FORT MACON STATE PARK
Fort Macon offers public access to the surf, sun and sand of the Crystal Coast - as well as a historic landmark. Located at the eastern end of Bogue Banks, one of a series of barrier islands along the North Carolina coast, the park is surrounded on three sides by water - the Atlantic Ocean, Beaufort Inlet and Bogue Sound. This area of undisturbed natural beauty is the perfect place to explore salt marshes and estuaries vital to the coastal ecosystem.
The park is also home to a Civil War fort with a history as intricate and unique as the waterways of the sound. Visit Fort Macon to enjoy the land's natural beauty and soak up some history.
While most visitors to Fort Macon spend their time at the fort or relaxing on the beach, the park is also an excellent introduction to the varied and abundant plant and animal life of the North Carolina coast.
Explore the base of the jetty at low tide or walk the beach in search of mollusk shells washed ashore by a storm. Sea urchins, sea stars and coral may be spotted on or under rocks or other objects in the shallow water. Park flora includes live oak, yaupon, cedar and black locust.
Nearby natural attractions include the Theodore Roosevelt Natural Area, eight miles west of Fort Macon. With extensive maritime forests and freshwater ponds, this area is also the site of the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.
Five-sided Fort Macon is constructed of brick and stone. Twenty-six vaulted rooms also called casemates are enclosed by outer walls that average 4 1/2 feet thick.
Blackbeard and other infamous pirates were known to have passed through Beaufort Inlet at will while successive wars with Spain, France and Great Britain during the Colonial Period provided a constant threat of coastal raids by enemy warships. Beaufort was captured and plundered by the Spanish in 1747 and again by the British in 1782.
North Carolina leaders recognized the need for coastal defenses to prevent such attacks and began efforts to construct forts. The eastern point of Bogue Banks was determined to be the best location for a fort to guard the entrance to Beaufort Inlet, and in 1756 construction of a small fascine fort known as Fort Dobbs began there. Fort Dobbs was never finished, and the inlet remained undefended during the American Revolution.
Fort Macon was a federal prison from 1867 to 1876, garrisoned during the Spanish-American War and closed in 1903. Congress offered the sale of the fort in 1923, and the state purchased the land, making it the second state park. Restored by the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1934-35, the fort was garrisoned for the last time during World War II.
In 1923, Fort Macon was offered for sale as surplus military property. However, at the bidding of North Carolina leaders, a Congressional Act on June 4, 1924, sold the fort and surrounding reservation for the sum of $1 to the state of North Carolina to be used as a public park. This was the second area acquired by the state for the purpose of establishing a state parks system.
During 1934-35 the Civilian Conservation Corps restored the fort and established public recreational facilities, which enabled Fort Macon State Park to officially open May 1, 1936, as North Carolina's first functioning state park.
At the outbreak of World War II, the US Army leased the park from the state and actively manned the old fort with Coast Artillery troops to protect a number of important nearby facilities. The fort was occupied from December, 1941, to November, 1944. On October 1, 1946, the Army returned the fort and the park to the state.
The beautiful beach is a popular source of recreation at the park. A seaside bathhouse and refreshment stand are open Memorial Day through Labor Day for your convenience and comfort. Memorial Day through Labor Day, staff permitting. Because of strong water currents, visitors are encouraged to swim only in the protected area. Surfing is not allowed in protected swimming area.
Fish are abundant in the inlet and the ocean. Flounder, bluefish, spot, croaker, sheepshead and whiting provide plenty of sport and lots of good eating. Fishing may be enjoyed throughout the year at Fort Macon.
Spring Fishing starts slow but will improve as the water warms with catches of flounder, bluefish, red drum and various other species that return this time of year.
Summer Fishing this time of year is usually a mixed bag of black drum, spot, flounder, bluefish, pompano, red drum and sea mullet.
Fall Fall is the time when surf anglers enjoy runs of sea mullet whiting, pompano, spot, gray trout, red drum, bluefish, black drum and various other species.
Winter Fishing becomes tougher as the water cools. Determined anglers can target speckled trout and redfish in the surf. This time of year also has good numbers of dogfish.