Kayaking at Great Dismal Swamp State Park, North Carolina
Kayaking at Great Dismal Swamp State Park, North Carolina | Photo Credit: Flickr - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District

Over 14,000 acres comprise the dense forest and swamp land of Great Dismal Swamp State Park. The area is known for its abundant wildlife and outdoor adventures. One of the most popular things to do at the park is to paddle the 22-mile long canal!

This state park first opened to the public in 1974, however the history of the park dates back much further. While Native Americans once fished and lived near the swamp region, many Europeans settlers deemed the area unusable. It was not until William Byrd II ventured into the swamp in the 1720s, that it was recognized as an asset to the state.

When George Washington visited the land, he had an idea. He soon founded the Great Dismal Swamp Land Company which sought to harvest timber and drain the swamplands. The 22-mile canal was constructed in 1805 for timber efforts.

The swamp area was also known to be a refuge for escaped slaves. It is estimated that thousands of escaped men, women and children sought freedom and safety in these woods and swamp areas.

When logging efforts ended in the 1970s, the state of North Carolina turned the lands into the state park that is seen today.

Great Dismal Swamp State Park is located at 2294 Highway 17 near South Mills, North Carolina.

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