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The two RV Gypsies at Dismal Swamp State Park
2294 U.S. 17 N.
South Mills, NC 27976
June 25, 2020

Dismal Swamp State Park features 20 miles of trails, beyond the 2,000-foot boardwalk, Birding and viewing abundant wildlife are favored activities. Mountain biking on the trails and kayaking the adjacent Dismal Swamp Canal are both encouraged. Visitors may bring their own equipment or rent at the park. Regular interpretive programs about the wetlands ecology and history of the famed swamp complement museum-quality exhibits in the visitor center. (The Visitor Center was closed on this date due to the Coronavirus).

The park covers 14,432 acres of protected land on the North Carolina/Virginia border. Park offices are 3 miles south of the border on U.S. Route 17 near South Mills. Features of the park include the canal which is used regularly by boaters using the Intracoastal Waterway and several miles of hiking and biking trails. Lake Drummond is the center of activity in the swamp today, attracting fishermen, sightseers, and boaters. Camping is not allowed on the refuge.

USA map showing location of North CarolinaNorth Carolina map showing locaion of Dismal Swamp
Camden County water tower Dismal Swamp Visitor Center sign

historyDismal Swamp State Park allows a unique wilderness experience in a landscape that has been witness to American Indian hunting parties, exploration by George Washington and the story of the Underground Railroad. The park was called "dismal" because that was a common term at the time for a swamp or morass. William Byrd II, an 18th century planter, is credited with giving the swamp its name on maps during his 1728 expedition to survey the border line between Virginia and North Carolina.

Dismal Swamp State Park is a North Carolina state park in Camden County, North Carolina. The park was created as a state natural area in 1974 with the help of The Nature Conservancy, and on July 28, 2007, the North Carolina General Assembly re-designated it as a state park.

It opened to the public in 2008. This marked the first time that public access to Great Dismal Swamp was made possible in North Carolina.

Dismal Swamp State Park sign Dismal Swamp State Park visitor center
the black waters at Dismal Swamp State Park the black waters at Dismal Swamp State Park

Believe it or not you probably can drink the water, although the two RV Gypsies do not recommend it because there is plenty of fresh water stops with colder and fresher alternatives.

Still, one of the Great Dismal Swamp’s wonders is that the water is incredibly clean, despite it’s unsavory color, at least according to Dismal Swamp Canal Visitor’s Center. "The amber-colored water is preserved by tannic acids from the bark of the juniper, gum and cypress trees, prohibiting growth of bacteria. Before the days of refrigeration, water from the Swamp was a highly prized commodity on sailing ships. It was put in kegs and would stay fresh a long time. People spoke of the magical qualities of the Swamp’s tea-colored water and how, if it were regularly drunk, it prevented illness and promoted long life."

Lee Duquette at Dismal Swamp State Park Karen Duquette at Dismal Swamp State Park
the black waters at Dismal Swamp State Park the black waters at Dismal Swamp State Park
the black waters at Dismal Swamp State Park the black waters at Dismal Swamp State Park
gate office Dismal Swamp State Park
tick sign
kids sign kids trail sign
sign about vines
sign about toads and frogs

The two RV Gypsies hiked on the 2.25 mile long boardwalk through a quiet, grassy swamp, where a few cypress and cedar trees grow. There are several other trails in the park. Depending upon the path and the time of year, wildlife including the different frogs and toads shown in the above photo, plus Black bear, turkey, bobcat, butterflies and birds might be seen. The two RV Gypsies did not spot any wildlife on this date, but they could hear a lot of frogs and toads as they hiked the boardwalk.

boardwalk at Dismal Swamp
view from the trail at Dismal Swamp State Park view from the trail at Dismal Swamp State Park
view from the trail at Dismal Swamp State Park view from the trail at Dismal Swamp State Park
sign about butterflies
sign about Black Bears

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go to the next adventure of the two RV Gypsies Continue on with the 2020 travels to Edenton, NC, The Roanoke River Lighthouse, a Memorial Park, famous buildings, NC's oldest house, and more.


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