Roanoke Island’s newest attraction is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s brand-new LEED–certified visitor center on the north end of Roanoke Island near the entrance to Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. The National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center provides information on the 11 National Wildlife Refuges and one National Fish Hatchery in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia and helps visitors plan adventures to some of these wild places. The mission of the center is to show people about the regional National Wildlife Refuges so they’ll be comfortable visiting them. And once you’ve been here, you’ll be itching to get outdoors and explore not only the refuges on the Outer Banks but also those close by.
The facility includes numerous high-quality, interactive exhibits and dioramas that depict what goes on in the regional National Wildlife Refuge. Experience realistic dioramas of waterfowl, red wolves, black bears and other animals. Enjoy movies about the history of the National Wildlife Refuge system and local history. Discover natural history on touch screens and through hands-on exhibits. The most popular exhibit is an airplane that you can “fly” over each of the regional refuges. The aerial photography in that exhibit is astounding!
The National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center has a 130-seat auditorium and educational classroom. Information on the many refuge programs -- Wolf Howlings, Bear Necessities, Bees, Bats & Butterflies, bird walks, canoe trips and open-air tram tours, to name a few -- can be obtained here too. The gift shop is well-stocked with nature-themed gifts, toys, books, posters, artwork, jewelry and educational materials. Admission is free. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The site is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.