In our opinion, Virginia has some of the most beautiful nature on the East Coast. While much of this area has been taken over by civilization, the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge remains an untouched section of swampland in the Coastal Plain Region of Virginia and North Carolina. It’s estimated that the original swamp was a massive one million acres. Our Virginia adoption agents love visiting here with our families to feel closer to nature. Some activities you can enjoy here include:
Hiking, Biking, and Auto Tour
You have your choice for how you experience the refuge. There are over 80 miles of trails which are open for hiking and biking. We think this is the best way to take everything in, as you’re moving slowly and up close with nature. However, you can also enjoy a drive along the Auto Tour route, which offers beautiful views as well. Whichever route you choose, you’re sure to be blown away by the natural beauty of the Great Dismal Swamp.
Wildlife Viewing & Photography
If you love wildlife, you’ll be in for a treat at the Great Dismal Swamp. This refuge is overflowing with a variety of different wildlife calling the swamp their home. This includes bears, coyotes, deer, river otters, and more. There are also over 200 bird species in the swamp, making it a prime location for passionate birdwatchers. Additionally, there are over 80 butterfly species in the swamp, which brighten up the trails during the summer. Simply enjoy getting a look at the wildlife or bring your camera for some once-in-a-lifetime shots.
Environmental Education Programs
In order to protect the environment, public education is key. The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge runs different educational programs to help inform the community of the importance of conservation. These programs include:
- The Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival is held the third weekend in April each year. This 3-day event includes guided birding walks, boat tours, bus tours, workshops, and family-friendly activities.
- Various programs and activities are scheduled seasonally. More info can be found at the refuge’s website.
- Educational presentations both on and off the refuge.
- School field trips
- Field resources available for loan, including binoculars, nets, sampling trays, mammal skull and track sets, field guides, and reference books.
Boating & Fishing
You can enjoy boating and fishing year-round on Lake Drummond. Just make sure you have a permit and pay the required fee. We love relaxing on the weekend with some lazy fishing at Lake Drummond in the wildlife refuge.
The refuge has a hunting program strictly for White Tail Deer and American Black Bears. As long as you get a Refuge Hunt license from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ Hunter Registration website, you’re free to hunt these two creatures at the refuge. However, only the first 100 hunters to register and pay for the refuge bear hunt license will be issued a license. Registrations begin July 1 each year, so if you’re interested, we recommend signing up as soon as possible.