Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge, located on Pamlico Sound in Hyde County, North Carolina, was established on June 23, 1932. Approximately 8,800 acres are included in the National Wilderness Preservation System. The refuge is made up of saltmarsh islands and forested wetland interspersed with potholes, creeks, and drains.
Marsh vegetation is dominated by black needlerush and sawgrass while the mainland is forested by loblolly pine, pond pine and bald cypress. An additional 27,082 acres of adjacent, non-refuge open water are closed by Presidential Proclamation to the taking of migratory birds. Swanquarter NWR is an important estuarine and wilderness resource, it and the surrounding proclamation waters provide winter sanctuary for black ducks and canvasbacks, redheads and scaup. Additionally, it provides habitat for nesting osprey and colonial waterbirds and supports one of the northernmost populations of the American alligator.
The refuge lies about 60 miles east of Washington, NC, south of the village of Swan Quarter. A two-mile long gravel road south of Highway 264 leads into the upland portion of the refuge and to the site of the 1000 foot long Bell Island fishing pier. All other access to the refuge is via boat only