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“Great Dismal Swamp” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Ranked #3 of 19 things to do in Suffolk
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Attraction details
Owner description: A swampy region where visitors can go birding and view wildlife up close.
Richmond, Virginia
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Great Dismal Swamp”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 August 2014

We very much enjoyed the Great Dismal Swamp. We started by parking off of old Rt. 17 near the Feeder Ditch to the Great Dismal Swamp Canal. This is a dead end road. There was plenty of parking off the road and some trash cans. (There are no bathroom facilities.) There is a small dock to put in your boat. There was about a 3 foot drop so if you have a heavy boat with supplies, it could get tricky. (There is a new park up the road with a boat launch, but will require extra paddling to get to Lake Drummond.) We put in around 4:30pm. The water was super warm and the sky was beautiful. Only issue was that the sun was completely in our eyes. We had to paddle on the sides of the feeder ditch to be able to see. It is about a 5 mile paddle to the camping spot. It took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes to get there. We did stop and check things out, but we were cruising most of the time. Bring a good camera or some way to keep your phone from getting wet. You will take lots of pictures. Probably 30 minutes into our paddle, we saw a mamma black bear and her cub swimming across the feeder ditch. They just swam and hustled out on the other side, but they were pretty close.

The campsite was great to see because we had been paddling for a long time. Go around to the left side of the island. There will be some docks that you can tie up to. You can also go a little further and just slide up onto the hill. The island had working mens/womens bathrooms, electricity, and screened in porches to get away from the bugs. There was no person on duty but I think maybe on the weekends there is someone. The bathrooms were simple, but clean. They have water but not for drinking. You must bring all of your water with you. They have lights all over the island that you can turn on or keep off. The island can support quite a few campers. It may get super busy at times. When we were there, there was only one other man with his 3 children. There is a giant field with a pit toilet on the other side of the feeder ditch for camping as well. The screened porches are simple huts with a picnic table inside. There was a line that we used to hang clothes.

After getting our tent up, we hopped back in our boat/paddle board and paddled another 1/2 mile to Lake Drummond. We were chasing the setting sun. If we had been there 30 minutes earlier, it probably would have been even more spectacular. But what we got was very nice too. Paddling in, you are going west following the sun. The lake was super calm and made everything reflective. The color of the sky mixed with the water, made it magical. We stayed out in the lake until after dark, taking pictures. It was stunning. We had to use our headlamps to paddle back to camp. Be sure to keep an eye on where you are. It is very easy to not see the entrance to the feeder ditch. There is a yellow sign nailed to a tree as a marker.

In the morning, we paddled back out to the lake to explore. The weather was beautiful again and the lake was glassy. The trees had a perfect reflection in the water. My husband paddle boarded across the lake and I played in the trees along the shore. The green colors everywhere were simply stunning.

In the afternoon, the wind started to pick up and started to make small ripples on the water. You have to check the weather for the lake. If there are high winds, the lake can get really choppy.

The paddle back out was long, but nice and quiet. The bugs were not bad. We did use bug spray. I never got bit but my husband who was paddle boarding, had to kill about 12 biting flies. He says they were manageable. But be aware that you are in a swamp and the insects are going to be there.

We were not expecting the swamp to be as spectacular as it was. This is certainly a place to go and check out. Remember to bring all of your food, water, and bug spray.

Visited August 2014
10 Thank bethany404
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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73 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Warsaw, Virginia
Level Contributor
105 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“For the Nature Enthusiast!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 June 2014

If you are into the Great outdoors and want a piece of History to go along with it, Bring your camera and stay all day !..Be prepared to Walk, see nature and fall in love with this place.
In the Summer months, bring your Bug Spray and plenty of cold bottled water.I loved this place and you will too!

Visited June 2014
2 Thank Jane S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Castle Rock, Colorado
Level Contributor
229 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“Beautiful spring day at the swamp”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 June 2014

My husband and I went on a nonhumid spring day and it was late spring with cottonwoods snowing and dragonflies everywhere. The boardwalk was nice to stroll on and then we hiked a bit long the Washington Ditch. Only saw one other person!

Visited June 2014
2 Thank Lisa S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Level Contributor
138 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“Not as great as i thought it would be. ”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 June 2014 via mobile

I was excited to walk through and learn about the swamp ecosystem and biodiversity and such, but this wildlife refuge didn't have much. There are a few trails and literature, but we burned through it pretty quick and then there wasn't much to do. Its still worth a visit you learn a few things, but don't plan on a full day unless you have a boat and plan to fish.

2 Thank tobycc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
168 reviews
68 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 78 helpful votes
“Lake Drummond”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 June 2014

If you go, you have to be sure that the driving route to Lake Drummond is open (or be able to take watercraft or a really long hike) as that part of the park is stunning and unique. Good place for solitary walk, or biking along the dikes on any of the other entrances.

Visited March 2014
4 Thank 112PCS112
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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