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Ecology

Fort Macon at Fort Macon State Park
Current status of park facilities   

The beach, trails, fort, visitor center, and restrooms are open. The exhibit rooms, concessions, and picnic shelter remain closed. All programs, including tours, are canceled until further notice.

A properly worn mask or face covering, covering both the nose and the mouth, is required to enter buildings such as the visitor center.

Please note that this alert is updated only when something changes. Generally, state parks are following the phased reopening statewide. As of September 11, 2020, we are following the new guidelines under phase 2.5.

 

 Last updated on: Friday, September 11, 2020


Map of North Carolina – Fort Macon State Park


Contact the park
 

252-726-3775

fort.macon@ncparks.gov

 

Bookstore

252-247-3100
 


Address
 

Visitor center

2303 E. Fort Macon Road
Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

GPS: 34.6979, -76.6783
 

Hours
 

► 

  • Open daily:
    9:00am to 5:30pm
     
  • Closed Christmas Day
     

► 

  • Including coastal education center and bookstore
     
  • Open daily:
    9:00am to 5:00pm
     
  • Closed Christmas Day
     

► 

  • November to February:
    8:00am to 5:30pm
     
  • March:
    8:00am to 7:00pm
     
  • April to May:
    8:00am to 8:00pm
     
  • June to August:
    8:00am to 9:00pm
     
  • September:
    8:00am to 8:00pm
     
  • October:
    8:00am to 7:00pm
     
  • Closed Christmas Day
     

► 

  • October to March:
    8:00am to 6:00pm
     
  • April to May:
    8:00am to 7:00pm
     
  • June to August:
    8:00am to 8:00pm
     
  • September:
    8:00am to 7:00pm
     
  • Closed Christmas Day
     

► 

  • Lifeguards available Memorial Day to
    Labor Day
     
  • 10:00am to 5:45pm
     
  • As staffing permits
     

► 

  • Monday to Friday:
    8:00am to 1:00pm
    2:00pm to 5:00pm
     
  • Closed state holidays
     

 

 

 

Natural resources

Get plant and animal checklists at the park office.

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 the last storm. Sea urchins, sea stars and coral may be spotted on or under rocks or other objects in the shallow water.

Visit the nearby Theodore Roosevelt State Natural Area, 8 miles west of Fort Macon. This area with extensive maritime forests and freshwater ponds is also the site of the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, an educational facility with a variety of marine exhibits.

Plant life

Like other barrier islands, Fort Macon boasts a line of sand dunes covered with sparse stands of sea oats behind the beach. The park's interior is covered by dense thickets of wax myrtle, eastern redcedar, yaupon and live oak. The regularly flooded marshes along the edge of Bogue Sound are dominated by smooth cordgrass, while the drier upland margins are covered with saltmeadow cordgrass and other grasses and sedges.

Animal life

The muddy bottoms of the marshes along the backside of the island are home to oysters and clams. In the summer, the diamondback terrapin, the only reptile to regularly inhabit estuarine waters along the coast, may be seen in tidal creeks. These rich, regularly flooded estuarine waters are vital to the coastal ecosystem. They supply food for marine organisms and serve as nurseries for economically important fruits of the sea such as crabs, shrimp and other shellfish.

Look for a heron or egret roosting in the cedars, or catch a glimpse of a painted bunting in the thickets around the fort. Fort Macon is a great place for bird-watching in all seasons. In the summer, gulls and terns may be found feeding in the marine waters or resting on the beach. Late summer migration brings flocks of sanderling, dunlin and other species to the beach, and the thickets come alive with warblers, sparrows and other migrants. In the winter, the rocky jetties attract birds more often associated with rocky coasts farther north. Such rarities such as purple sandpipers and common eiders may be spotted feeding along the jetties.