Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region

Welcome to Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge


Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula in Hyde County, North Carolina. Established in 1934, the 50,180-acre Refuge consists of open water, marsh, forest and croplands. The centerpiece of the Refuge is the shallow Lake Mattamuskeet. At 40,100 acres, it is North Carolina’s largest natural lake.

The Refuge’s strategic location along the Atlantic Flyway makes it a vitally important stopover for wintering waterfowl. Over the past 35 years, up to 80 percent of the Northern Pintail and up to 30 percent of Green-wing Teal that annually migrate along the Flyway utilize Mattamuskeet. In total, the Refuge attracts more than 200,000 ducks, geese and swans from November through February.

About 58,000 visitors use the Refuge annually to hunt, fish, and observe and photograph wildlife.

View photos of the wildlife and habitats of Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge on our Flickr


Latest News


Refuge History

In the early 20th century, farmers and developers attempted to drain Lake Mattamuskeet, building the world’s largest pumping plant at the time. The lake was drained for certain periods to convert the lake bottom to farmland. Eventually, the effort was abandoned as impractical and too expensive.

After the U.S. Government acquired the land in 1934 to establish the Refuge, the Civilian Conservation Corps converted the former pumping plant into a hunting lodge that was operated until 1974. The Mattamuskeet Lodge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and it was transferred to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in 2007.


Management Tools

  • Water management for waterfowl, shorebirds and fisheries.
  • Cooperative farming.
  • Prescribed fire.
  • Mechanical/chemical control of noxious plants.
  • Deer management with public hunting.
  • Public education and environmental interpretation (tours, exhibits, etc.)
  • Law enforcement.
  • Partnerships.



Swan Days-save the date
Click here for more information on Swan Days 2014
. Photo: Tundra swans by Jeff Lewis.


Countless waterfowl fill the sky and sit on the lake

A mixed flock making use of the Refuge. Photo: Allie Stewart, USFWS. View/download on Flickr.


A beautiful orange and yellow sunset over the lake

A beautiful sunset over Lake Mattamuskeet. Photo: Allie Stewart, USFWS. View/download on Flickr.


A tricolored heron hunting for food in the water.

A tricolored heron in the lake. Photo: Allie Stewart, USFWS. View/download on Flickr.


A tricolored heron hunting for food in the water.

The VCS sign covered in snow - February 7, 2014. Photo: Pete Campbell, USFWS.

Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge
85 Mattamuskeet Road
Swan Quarter, NC 27885
(252) 926-4021 FAX: (252) 926-1743

Last Updated: 12/9/14