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Recently I wrote about a very family-friendly spot to see bears in North Carolina. It is a little more remote, meaning it is not on the way to the Outer Banks although it is not too far away. No, if you are heading to the Pungo Unit of Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, it is because you want to see bears and other wildlife. It is a destination, not a stopover. There are an estimated 8, bears in this area.

Misadventures and I have been there together over a dozen times and Mr. Misadventures has been there solo tons more, he visits nearly every week. During those trips together, we have only not seen a bear once. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you! Also as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. In particular, over , tundra swan pass through here on their migratory paths in January and February.

Plus there are lots of other bird species along with river otters, deer, turtles, and more. The Pungo Unit of Pocosin Lakes NWR is a 12,acre plot of land dedicated to providing a safe haven for migratory birds and waterfowl. There is something to see in Pungo all year round. The species you can expect to see include the following:. I would argue that the tundra swans are one of the most beautiful species to spy.

They can grow up to a staggering 52 inches tall with an extremely large wingspan. However, they tend to be more on the nervous side. Tundra swans are usually seen in huge flocks here. Oh, and they are LOUD! The roads through the refuge form a grid pattern and during the winter when all these wonderful birds are visiting the refuge the inner roads in the grid are closed. You can park and walk, but you will not be able to drive through. As for the bears, you can see them all year.

The refuge is surrounded by acres upon acres of forest. This, as well as the crops growing around it, make for a very bear-friendly habitat. After all, they are the kings of the forest! In the winter, they are dormant, but they are still out and viewable in the morning until about 10 and at sunset they are actually more active at night. In the spring, moms with cubs emerge so be careful, mommies can be dangerous! You can see the bears through most of the day, although early morning is still the best.

Through the summer they much a lot on the crops leading up to the fall when the harvests take place and the fields become a smorgasbord to them! You can see them from the road if you want, they are visible with the naked eye and binoculars are handy. We often spot a bear, parked, and then follow at a distance of at least 25 yards on foot. You can also walk on trails or through the forest.

The bears have dens in the forest and also hang out in the trees. They eat berries, soybeans, and peanuts plenty in Eastern NC. A portion of the land on the refuge is designated cropland. Cooperative farmers cultivate the fields and a portion of the crops are left for the animals, including the bears.

So your best chance of finding bears is near the fields. Depending on the season, the bears will be easier to spot than at other times for example right before they harvest the crops the bears are nearly impossible to see unless they pop their head up — which they do!

The refuge is a very sacred place to the Misadventures family. Since our first encounters with bears in the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park , we have been enamored by finding bears in the wild.

We liked bears before, Mr. We have bear things in our house and have always appreciated them. Seeing them in the wild is very spiritual for us. We knew when we moved to North Carolina that we would see them in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park but had no idea that 3 hours from Raleigh we would be able to see bears all the time. However the more we explore this refuge the more we have learned about it, or rather the surrounding area.

And by writing about it, maybe one day there will be a call to action to stop the practices that needlessly kill these bears. Granted 12,acres is a lot of land, but surrounding that land is ,acres of private hunting land. I not fundamentally against hunting, I know that is often needed to control populations, that it can be an enjoyable sport, and as a meat-eater, I have no leg to stand on, but after meeting several local visitors, photographers, bird watchers, fishermen and hearing their stories a pattern has emerged.

The guides illegally bait the bears or harass them with dogs to lure or chase them off the refuge. As the area in Eastern North Carolina is rural and there is very little work. Local guides can make a good chunk of money in a short period of time following these illegal practices, so there is zero incentive to stop. There have been stings in the past to stop this, but it still happens.

And it breaks my heart. The river otters are way harder to find. You have to approach by foot and be willing to walk a long way to follow them, but we have seen them in the summer and fall. I suggest that you try to get down to the Pungo Unit before the sun rises or late afternoon towards sunset to get shots of the wildlife. Sometimes it does get busy around dusk, the locals seem to all hop in their trucks and take a sunset ride to catch the bears heading for the fields.

A pocosin is freshwater wetlands with sandy peat soils. A swamp or marsh. The Pungo Unit has a lot of trees and canals and makes for a fabulous spot to table in hobbies such as bird watching and wildlife photography. There is simply an endless amount of interesting species to discover!

Year-round bear watching and winter waterfowl observation are the two most popular pastimes enjoyed here. But of course, there is plenty of bird and even snake species to go around. We like to head to the observation platforms that give us views of Pungo Lake it is a great spot for lunch. From the Raleigh area, we take Highway 64 just like you would for Alligator River.

Once you arrive in Plymouth, you take a right onto NC South there is a Shell station on this corner. Note: There are NO facilities in the refuge, so if you think you will need a bathroom stop, stay on 64 for about another mile as there is a rest area with very clean restrooms. Stop there and head back the way you came on 64, and turn left onto NC South.

Continue for 11 miles and you will come up to a sign on the corner for the refuge. From here you have 2 choices. Turn left. There is an official map pdf that does a pretty good job of indicating the roads. There is no food or restaurants once you pass Plymouth so consider packing a picnic which is what we do or eating before you arrive.

There are no parking areas and you will be stopping or parking on the side of the road. There are also no trash cans logical except one at the entrance, so be prepared to pack your trash out. How about you? If not, have I enticed you to check it out? Do tell! For a visual summary of this post, check out my Pungo Unit web story! Your email address will not be published.

What amazing photos. My daughter especially loves animals. How cool! Seeing animals in their natural habitat is amazing! I love seeing bears in the wilderness! We have them where I live but you never see them much, I may just being making a trip to NC soon! This sounds like a lovely place to visit!

My cousin lives in North Carolina and we hope to visit her as well as go to the beach when it is safe to travel. Wow, what an amazing place to visit. I would love to go there with my kids. My kids would love to visit and see all this wildlife. Your photos are amazing, thanks for sharing this great spot.

These are the types of places I love to go to. Enjoying nature and all the creatures that go with it. Great post. It is sad about the hunting area nearby though. Sounds like a beautiful refuge. I was not familiar with it but now would love to visit.



– Best places to see bears in north carolina – best places to see bears in north carolina

Your best bet to see bears would be in Cades Cove in the national park. It is a long drive from Lake Lure but a beautiful drive. Get on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge: The Place to see bears!!! – See traveler reviews, candid photos, and great deals for Manns Harbor, NC. 1. Cades Cove · 2. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail · 3. Newfound Gap Road · 4. Bear Habitat at Three Bears General Store.


Wildlife Viewing Tour- Take a driving tour of Eastern NC wildlife — Dare to Hyde – The Cherokees have a special relationship with bears. You will, too, after just one visit.

The coastal region just west of the famous beaches of North Carolina’s Outer Banks may be the best place in North America to photograph black bears. There are approximately 2, bears in the national park, so the chances are high you will see one on your visit. The best viewing spots for black bears are. North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge has an estimated hundreds (that’s a plural of hundred!) of bears. You just need to.

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