Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge Travel Guide

  • Along the Paddle Trail
    Along the Paddle Trail
    by jmpncsu
  • Cypress Tree on Milltail Creek
    Cypress Tree on Milltail Creek
    by jmpncsu
  • Sawyer Lake
    Sawyer Lake
    by jmpncsu

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge Things to Do

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    by jmpncsu Written Jan 5, 2014

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    We did an Alligator River kayak tour on Milltail Creek with Kitty Hawk Kites and had a great time. We did it in the winter when the bugs were dead; I imagine it could get pretty bad for mosquitoes in the warmer months. My wife and I were the only ones on the tour besides our guide, Tyler. He was a fantastic tour guide. He was really knowledgeable about the history and nature of the area, as well about kayaks. We were looking to purchase kayaks and Tyler gave us a lot of useful advice and information. The boat access is at the end of Buffalo City Road off US-64 in the refuge. The "city" in the name was funny, because it seemed so remote along this gravel road that nothing could be further from a city. It turns out that Buffalo City, a logging town that used to be along the road, was once the biggest city in Dare County. As the logging industry died off, moonshine production started up and there are rumors that hidden shipments still lie under the swamp. The paddle route followed Milltail Creek and made a loop, for a total distance of around 3 miles. It's a very leisurely paddle.

    Along the Paddle Trail Cypress Tree on Milltail Creek Sawyer Lake
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    • Kayaking
    • National/State Park

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    by grandmaR Updated Dec 22, 2003

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    Because I feel so guilty about using this location for the marina tip and travelogues, I did a little research to determine where the refuge actually is. Apparently it is on the east side of the Alligator (the marina is across the river on the west side). Much of it is accessible only by water (the area at the headwaters of the river), but there is one handicapped accessible trail.

    Are there actual alligators there?

    The website says:

    "Many species of wildlife call Alligator River home. The Refuge and it's surrounding waters support many resident and migratory species of wildlife. Of these, 48 are fish, 200 are birds, 48 are reptiles and amphibians, and 40 are mammals. The Refuge supports wildlife species which are important from both a regional and a national standpoint. Its large size and dense vegetation make the Refuge a haven for species which avoid man, such as the black bear. Also, the Refuge harbors many species adapted to living in forested habitat, as opposed to disturbed areas, such as field edges. Many neotropical migrants, such as prothonotary warblers, black-throated green warblers, prairie warblers, Swainson's warblers, worm-eating warblers, and red-eyed vireos, nest in the thick pocosin vegetation. Wood ducks, barred owls, and other cavity nesters seek the old trees found in this large expansive forested area."

    There may be alligators or there may have been alligators in the river but I suspect they are relatively rare.

    Map of the refuge
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    • National/State Park
    • Birdwatching
    • Kayaking

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  • Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge Hotels

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Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge Restaurants

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    by grandmaR Updated Dec 22, 2003

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    My son the trucker said a real truck stop would have dinners from $4 to 7 (which they pretty much did.) The menu was limited but the food was good, and the promised riverfront dining actually did have tables that looked out toward the bridge so we could watch the river, and also the people coming in to the marina. Some of the docking maneuvers provided a lot of amusement for us.

    For my birthday (Nov 2003), I had the prime rib dinner special with 2 sides (applesauce and creamed potatoes which turned out to be creamy mashed potatoes - real potatoes and not flakes) and a roll for $10.99 (ordinary price is $11.99) and my husband Bob had the shrimp special for $9.99 (ordinarily $10.99). Bob said the shrimp were small, but I was happy with my prime rib. They also sell souveniers and real ice cream for cones. I got one for afters.

    Favorite Dish: The grille serves breakfast and lunch, and the grille cook is on duty until about 6 (so you have to eat dinner early). Sometimes the cook is a little grumpy.

    You order, and go sit down and he brings your food out to you. Don't get the BBQ unless you like the NC vinegar based BBQ. I don't, and I keep forgetting that.

    Lucette had a fried oyster sandwich while we watched the weather channel. Dinner for the two of us was $15, and I got ice cream which was $1.52.

    On the way back, two dinners one of which was a rib eye dinner with 2 vegetables and corn sticks for $10.99 came to $23.28 including tip.

    Menu and table decoration Menu Menu Wine list Table decoration and napkin
    Related to:
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Road Trip
    • Budget Travel

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Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge Sports & Outdoors

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    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    34 transient slips, fixed docks with finger piers. Accepts reservations, VISA/MC, Discover and Texaco. Pets welcome - dog walking area. Dockage is $1/ft/day with $4.00/day for 30 amp electric. There is free cable, but very few channels.

    Equipment: The boaters lounge has 4 toilets and showers (watch out the lights are on a timer - if you don't give yourself enough time the lights will go out when you are in the shower and there are NO WINDOWS in there).

    There are also washers and dryers - cold water only. Pay phones are available and you can hook a laptop up to the internet provided you have an 800# you can use as there are no local numbers.

    Ice and propane are also for sale, and there is trash disposal, a launch ramp, grills, picnic area. It is one of the cheapest fuel stations on the ICW. The truck stop has food, and if there are enough people at the marina that want dinner, they will open the dining room.

    Marina at sunset RosalieAnn at the fuel dock Approaching the fuel dock spring 2003 Bob in Capn Charlie's Restaurant Table decoration and wine menu
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    by grandmaR Updated Jan 17, 2004

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    We have not anchored here, but there is another anchorage a bit farther along off Bear Point inside R46, and off Tuckahoe Point. This is where several of the other boats that traveled down from Elizabeth City anchored. One of them had a dog that had to go ashore to pee, and there isn't really any shore here. He was very unhappy.

    I preferred the mm 102 anchorage because I was uncomfortable anchoring so close to the head of the canal where barges would have to readjust their loads and turn the corner.

    Both of these anchorages would be in or contiguous to the Alligator Swamp Refuge.

    Equipment: Snags have been reported - use a trip line.

    Chart with anchorage marked
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    by grandmaR Written Jan 17, 2004

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    On our first trip down, we anchored at mile marker 102 NE of Deep Point G43 in 7-8' of water. We came in late, and did not realize that the symbol on the chart was a mooring ball. We were anchored VERY close to the mooring. There was a bright full moon which shown down the companionway into my face.

    On a subsequent trip (when they closed the canal to take down the old Fairfield Swing bridge) we saw a tug and tow on the mooring.

    This time, Hurricane Isabel had apparently taken the mooring ball and washed it up on Deep Point.

    Equipment: This is a fairly protected anchorage and holding is good. There is nothing here and no place to land.

    Deep Point with mooring ball on shore
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Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge Favorites

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    by grandmaR Updated Dec 22, 2003

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    Favorite thing: One of the highways going to the Outer Banks crosses the Alligator River on a Swing Bridge. At the western end of the bridge is a gas station/ souvenier /truck stop kind of place which is ALSO a marina. It's one of the cheapest docks on the ICW and also the fuel is a decent price.

    My son the ex-truck driver said if it was a real truck stop, it should have substantial food priced under $5-7, and this place does. Not fancy, but reasonably good. They also have real ice cream.

    Fondest memory: Sitting at a table in the restaurant section by the window and alternately watching the weather channel on the TV (the cable at the dock doesn't have the weather channel), and watching people struggling to get their boats into the fuel dock against the wind. Very entertaining as long as it isn't you doing it.

    One guy in a small trawler with two engines AND bow thrusters couldn't turn around (to be fair against a stiff wind) to get fuel and was stuck across the channel keeping a catamaran sailboat from getting in. I thought for sure there's be a collision

    Alligator River bridge Ocracoke Light table decoration Marina lighthouse sign at night Marina lighthouse sign during the day Heading for the diesel dock
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    • Budget Travel
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Road Trip

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