National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center
Southeast Region
Alligator River - Cedar Island - Currituck - Mattamuskeet - Mackay Island - Pea Island - Pocosin Lakes - Roanoke River - Swanquarter

Gateway VC

  National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center (Coastal NC National Wildlife Refuges Gateway Visitor Center) is free and open to the public! (directions)  

Hours of Operation:  Monday-Saturday 9 am-4 pm and Sunday Noon-4 pm.

We offer 35 acres of relatively wild land to explore, including 4 walking trails ranging from .12 to .66 mile. Download trails map.

The 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 national fish hatchery, offering an invitation to visit them all.

Through interactive exhibits, audio-visual programs, and even a virtual airplane ride, visitors may experience a field trip to each refuge with hopes to entice them to visit these special places.  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 through a short multi-sensory film, when Buffalo City was a bustling logging and moonshining town! In this small theater you will also have an opportunity to watch 2 other nature and area-related films. In the main lobby, try to find 37 critters hiding in the pocosin diorama. Peek into a red wolf den. Have a picture taken of you as a genuine wild lands firefighter! A short interpreted nature trail wanders through the woods behind the center.

The building is LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) 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 by volunteers. Our non-profit friends group, Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society, operates Wild Things, a gift shop that offers innovative wildlife-related gift items such as nature identification guides, children's toys and books, jewelry, apparel and other items to make your visit both enjoyable and memorable. All proceeds benefit refuge programs.

Visitor Center
Entering the visitor center. Photo Credits: USFWS.

Last Updated: 3/25/20