Details for Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center (free dock)

Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center (free dock)

Display in The Interactive Cruising Guidebook
Average rating 4.2 stars from 89 reviews

Address 2356 US Hwy 17 N
South Mills, NC 27976


After hours contact

Facility type

Marina - NO
Club - NO
Fuel - NO
Repair - NO
Municipal - NO
Other - YES
Other info: Rest Area, Public Restrooms, Travel Information.


The vistor's center has a book exchange. There are four beach-cruiser bicycles available, at the Welcome Center, on a first come first serve basis; for use on the paved three mile trail that runs parallel to the canal and Hwy 17. The DSC State Park is also on the grounds. The State Park's Visitor Center is open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekends. Mountain bike and kayak rentals available.

VHF channel

They do try to monitor 13 but it is best to call on the phone 252-771-8333 or 1-877-771-8333.


Email contact

Owner, manager



Payments acceptedCredit cards - NO
Checks - NO

Payment info

Payment discounts

Operation (seasonal or year-round)
Year round

Additional info: The Information Center hours are 9 am to 5 pm daily. It is currently closed on Wednesdays.


Right on the channel.





Tide & current additional info

Occasional snags and submerged logs - go slow!


Approach: Unknown
Transient dockage: 6
Fuel dock: Unknown

Other depth info:

Dock typesWood - YES
Concrete - NO
Floating - NO
Fixed - YES
T/Alongside - YES
Other - NO

Additional info: Expect to raft with others. No dock help, but other boaters will help you tie up. 150 foot long.

Size restrictionsLOA max: Unknown
Beam max: Unknown

Other info: No size restriction. Dock is a 150 pull alongside fixed dock. It holds 3 or 4 boats and others raft across. It has been reported that they have had as many as 23 boats tied up at one time.


Transient: 0
Total: Unknown
Transient price: $0.00/ft (2012-03-28)

Other price info:


Transient: Unknown
Total: Unknown
Transient price: Unknown

Other price info:

AC power30 amp - NO
50 amp - NO
100 amp - NO

Additional info: No

Pricing info:

Cable TV (and pricing)

Phone hookup (and pricing)

Water (and pricing)

Yes - Available from a spigot under the north end of the dock. It is well water that the visitor center said is okay.

Dinghy access

Liveaboard info


Fuel brand:

Gas priceUnknown

Other price info:

Diesel priceUnknown

Other price info:


Pets welcomeYes

Other pet info: Pets are welcome. Dog area to left of Center from dock.

Disability access

Launch service

Pump out



No - Staff usually keeps a few small bags in the freezer at the Welcome Center as a courtesy to boaters who need/request ice.


Yes - There's a umpster in the parking lot on the other side of the buildings.








No - South Mills is the closest grocery store and could be accessed via use of free bikes. Or you may be able to get a staff member of the Welcome Center to provide you a free shuttle upon request.







Hotels or motels


Repair capabilities


Haul out capabilities


Storage facilities


Fishing supplies


Chartering capabilities


Internet access

Yes - Free WiFi is available and reaches to the docks, get the current password at the office. ATT and Verizon work well.

Boat ramp availability




Other services

This is a State of North Carolina information Center with gift shop devoted to the Dismal Swamp. Staff is extremely devoted to the Swamp and very helpful. The Info Center is open 7 days a week, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. They provide free NC Coastal Guides, FL Cruising Guides, and other boating information.


Dismal Swamp State Park is on the west side of the Canal. Exhibits, hiking and mountain biking trails, boardwalk, picnic tables, paddling.

Reviews for Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center (free dock)
Great Free Dock, 2016-09-01
Captain: , North Charleston, SC (752)

It's free, there are clean restrooms and trash cans. One of the nice things is meeting and talking to other boaters. There were four other boats when we stopped so we rafted to one and got to meet them and the other boaters.

We walked to the state park and toured the facility. We had no trouble sleeping and weren't affected by highway traffic.

As for the complaint about a boat being docked in the middle, perhaps this boat was pulled up tight behind another boat and then the other boat left. You don't know what happened.

Far better spot 6 miles north, 2016-08-08
Captain: , Amelia Island, Florida (40)

am I mistaken or has no one reviewed the dock approximately 6 miles north of the welcome center? easily room for two boats or more if rafted. sparkling clean bathrooms and picnic tables. evidently this is fairly new as it was not listed in my cruising guide. I f I found the welcome center to be very noisy from the highway sound and crowded with tourists. The atmosphere was a little too busy for me I don't know the name of this place but there's no lights anywhere so it's black as smut at night here. this is a much more remote feeling as I expected to see on the dismal Swamp. there are signs warning of bears… But I don't think they like boaters... let's hope not!

Great overnight stop, 2016-07-28
Captain: , Confetti, Kadey Krogen (1619)

On our way south on the Dismal. Stopped about 7 pm for the night. Very clean. Picnic tables to eat out. Very clean bathrooms and nice trail to walk in the morning. BUT PLEASE when you dock, pull all the way up or back. The boat docked there when we arrived was about 39' and he was smack in the middle of the dock. Made it difficult for us and there was little room for a third boat. Overall, great stop over with tons of info and you can go to the park

highway rest stop , 2016-07-13
Captain: , full time cruisers (273)

Yes the bathrooms are nice and open 24/7, that's because it's a rest stop off highway 17. While not quite as busy as a major freeway, there were still a steady stream of vehicles stopping. Why do people have to honk their horn to lock the door? And why set the alarm for a 2 minute pee break?

Also there are several bright "street light" type lamps shining down on the boats. Good for security I guess but unless you have good curtains, the inside of your boat will be as bright as daytime.

Overall not a good sleeping spot.

Wonderful, Relaxing Stop, 2016-06-08
Captain: , annapolis (453)

My tenth stop. Donna and her associates are always friendly and helpful. A great group.

Dock is in excellent shape and the grounds are well maintained.

Restrooms recently completed a renovation = new and clean!

I always look forward to visiting with the DSCWC staff and other cruisers that stop for the night.

Stopped 10/9 and 10/2015. Docks are in very good condition.
Donna, the Welcome Center's Director and her associates are
very nice. No tide, current just relaxing after transiting Norfolk.

No problems with Duck Weed in South Mills Lock. However, immediately turned the engine off when boat was secure in the lock.

We had a great stop here!, 2016-05-21
Captain: , Colchester VT (380)

We pulled in with friends we had met in Alligator River Marina and stopped together in Eliz. City and here also. They have a 48' trawler and we were joined by two other trawlers so I took an outside raft which worked fine. Rained while there so we toured the nature center. Fun. The Visitor Center is really nice - clean rest rooms. Great packet of info from them.
On our way south last fall there were about 12 boats here - four long and rafted three deep! We elected not to make it four deep so we and our buddy boat went to South Mills- between the bridge and the lock. It was great there - we just made it before closing for the night! A note about transiting the Dismal Swamp. We draw 4.5ft and had no bumps coming down. We bumped a few times going north and I think it was from following the trawlers. When we bumped we were not in the shallow spots - so I think the trawlers kick up logs on the bottom!! My advice if you can - either be first, or go alone, or hold way back if following!

Great overnight stop--don't pass it by., 2016-05-17
Captain: , Grand Rivers, Ky (2206)

Very nice welcome center and State Park center across the bridge. Very helpful and informative staff at both locations.

Great Fun with Great People, 2016-05-13
Captain: , Harrington Harbour South (95)

Despite all the gloomy predictions we had a great passage northbound through the swamp. Never less that 7.9' of water. One log spotted. Made the last lockage at South Mills and rafted up with 8 other boats at the welcome center. Food was combined and a big cookout ensued. Peaceful night and early departure for the Great Bridge lock

Nice setting. Too bad about the highway, 2016-05-11
Captain: , Essex, CT (1675)

Delightful setting. And can't beat being free! The staff are wonderful - they clearly enjoy having boaters stop to see the Dismal Swamp. Only complaint is that it's a pity the highway is located beside the canal. Can't change it but it takes away from them the isolated ambiance.

Only two hits today, 2016-05-09
Captain: , Poughkeepsie, NY (6077)

We have a 4 ft 9 in keel and we hit twice which us better than average for us. I've been as high as 10 hits in the past. The water level was higher today than I've ever seen it over the past six years but we still had the hits, not bad hits, more like thunks and we moved on.

free is good, 2016-04-06
Captain: , South Portland, Maine (847)

As others have said, this is a fine FREE half way stop on the Dismal Swamp Route going north (or south). There are trash cans and a restroom open 24 hours on site. The information at the visitor's centetr is typical of a travel stop for cars. The folks there were really hospitable and enjoyed hearing about the loop. We were one of two boats 3/31 and had the place to ourselves after 5 when the visitor's center closes. Note this is a rest area for the adjacent highway so secure your boat if you go for a walk. The walking trails are across a pedestrian bridge from the dock which is open after 5. The center offers lots of local information about Virginia but is geared to land travel. We will stay here again when staging for a passage north. The deep Creek Bridge and Lock are about 18 miles statute north.

The speed limit thoroughout this route is 5 MPH which is reasonable considering the very narrow canal and fragile environement of the area. Mulpiple free tie ups are located along the eastern side, particularly at the rest stops along the bike path between the visitor's center and Deep Ctreek Lock.

Quiet and peaceful 12/16/2015, 2016-01-10
Captain: , Wilmington NC (400)

Stopped short to wait on weather. Lots of trails to walk. Bridge operator very nice to chat with. Great wifi. No rafting when your late heading South.

Calm and easy, 2016-01-03
Captain: , Eastport, MD (161)

The benefits of heading south in December include not having to raft up. Tied off here, no current, no drama. Free wifi but you may have to walk up to the visitor's center to get signal. Restrooms were still under construction. The staff was very friendly, as was Charlie who runs the pontoon bridge.

Great stop for free!, 2015-12-12
Captain: , USEastCoast (664)

Good dock, new bathrooms will be completed by 1/2016 (no showers) free wifi, water and book exchange. lender bikes and a very nice state park facility next door. We always stop here. he Depths in canal to have all been in excess of 6' 8" (2m) mostly above 7' (2.1m) and quite a bit over 8' (2.43m). We draw 5' (1.5m) and we didn't bump once.

Nice free dock with paths and nature center, 2015-10-26
Captain: , Chicago, Racine, Fish Creek,Wi (3163)

Stopped to stay the night after traveling the day from Portsmouth.
Nice stop but had to raft off dock we were six out, then 5 out , and 5 out on the dock. 16 total on the dock made it interesting :) It was a flotilla from Sail Magazine travelling the swamp. Lots of nice people.

Good layover place, 2015-09-27
Captain: , Fort Pierce City Marina, FL (460)

Though no power and limited water, this is a nice place to stop while doing the Swamp. Be sure to catch the visitor center on the other side of the canal along with both the boardwalk & the foot trail. There is a reconstructed moonshine still out in the woods. The restrooms on this side are under construction. However, there are nice ones on the other side in the visitor center.

Enjoyed our stay!, 2015-07-04
Captain: , Oriental, NC (190)

We were the only boat there so it was very quiet and relaxing. We docked right next to the water spigot. We didn't fill our water tanks because we had done that the day before but the lady at the Welcome Center staff told us that even though it was labeled non-potable it was the same water that came into the Welcome Center. We did take advantage of it to wash off the boat though. We were not able to connect to wi-fi even with our wi-fi extenders. Welcome Center staff and lock operators were all very personable.

Stayed night of 4/30/15, 2015-05-02
Captain: , Atlanta (770)

It was rainy and cold the night we were there, but we rafted up to another boat at dock (there were 6 of us overnight). We enjoyed the state park/museum adjacent to the dock; again, too wet/cold to take advantage of the walking trails. Bathrooms are open all night, which was nice.

an Oasis in the middle of nowhere, 2015-05-01
Captain: , Punta Gorda, FL (2870)

Staying again in 2015 and still love it. - Yes, it is only a dock with no electric, but it is free, in great shape, and the staff at the Visitor Center go out of their way to be helpful. It is a pretty stop, to be sure.

Free, terrific stop, hassle free, 2015-04-29
Captain: , Ft Myers, Florida (1804)

Right North of the floating bridge to the State Park. Rest room at the road side visitors center. No water or electric. If more than 3 40 ft boats you will need to raft up. We had 5 last night, had docktails, was fun! Easy tie up, very little current, no tide, no waves, just peace. No Pumpout . Far enough off US 17 so noise not noticeable.5 mile bike path along canal, free loaner bikes at visitor center. Can not take loaner bikes into State Park. State Park hr 8-530. Bridge left open at night. Bridge opens on demand during 8-6pm then left opened for night at 6pm.
State Park has a visitor center closes at 430, worthwhile. Rental bikes available at State Park at 930am. Over 15 miles of old logging road trails in State Park, good to bike ride or hike. Saw 5 white tail deer this morning riding my bike.1/2 mile swamp board walk near visitors center, through a SWAMP.
Very good stop just no services or anything nearby. Rest area adjacent to docks does have vending machines and restrooms.
Docks had cleats and post to tie to.

Great Break, 2015-02-20
Captain: , Williamsburg, VA (745)

The DSC rest stop is a welcome break from the canal passage. If we had been able to leave Deep Creek at first light we may have made it to South Mills by dark. Our stay at the visitor center was great. We were the only boat when we got there but, were rafted three deep by night fall. Every one very courtious.

Well worth the stay, 2015-02-20
Captain: , Summerlin, NV (350)

This is boating in a living piece of history and hard to beat. Great docks that were almost full when we arrived midafternoon. In short order though, the boaters shortened up a few lines and readjusted their positions thereby allowing room for us to raft up 5 more small boats curising the swamp together. This is a wonderful friendly environment that invites the making of new friends and cruising buddies. The history of the area is well presented and easily to taken in. As west coast boaters who had never before even heard of the Swamp, this was a wonderful oportunity and we appreciate the effort and care it has taken to maintain this gem. Transiting the canal is highly recommended, along with making time for this overnight stop.

Overnight rest stop..........., 2014-12-20
Captain: , Sneads Ferry, NC (351)

.....for truckers, boaters, dog-walkers, and anyone else who happens by! Again, road noise is the price you pay for a free dock. We were concerned about security, but saw nothing to support the concern. Walk over the footbridge and bike tour of the GDS park is a nice diversion. Only 3 boats docked, no rafting required.

Convenient Stop when Locking Through, 2014-12-07
Captain: , Onancock, VA (172)

Expect to raft as the dock gets crowded quickly. Staff is friendly and location is convenient for timing the locks.

The Interpretive Center is interesting but if you really want to know about the canal and the bog (It's not a swamp) talk to Robert Peek at the Deep Creek Lock.

Only real option in swamp, 2014-11-28
Captain: , Port Dover, Ontario (90)

Stopped here awhile ago while passing through the swamp. Seemed the only viable location to do so that we saw. Due to the lock entering the swamp boats tend to come in packs. We were the second boat to dock here and by the end there was about 15, in three rows of rafting. We had five boats rafted to our side by the end. Was no problen however, and all boats left early as we would have been trapped otherwise. Nice washrooms, and friendly staff at the welcome center

Fun Stop. , 2014-11-26
Captain: , Portland, Maine (845)

Very nive place to pull over and spend the night. The folks at the welcome center are very friendly and welcoming. We checked out the museum and trails on the west side of the canal.

Great place to get some exercise off the boat, 2014-10-23
Captain: , West Gardiner, ME (735)

Loved this stop. Great hiking trails at the state park, and an easy boardwalk for anyone who doesn't do hikes. Flat paved off road trail most of the way to south mills dam. Free visitor center bikes to travel this with. There were 9 boats ratted when we stayed, and it was very comfortable.

Wow The Dismal Swamp is a Gem, 2014-10-14
Captain: , Lizella GA (1826)

You tie up to a bulkhead with the help of other boates there is enough room for 3 or 4 boats before they have to raft up. the ladies at the Welcome Center were very welcoming and nice. There is a good size boaters swap library with some reallly good hard and soft cover books. Do not forget to visit the museum across the little bridge. It gives you all the history of the canal in displays and pictures and the staff acan answer any questions about the canal. It makes traveling the canal worth 100 times more because you can see the history and the people in your mind as you travel where people like George Washigton built the canal. This is a unique and one of a kind part of the ICW and should not be missed if at all possible.

Bare Bones Dockage, 2014-09-16
Captain: , Wilmington, NC (185)

But a great experience that shouldn't be missed. No power, no water, simply a bulkhead to tie to, but a great spot. Good information available from both the highway welcome center and from the very well done museum across the canal. The canal pedestrian bridge, which gives everyone access to the museum, is opened at about 5:30 pm and remains open until the museum reopens at 9 am. This allows boaters to proceed south when the bridge is untended.

Nice overnight location, 2014-09-08
Captain: , Norfolk, VA (165)

We stayed overnight Sept 6, 2014 with 2 other 36' trawlers. New looking docks in good repair. Close to restrooms in the Visitor's center. Be sure to cross the foot bridge to see the Dismal Swamp State Park exhibit.

Great stop. Bring bug spray., 2014-07-24
Captain: , Williamsburg, VA (107)

The visitor center staff could not have been more friendly. We enjoyed the bike trail that runs along the canal and the state park's great visitor center as well. Men's bathroom was not the cleanest and it's very buggy, but we had a nice quiet night.

Just watch out for the yellow flies, 2014-07-13
Captain: , Chattanooga, TN (370)

Previous reviews all very accurate, can't add much except that the yellow biting flies made our trip through the swamp pretty miserable. We were there 7-2-14.

Great Place to Relax and Get Ready for "The Bay", 2014-05-16
Captain: , Little River, SC (476)

5/3/14 - Beautiful spot to stop and relax before entering the really busy Portsmouth/Norfolk area. Great state park/welcome center for NC. Fun place to walk around and just enjoy mother nature.

dismal swamp welcome center, 2014-04-19
Captain: , Bayou Bonfouca, LA- Great Loop Cruiser (708)

We stopped by here on our way north. What a great stop!
Plenty to see & do.
We highly recommend the boardwalk & nature station west of the canal.
The staff at the welcome center are friendly & helpful.
We spent several hours exploring, before we headed north to deep creek bridge bulkhead.

Friendly, friendly, friendly, 2014-04-17
Captain: , Belleville, On. Canada (122)

I am not sure that I can add anything to previous posts, but we love this place. Dispite the curious people that stop to use the facilities, this is a very friendly and quiet cruiser getogether. The people we met here, we stayed with all the way down through the Bahamas. And on the way back, the ladies in the center treated us like gold. And with not time limit for your stay, you can hang out here as long as your holding tank can last. We will stay longer next time. This trip was 4 days, and there were still things we wanted to do.

Priced right, 2014-02-26
Captain: , Edmonton (279)

The pros: free; solid dock in excellent shape; washrooms; information centre with loaner bicycles, tv and wi-fi; picnic tables and bar-b-q's. The cons: you're on the highway; this is a rest-stop for drivers; there are no other facilities and you're in the middle of nowhere. The tourist information staff are very nice and helpful. If you don't need to have electricity and being at a rest-stop doesn't bother you, this is great place to take a break from the monotony of the dismal swamp transit.

Enjoyable Experience 18 Dec 2013, 2013-12-23
Captain: , Green Cove Springs, FL (280)

Stopped here early in the afternoon to visit the State Park and Visitors Center. Everyone very nice and helpful. Free wifi and VZW 4G very strong. Spent the night with two other boats. Any more and we'd be rafting. This time of year bridge normally shut, just call ahead if heading south and not stopping. Talked with many travelers from the highway that were visiting.

Good Stop, 2013-11-24
Captain: , Narragansett RI (234)

Spent two nights due to storm, staff volunteered that we should not hurry due to the posted one day maximum stay rule. Water under dock, wifi from welcome center. Enjoyed a hike and social group of others here. Rafted three deep, so expect that. Great stopover.

Very nice spot, 2013-11-15
Captain: , Ottawa (1173)

Not much to add to the positive reviews of this location. One note though - while we were there the washrooms were vandalized overnight. Windows were broken and fixtures in the washrooms were broken. Please always be prudent of your own security when docked at free docks. We were lucky that the vandals didn't turn their attention to the boats that were docked just 100 feet away from where they were destroying public property.

Good stop on this route., 2013-10-09
Captain: , Charlotte Harbor, FL (1588)

One of many option to tie up in the swamp route.

We rafted out third from the dock.

Don't rush to make the last locking of the day., 2013-10-06
Captain: , Houston, Texas (970)

Restrooms, wifi, air conditioning in the visitor's center when it is open. A boating community gathers here. 9 boats were here rafted 3 deep. No wakes, no current, no muddy anchor.

Wonderful setting and unique rest area, 2013-08-01
Captain: , Weston, VT (570)

Pulled in this week for a one night stay. We had bounced off of logs on the bottom the entire canal ride and needed a break. Our 53 trawler easily fit as we were all alone but 3 53 footers could tie up before rafting was necessary. Had never been to a combo boat/car rest area. Friendly staff and nice book exchange which we used. Nice museum across the foot bridge and walkway thru the swamp. This was our first (and last) Dismal Swamp trip due to our draft but we are glad we tried it and had no damage.

Nice Place To Stop, 2013-06-30
Captain: , Beaufort, S.C. (640)

There is no Dockmaster here and they don%u2019t take reservations, but docking is quite easy. We were the only boat on the dock when we arrived early in the day to explore and spend the night. There is a nice walking/biking trail running alongside the canal on the same side as the visitor center. A footbridge allows walkers to cross the canal and explore the state park on the other side.

Expect to raft- off here, 2013-05-13
Captain: , Trenton ON (668)

Friendly staff at both the visitor center and the information center.

Interesting stop, 2013-05-11
Captain: , Athens, AL (641)

Don't recall ever being in a rest area/state park combo like this with boats docked alongside the vehicles passing through. The folks in the visitors center were very nice and helpful. There were only 3 of us docked for the night so no rafting up was necessary. The museum was interesting and we walked the boardwalk through the swamp. It was too cold and rainy to ride the bike trail but it looked nice.

Lovely spot, 2013-05-09
Captain: , Brooklin, ME (1081)

Other reviews are pretty much right on. Nothing to add, except we loved it, too.

Not Dismal Atoll, 2012-12-02
Captain: , Nyack, NY (646)

We were the fourth boat in and we rafted up. The boat we rafted to left early and the three boats left were spending another night, so we tied up alongside and a boat came up and rafted outside of us! A lovely spot. Information center, Rest rooms, loaner bikes, picnic area.

First Raft Up but it went well., 2012-11-18
Captain: , Miami Beach (630)

We were here for Halloween. Everyone else who had stayed for Sandy left to get a jump on the day trip to Elizabeth City. We got there around 2:00 and there were 2 other boats there. More arrived after that so we had a raft up which was fun. One of the people on one of the boats went into town and bought candy and small adult beverages and distributed them to everyone on their boats. That was very thoughtful. Sara at the Visitors Center was very helpful and accomodating. It is a lovely location and would recommend and go back in a heart beat.

Wonderful stopping place, 2012-11-06
Captain: , Roseville MN (398)

Beautiful visitor center and park. Good place to walk. No provisions. Free dock. We got rafted-up-on overnight, but it was okay - so you can always find a place here to tie up to. Long way from any other docks. We hit it on the day they had a street fair (Dismal Days?), was a lot of fun.

Pretty and quiet. , 2012-10-22
Captain: , Delafield, WI (90)

We arrived mid day. The welcome center had some bikes for us to use. We rode into South Mills to get some charcoal. We used their grills to have a cook out. Met cruisers at the locks while in town. Then had a get together at the docks. Boats rated up and all was good.

Water is non potable but comes from the town. It is chlorinated. Some put it in their tanks. No power. Internet was weak but with wirie it was fine.

So pleased to spend a great October day here., 2012-10-21
Captain: , Roseville, MN (372)

We were the first boat in. Took the most northern spot. Two more boats came in. Very mellow day as hit there celebration of Dismal Swamp. Restrooms open all night. Borrowed bikes for great trail ride. Three more boats came in and one rafted to us. But at 7:30 am, 5 took off. Bridge at Center was open Bridge at South Mills opened at 8:30. Tie off places on left and right sides. Between the brlidge and locks, ample tie up places with good cleats. Very friendlly lockmaster.

Best visitor center, 2012-10-13
Captain: , boston (70)

Room for 3 or 4 boats and then rafting up. Free wifi available from visitor center, just tell them you arrived by boat & ask for password. They have a room in visitor center with kids toys and books. Loaner bicycles are great for riding on the bike trail alongside canal.

Cool Night in the Swamps!, 2012-10-09
Captain: , Oriental (270)

We had a delightful stay at the Dismal Swamp Visitor Center free docks. No, there is no water, power, or pumpout. But there are 24 hour restrooms and free WiFi (we had no problem picking it up on our WirieAP, booster antenae, on the docks). The staff was friendly and helpful at the visitor center and at the Dismal Swamp center across the foot bridge on the western side of the canal. There are great trails and dirt roads to run on and a fabulous nature center with very nice bathrooms (and classrooms and park rangers). It was a very nice stop.

Have to agree, 2012-10-03
Captain: , Jacksonville Fl (1550)

There need to be some courtsey shown here. We arrived with 3 boats on the dock, first one left 10ft of dock behind him, not enough to tie to. Finally got one on the other end to tighten up enough to get half our boat to the dock, and that was enough. We let the bow stick out beyond the dock, so what we just need enough roomn to get off and on.
Be sure to visit the museuem on the opposite shore, free.

Boats need to snuggle up!!, 2012-09-27
Captain: , Topsail Beach, NC (480)

We arrived late in the afternoon to find three boats already at the dock. They were spaced out so that there was not room for us. No one offered to let us raft, so we asked if a couple of the boats would move forward so we could squeeze in the back. One boat did move, and we parallel parked by tossing lines to people on the dock who pulled us sideways in between two boats....a tight fit and very stressful.

The lesson is: first boat in should go to farthest end of dock and stick nose off the end. Next boats should pull in tight. There should be room for 4 boats without rafting. If a boat comes clearly looking for a place to stay and there is no room, OFFER TO LET THEM RAFT!! Simple common boater's courtesy at a free dock!

Good place to stop, 2012-08-28
Captain: , St. Somewhere (530)

When it gets dark in the swamp, it gets really dark. The dock is just the right distance to make just before dark going South from the last lock time at the north lock. Only boat in the swamp that night, so had the whole dock to ourselves.

Great place to spend the night, 2012-08-28
Captain: , Amelia Island, FL (507)

What this dock lacks in services (electric hookup) it makes up for in the friendliness of the staff, the cleanliness of the facilities, the Dismal Swamp Canal museum and the boardwalk through a portion of the swamp. Docking is easy, there is no tide or current to be concerned with and it is quiet. For southbound boats, its only about five miles to the South Mills Bridge/lock so making the 0830 opening is no problem. It's a great place to stop and break up the slow transit through the canal

Great Stop!, 2012-08-02
Captain: , Charleston, SC (422)

Had the entire tie-up to advantage of traveling in July. Excellent spot to let your pet out for exercise. Ladies in visiting center really enjoy talking about the Swamp. Lots of nature. Easy in and electric/water...lots of questions from visitors who travelled by car.

Good stop for an overnight, 2012-06-25
Captain: , Fort Pierce, Florida (369)

Were able to tie up and stop for the night, but the Visitor's Center was closed for two days for flooring replacement. Restrooms were clean and air conditioned and the Dismal Swamp State Park Visitor Center was a great place to visit. Lots of info on wildlife and nature. But June and hot weather brought out the flies. Use lots of bug repellant.

Dismal Swamp Visitors Center, 2012-06-19
Captain: , Old Saybrook CT (56)

Great stop, super clean rest rooms but no showers or power.
Free loaner bikes to get to a grocery store.
We have stopped here, north and south, for the last 5 years and love it.

Nice stop, easy docking, 2012-06-12
Captain: , Dunedin, FL (7374)

Easy docking, no current and protected from any wind. Convenient restrooms and plenlty of open area to walk your dog. Nice visitors info center (rest stop for Hwy 17 & for Dismal Swamp) If you are running the Dismal in one day, makes a good break to help you time the lock openings, 4 a day and sometimes less if water levels low.

Great Stopover, 2012-06-07
Captain: , Middle River, MD (354)

Stopped here for the night and met several interesting people. I was headed south but most were going north. Boats rafted 2 and 3 deep - no problem. Beautiful grounds, nice bathrooms, friendly staff at the information center. Don't forget to cross the bridge and go to the nature center.

Very Friendly Staff, Beautiful Surroundings, 2012-05-27
Captain: , Solomons, MD (1025)

The weekend we were at the Visitor Center there were only two other boats and very few visitors. We spent the night in near idyllic conditions: the bugs were down, the weatehr was great, the traffic was light. Even though we are a big boat we had a spot on the dock. In short, a memorable stay.

Dismal Swamp Visitors Center, 2012-05-09
Captain: , Baltimore, Maryland (330)

Always a treat to tie up here. It is free, but not much in the way of amenities. However, a great place to meet other boaters. For some, the trip on the ICW reallt started here when going south. Be prepared to raft up 2 - 3 deep when busy.

Really nice stop at the Welcome Center and State Park, 2012-05-06
Captain: , Cape Coral, FL (1521)

We spent the night on the dock with four other boats all in the 40' range. There's potable water on the north end of the dock, under it (get down on your knees and look over the edge). Welcome center has brochures on anything you might want to see/visit, a book exchange and will ask you to sign their boaters' log. The state park building across the pontoon bridge has exhibits on the swamp and the canal, plus a boardwalk and miles of walking/biking trails. Very friendly staff.

The first boat in to the dock yesterday didn't want to have anyone rafted to him, after much pressure finally relented and let the final boat come alongside. If you stay here, expect to raft; if you don't want to raft up, please don't stop here.

A great, free dock, 2012-04-29
Captain: , N Fort Myers, Florida (516)

A great dock with no electric or water. It does have restrooms and a very friendly welcome center.

Creative Docking, 2012-04-22
Captain: , Full Time Cruisers (2244)

Be prepared to raft up! Depending on the time of your arrival you may be on the inside or the outside of the raft. If you want a early departure, just hope you're on the outside. Unlike rafting up on the hook, here, the boat on the dock is the anchor boat.. Use plenty of lines if the wind is expected to pick up and the raft up will be 3 or 4 deep.

Visitors Center, 2012-04-20
Captain: , New York (483)

Good stop on the way between Elizabeth City and Norfolk. The swamp seems to be a few inches higher than last fall. At 6' draft, 62' high, had no problem going thru.

Dismal Swamp Canal Reopens March 19th, 2012, 2012-03-14
Captain: , South Mills (52)

We received official notification of the reopening after maintenance on Monday, March 19th, of the Dismal Swamp Canal. The lock gates were lowered back into the canal on March 6th,, and the Elizabeth II (ACOE crane barge) is going through the canal to make sure we are clear for boaters. We appreciate your help in getting the message out to the cruising community and look forward to a great 2012 boating season.

Pretty spot to stop for the night, 2011-12-30
Captain: , San Francisco CA (1301)

We enjoyed a night here on our way south. The only drawback is that if the Dismal Swamp is crowded you'll probably find a boat side-tied to you, or you'll have to side-tie.

Great Stop, 2011-11-26
Captain: , Portsmouth RI (275)

Stop and sign the book here and Elizabeth City. Will help to keep this amazing waterway funded.
Expect rafting, a great way to meet likeminded boaters.
Free map and information, very helpful staff, great bathrooms, unfortunately no showers.
Staff are very helpful and friendly.
We needed to have a package sent to us and they were happy to hold it until we arrived.

Free Docks, 2011-11-01
Captain: , Key Largo (5457)

Nice docks, showers, water on North end under edge of dock, bikes to borrow, welcome center, and gift shop. Free NC map. The hose spicket at the drinking fountain don't work.

Busy place but well worth stop, 2011-10-23
Captain: , Kingston, Ontario (1970)

20 boats rafted up, very busy but what a wonderful place. Staff super helpful and mist on canal early morning so picturesque. Great for walking, hiking, biking.

Nice Stop - with Great Picnic Areas!, 2011-05-25
Captain: , Cleveland (2083)

We spent a very enjoyable night here. The museum was closed (it was a Monday) but the restrooms were still open all night. Very clean and well kept - both inside the RR and the grounds area. Nice picnic tables nearby for an enjoyable meal on shore for a change! Definitely would stop again.

Loved the Great Dismal Swamp, 2011-05-21
Captain: , Bay City, MI (730)

One of the most beautiful spots on the Great Loop. Don't miss it. The free docks are perfect! No electric, water or showers. Easy tie up. Stop is also a vehicle stop for the Great Dismal Swamp. Office with information and a small museum worth a visit.

Nice Overnight Stop, 2011-05-18
Captain: , Caseville, MI (341)

Room for 3 maybe 4 boats on the wall, others raft off. Nice stop, enjoy being able to get off the boat and walk around.

Dismal Swamp Free Docks, 2011-05-15
Captain: , Grand Haven, Mi (2283)

We stopped on a Sunday and found the Visitors Center was closed Sunday and Mondays. Bummer!

Assume you will raft up, 2011-05-13
Captain: , Annapolis, MD (384)

If you don't like to raft up, don't stop. Put fenders out and be helpful to your fellow boaters!

Dismal Swamp Visitor Center, 2011-05-01
Captain: , Stratford, CT (658)

Very serene location with park-like facilities. Good museum of the Dismal Swamp.

Good place to stop and rest as well as meet others., 2011-02-06
Captain: , Gloucester, VA (514)

Your basic roadside rest stop. Clean bathrooms, gift shop/museum. Friendly staff, but you%u2019re on your own after hours. We brought ashore a grill and cooked out at one of the several available picnic tables. There was only one other boat there during our stop but I%u2019ve heard it can get quite crowded at times.

Convenient stop, 2010-10-30
Captain: , charleston (771)

About ten boats rafted up while we were there. Only drawback for us was that we were on the outside and couldn't take our dog ashore. He would have loved all the hiking trails. Museum is interesting too. Basic NC welcome center for highway traffic.

raft up and meet your neighbors, 2010-10-28
Captain: , Burlington, VT (141)

... no thanks. you don't have to stop here.... even if it's getting dark. southbound, a few miles up is a great wall with cletes to tie up to at the bridge. Be the first one through in the morning. Traffic nopise over the bridge until late. not much traffic in southmills though. Convienient store right nextdoor.

Mandatory Route, 2010-10-15
Captain: , North Myrtle Beach, SC (3210)

If you do not do anything, take the Swamp route and stay here, especially if you like history, nature, and beautiful surroundings. If you want Prime Rib, then take the VA Cut.

Nice place to meet people, 2010-06-11
Captain: , Melbourne Florida (4616)

May 10-free bikes you can borrow, no snakes this year.

May 09-Water is at the north end on face of dock in between pilings...not the one on the water facet. Everyone stopping by car come to admire your boat. People at center are very helpful, there are bikes you can use. Be aware, we had a rattle snake outside our boat on the dock at night...becareful if you have small animals.

Rafting/Potluck, 2009-10-12
Captain: , Redart VA (135)

Rafting 3 and even 4 wide is common, as is a community pot luck dinner among the cruisers.

Dismal Swamp, 2009-04-30
Captain: , Whitehall, Mi (1754)

Nice stop. Cell coverage was fine (at&t).

New floating bridge gives access to State Park a couple hundred yards south.

Free dock with water., 2008-05-11
Captain: , Old Saybrook, CT (1021)

Very friendly folks in the North Carolina Visitors' Center which includes a Dismal Swamp gift shop. Lots of fun get-togethers as rafted boats wait for the weather to clear at the ends of the canal as they make their ways north or south.

Good stop heading south, 2008-03-19
Captain: , Magothy River, Chesapeake Bay (31)

Good free docks, connected to a welcome center highway stop. You'll be the envy of all the car folks admiring your lifestyle on a boat. The free Florida directory is mostly advertising, not much navigational use. Very clean facility, very friendly people. We did not stay over night as we continued down to the also-free cleats provided just above the lower lock of the canal, but south of the bridge.

A must stop, 2007-09-11
Captain: , Punta Gorda, FL Cape Cod, MA (513)

Fine free dock. In season you may have to raft up, but the canal closes at night so no traffic to contend with. A fine Dismal Swamp gift shop on site and clean rest rooms. Also snack vending machines and barbecue facilities.

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