Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

North Carolina

(252) 473-1131

Map Directions

Things To Do


Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge was established on March 14, 1984. It contains 152,195 acres which lie on the mainland portions of Dare and Hyde Counties, North Carolina. The Refuge is roughly 28 miles from north to south and 15 miles from east to west. It is bordered on the west by the Alligator River and the Intracoastal Waterway; on the north by Albemarle Sound; on the east by Croatan and Pamlico Sounds; and on the south by Long Shoal River and corporate farmland.

Alligator River Refuge was established to preserve and protect a unique wetland habitat type - the pocosin - and its associated wildlife species. The diversity of habitat types include high and low pocosin, bogs, fresh and brackish water marshes, hardwood swamps, and Atlantic white cedar swamps. Considered among the last remaining strongholds for black bear in eastern North Carolina and on the mid-Atlantic Coast, the Refuge also provides valuable habitat for concentrations of ducks, geese, and swans; wading birds, shorebirds, American woodcock, raptors, American alligators, white-tailed deer, raccoons, rabbits, quail, river otters, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and migrating songbirds. It serves as the core area for re-establishing the red wolf back into the wild.

Map of Alligator River NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 35.913523, -75.852356



  • Boating

    Perhaps the best way to see the Refuge is by water. Canoes, kayaks, or small motor boats may be launched from the south end of Buffalo City Road. Fifteen miles of color-coded water trails (1,001 K) allow visitors to observe a variety of habitat types. The refuge offers guided canoe tours for a fee. For a current schedule of these tours and other regular programs, visit the calendar of events.

  • Bird Watching

    The park is home to multiple wading birds, shorebirds, American woodcock, red-cockaded woodpeckers and neotropical migrants.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Please contact the main number for more information.

  • Fishing

    All canals, creeks, and lakes on the refuge located in areas open to the public are open to fishing during State seasons. Because fishing is in fresh water, a State Fishing License is required. A universally-accessible fishing platform is located at the trailhead of the Creef Cut Wildlife Trail. Since there is a canal that links this site directly with South Lake, there is a constant supply of crappie, bluegill, and other freshwater fish. A state fishing license is required.

  • Hiking

    Creef Cut Wildlife Trail is a half-mile, universally-accessible trail that's ideal for school groups or families, as well as individuals. A kiosk at the trailhead provides information about the refuge and the habitats and wildlife that occur. Interpretive signs along the trail identify vegetation types or wildlife that may be seen in the area.

    A 200-foot boardwalk takes visitors out onto the freshwater marsh to the north of the trail. On the south, an overlook provides viewing of the Creef Moist Soil management area where waterfowl, raptors, and other migratory birds can be seen.

    Sandy Ridge Wildlife Trail is also a half-mile trail, but takes visitors through very different habitats than Creef Cut Wildlife Trail. This trail consists of an earthen path and 2300 feet of boardwalk through a cypress swamp. The trail is very appropriate for wheelchairs or baby strollers; however, it is not advertised as universally-accessible due to several 1-2 inch steps.

  • Hunting

    The most popular recreational activities on the Refuge are hunting and fishing. Hunting is allowed on most of the Refuge during State seasons and in accordance with Refuge regulations and State regulations. A permit is required to hunt on the Refuge. While white-tail deer is the main species hunted, a variety of small game are also hunted such as squirrels, rabbits, quail, and mourning doves.

Park Partners



Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is located on the mainland of Dare and Hyde Counties, 15 miles west of Manteo, North Carolina. The Refuge Administrative Office is located on Roanoke Island (in Manteo) on U.S. Highway 64. To reach the Refuge, take U.S. Highway 64 west from Manteo, cross the Croatan Sound onto mainland Dare County, and continue west to the Refuge entrance. Signs direct visitors to the Refuge Field Headquarters, Creef Cut Wildlife Trail, and Buffalo City Road. Manteo is serviced by the Norfolk International Airport (2 hour drive north) and Raleigh-Durham International Airport (4 hour drive west). For complete directions from all points, see

Phone Numbers


(252) 473-1131