the history is rich, what the people living here had to go through to survive, very beautiful scenery, just choose your time of the year to match your interests…Mine was to freak out my wife.

Glenn Watt

Thursday, April 12, 2018
A beautiful and wonderful landscape filled with thousands of untold stories of escaped slaves. Story has it that settlers were frightened of the swamp and what dangers it may have held. But it was also vast area, prior to eventually being logged, that was a way-station and home to people escaping slavery. There are miles of gorgeous walking trails there now and an auto road to Lake Drummond, a wide and shallow lake which is also the second largest lake in Virginia. Filled with wildlife and sights of all kinds, the Great Dismal Swamp is a historic gem and a must-see for nature lovers.

Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media