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Ecology

The shoreline at Carolina Beach State Park
Status of park facilities as of May 22   

Campsites are open for reservation as of May 22, with the exception of group campsites, which remain closed. As previously noted, one loop of the campground is closed for construction, while the other remains open. Please be prepared for construction noises and traffic changes.

Camper cabins are available for reservation from Fridays to Sundays. They are closed during the week for cleaning.

Trails, restrooms, the boat ramp, all marina facilities, and the picnic area are open. The visitor center remains closed.

When visiting, please follow social distancing guidelines, regardless of the behavior of others. Please try to stay 6 feet away from other visitors and park staff or wear a mask or face covering. Try to touch as few surfaces as possible and do not enter areas that have been closed off. Wash or sanitize your hands before, during, and after your visit, and stay home if you are sick.

 Last updated on: Thursday, May 21, 2020


Map of North Carolina – Carolina Beach State Park


Contact the park
 

910-458-8206

carolina.beach@ncparks.gov

 

Marina

910-458-7770
 


Addresses
 

Visitor center

1010 State Park Road
Carolina Beach, NC 28428

GPS: 34.0472, -77.9066

 

Mailing address

P.O. Box 475
Carolina Beach, NC 28428
 


Hours
 

► 

  • December to January:
    7:00am to 6:00pm
     
  • February:
    7:00am to 7:00pm
     
  • March to April:
    7:00am to 9:00pm
     
  • May to September:
    7:00am to 10:00pm
     
  • October:
    7:00am to 9:00pm
     
  • November:
    7:00am to 7:00pm
     
  • Closed Christmas Day
     

► 

  • Open daily:
    8:00am to 5:00pm
     
  • Closed Christmas Day
     

► 

  • December to January:
    8:00am to 5:30pm
     
  • February:
    8:00am to 6:30pm
     
  • March to April:
    8:00am to 8:30pm
     
  • May to September:
    8:00am to 9:30pm
     
  • October:
    8:00am to 8:30pm
     
  • November:
    8:00am to 6:30pm
     
  • Closed Christmas Day
     

► 

  • November to February:
    8:00am to 5:00pm
     
  • March to April:
    8:00am to 7:00pm
     
  • May to August:
    8:00am to 8:00pm
     
  • September to October:
    8:00am to 7:00pm
     
  • Closed Christmas Day
     

 

 

 

Natural resources

Get plant and animal checklists at the park office.

Plant life

Several coastal ecosystems are present in the park. Forests dominated by longleaf pine, turkey oak and live oak occupy the dry, coarse soil of a series of relict sand dunes. Between the dunes are dense shrub swamps, called pocosins, populated by pond pines, loblolly and sweet bay, yaupon and evergreen shrubs. Brackish marshes consisting primarily of cordgrasses and sedges can be found beyond the relict dunes adjacent to the river.

Three limesink ponds, each vegetated by a unique plant community, are found in the park. Cypress Pond, the most unusual limesink pond in the park, is dominated by a dwarf cypress swamp forest. Lily Pond is occupied by the broad, oval leaves and beautiful, white flowers of water lilies, which cover its waters in early summer. Grass Pond, which dries out almost every year, is filled with a variety of aquatic sedges. Carnivorous plants thrive in the boggy soil around its edge and in the park's acidic, mineral-poor soil.

Several interesting carnivorous plants thrive at Carolina Beach State Park by trapping and digesting insects. Among these carnivorous plants are pitcher plants, bladderworts, sundews and butterworts, but the most familiar — and the most spectacular — is the Venus flytrap.

With the appearance of a clam shell, the trap is actually a modified leaf. Its interior may be colored pale yellow to bright red. When its trigger hairs are touched by an insect, the halves close and the guard hairs interlock, entrapping its prey. The plant then secretes digestive fluids, and within 3 to 5 days, nutrients from the prey are absorbed and the trap reopens. Each trap dies after closing and opening three to five times. Throughout the growing season, new traps emerge from underground stems to replace those that have died.

Venus flytraps are native only within 60 to 70 miles of Wilmington. New propagation methods have saved the flytrap from becoming an endangered species. However, their numbers are declining due to the destruction of their habitats and poaching. Prescribed burning is beneficial to flytraps, as well as other kinds of carnivorous plants, as it discourages competing species.

Venus flytraps may be purchased at many retail nurseries. Help preserve this rare plant by not removing flytraps from the park. Check out more information on the Venus flytrap from the N.C. State University Cooperative Extension.

Animal life

Carolina Beach State Park is a great place for bird-watching. Brown pelicans thrive in the coastal environment, and warblers, finches and woodpeckers fill the woods. In summer, painted buntings, yellowthroats and prairie warblers can be seen in the forest, while ospreys populate Snow's Cut. In addition to providing habitat for resident land birds during the winter and summer, Carolina Beach State Park is located along an important migration corridor and attracts many birds during their migrations.

The small ponds in the park are home to several frog species. Carolina anoles, five-lined skinks, six-lined racerunners and various snake species are also found. Occasionally, an alligator will wander into the marina. White-tailed deer, raccoons and gray squirrels are abundant. Opossums, cottontails and other animals common to the southern coastal plain may be seen, along with an occasional fox squirrel, gray fox or river otter.