While you're in eastern North Carolina, take some time to drop by the National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center near Manteo. Once you're on Roanoke Island, follow the blue wayfinding signs to find your way to the north end the island to the Lost Colony, Elizabethan Gardens, Ft Raleigh, and the National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center.
The center is free and open to the public seven days a week, year round. This Visitor Center was a long-time dream for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and many refuge and wildlife supporters on the Outer Banks and in eastern North Carolina. It represents eleven national wildlife refuges and one fish hatchery, offering an invitation to visit them all.
Through interactive exhibits, audiovisual programs, and even a virtual airplane ride, visitors may experience a virtual field trip to each of these special places with hopes to entice them to visit the real thing. See how the Outer Banks will change as the sea level rises. Sit for a spell in the old Dare Forest Supply Store and experience life when Buffalo City was a bustling logging and moonshining town! Try to find all 37 of the critters hiding in the pocosin diorama. Peek into a red wolf den. Have a picture taken of yourself as a genuine wildland firefighter!
Made possible through funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the center offers regularly scheduled speaker and film series, children’s programs, after-school events, and more. Currently, a short trail wanders through the woods behind the center. Soon, we hope to add more trails, including a bike path; an educational pavilion, and a series of nature play areas. The site is landscaped using native, low maintenance plants. The building is LEED-certified and energy-efficient, with features including solar panels, low-volume toilets, and a highly energy-efficient heating and cooling system. The center is staffed totally by volunteers. Our non-profit friends group, the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society, operates “Wild Things”, a retail shop that offers innovative wildlife-related gift items, books, and other items to make your visit both enjoyable and memorable. All proceeds benefit refuge programs.