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Fort Macon at Fort Macon State Park
No Lifeguards on Duty Wednesdays and Thursdays   

Fort Macon State Park will not have lifeguards on duty Wednesdays and Thursdays until further notice.  The beach access area will still be open these days, but all swimming will be AT YOUR OWN RISK. 

Park visitors are also reminded that swimming, wading, surfing, and boat/kayak launching is never allowed on the inlet beach near the fort between the large rock jetty and the Coast Guard boundary.

 

 Last updated on: Saturday, May 23, 2020

Status of park facilities as of May 22   

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

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: Friday, May 22, 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
     

 

 

 

History highlights

Early defenses

In the days of small sailing ships, North Carolina inlets and sounds attracted seafarers seeking safe haven. Beaufort was one of the first harbors to be designed as a port of entry during colonial times. Along with this distinction came danger. There was ever-present threat of raids from the sea by hostile nations and pirates such as the infamous Blackbeard.

The need for defense was clearly illustrated when, in 1747, Spanish raiders attacked English colonists at Beaufort, captured the town and held it for several days. British raiders also captured and occupied Beaufort in 1782.

To defend this vulnerable coastal region against future attacks from the sea, plans were developed for the construction of four defensive forts along the eastern seaboard, one of which was to be built at Old Topsail (now Beaufort) Inlet. Construction began in 1756; the fort (Fort Dobbs) was never completed, and the harbor remained defenseless until 1808 when Fort Hampton was built on the tip of Bogue Banks.

Situated about 300 yards east of the present site of Fort Macon, the small brick-masonry fort protected the harbor for more than a decade. It was later deserted and, in 1825, was washed into the inlet by a hurricane.

The 1800s: Construction and Civil War

Construction of the fort that now stands began in 1826. The fort was garrisoned in 1834 and named after U.S. Senator Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina, who procured the funds to build the fort.

A system of stone jetties was constructed in the 1840s to control erosion. This project was initially engineered by Robert E. Lee, who later became a general of the Confederate States Army.

At the start of the Civil War, North Carolina seized Fort Macon. The Confederate force was later attacked in 1862, and the fort fell into Union hands once again. For the duration of the war, the harbor served as a coaling station for Union Navy ships.

Fort Macon was a federal prison from 1867 until 1876, garrisoned during the Spanish-American War and closed in 1903.

The 1900s to present

Congress offered the sale of Fort Macon Military Reservation as surplus federal property in 1923. Establishing a system of state parks, North Carolina purchased Fort Macon for one dollar, making it the second state park in 1924.

Restored by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934 to 1935, the fort was garrisoned for the last time during World War II.

Situated at the eastern end of the 424-acre park, portions of the fort have been restored to appear as they did during the Civil War.