Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge conserves a rare type of wetland habitat, known as "pocosin," derived from a Native American word meaning "swamp on a hill." The refuge encompasses vast acres of natural wetlands, including the unique southeastern pocosin peat wetlands, open water on Pungo and New Lakes, upland pine forests, and managed moist-soil and agricultural units that provide high-energy food for waterfowl. More than a hundred thousand ducks, geese, and swans congregate on the refuge in winter, and the refuge supports one of the densest populations of black bear ever reported. The refuge is the site of one of the country’s largest wetland restoration projects, restoring natural hydrology to the pocosin peatlands.
Road Condition Updates

The majority of the public use roads on the Pungo Unit are open for vehicles weighing 8,000 pounds or less. Almost all refuge roads, especially those on the Pungo Unit, are dirt and may be muddy during periods of wet weather. Please check the weather and use caution when roads are wet. For road condition updates and current closures, please call 252-796-3004, extension 225, or click the button below.

Current Road Closures

A complex map showing Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge roads, open and closed areas, and hunting access. For accessibility, please call 252-796-3004.
Please obey all posted signs. For questions or the latest updates on closures, please contact the refuge at 252-796-3004.

Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge provides numerous recreation opportunities to visitors every year, whether driving, boating, biking, or hiking. Stop by the Walter B. Jones, Sr. Center for the Sounds in Columbia to explore the interactive displays and take a stroll along the Scuppernong River Boardwalk—sunsets over the Scuppernong are a must-see! Head to the Pungo Unit to see black bear, winter waterfowl, and other wildlife. Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge offers excellent wildlife photography opportunities, especially in early mornings and late afternoons, when wildlife is most active and lighting can be spectacular. Visitors can enjoy wildlife viewing and photography, birding, hunting, fishing, hiking, and biking.

Refuge Map

Things to Do
  • Stop by the Walter B. Jones, Sr. Center for the Sounds in Columbia to explore the interactive displays.
  • Slow down and immerse yourself in nature with a stroll along the Scuppernong River Boardwalk--look closely for turtles, flowers, and other wildlife!
  • Join in on a Red Wolf Program at the Red Wolf Center to learn about the history, biology, and management of red wolves and have a chance of seeing captive red wolves! 
  • Tour the Pungo Unit for a chance of seeing black bear, wintering waterfowl, and other wildlife. The dawn and dusk winter roosts of thousands of swans and geese are a must-see!
  • Learn about endangered red wolves, join a guided waterfowl tour, or explore other topics through interpretive programs and special events!
  • Hunting and fishing are allowed on the refuge with restrictions.

Location and Contact Information

      What We Do

      Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
      A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

      Learn more about national wildlife refuge
      is established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species. 

      Habitat management at Pocosin Lakes NWR is greatly influenced by fire and water. The refuge’s water management keeps the peat soils moist, protecting them from destructive wildfire and restoring natural biochemical processes in the wetland. Pocosins are a fire-adapted ecosystem. Many plant communities found in pocosin wetlands require fire to persist in healthy conditions. Prescribed fire reduces the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires, releases nutrients back into the soil, removes undesirable vegetation, and stimulates growth of early successional plants that are eaten by a variety of wildlife. In addition, the cooperative farming program on the refuge allows local farmers to farm on refuge lands in exchange for leaving a portion of the crop as high-energy food for waterfowl and other wildlife.

      Our Species

      Our Library

      Closed areas are subject to change; please obey all posted signage. For questions or the latest updates, contact the refuge at 252-796-3004.

      Pocosin Lakes NWR Interpretive Programs Schedule

      Pocosin Lakes NWR is excited to announce regular weekly programs to share the refuge's fascinating wildlife with visitors. Come to the Red Wolf Center to learn about these endangered wolves and visit a pair of live wolves. Or, see nature in a new way through special programs with Pocosin Arts or...

      Projects and Research