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Boating Information

The Dismal Swamp Canal is an alternate route along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW), connecting the Chesapeake Bay with the Albemarle Sound. The AIWW provides pleasure boats with a protected inland channel between Norfolk, Virginia, all the way to Miami, Florida. The Canal is on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic Landmark, noted as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, and has received the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Designation. The Welcome Center is home to a 150’ face dock that provides a rest stop to nearly 2,000 boaters yearly.

Dismal Swamp Canal Boating Tips

Know before you go!

  • Slow and Steady - NO WAKE ZONE

  • Don't follow boats closely - maintain distance between boats when traveling to help minimize taps and bumps

  • Lookout above and below - Stay center of the channel for clearance and depth

  • Inform - note coordinates of any concerns and share with lockmaster, USACE, or DSWC staff

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  • Canal Schedules & Info
    South Mills Lock & Drawbridge | 252-771-5906 | 8:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 1:30 PM, 3:30 PM Dismal Swamp State Park Bridge Schedule | The pedestrian bridge at the state park will open as soon as your vessel approaches or by sounding your horn. The park can also be contacted via Radio Channel 13. The bridge is left in the open position when the park is closed. Dismal Swamp Welcome Center | Provides a 150' face dock that allows tie-up on a first-come, first-serve basis. Boats are allowed to stay overnight and restrooms are open 24 hours a day. Arbuckle's Landing | USACE maintains this small face dock (1 - 2 boats) near the entrance of the Feeder Ditch for overnight tie ups. Deep Creek Lock & Drawbridge | 757-487-0831 | 8:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 1:30 PM, 3:30 PM Elizabeth Dock | Located between the Deep Creek Lock & Drawbridge. This dock is maintained by the City of Chesapeake Parks, Recreation & Tourism and allows boats to stay overnight on a first-come, first-serve basis. Elizabeth City Bridge Schedule | 252-331-6337 | 7:30 AM, 8:30 AM, 4:30 PM, 5:30 PM | Between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM, and after 5:30 PM, this bridge opens on demand.
  • Canal Mileage
    18 miles between Elizabeth City and South Mills 17 miles between Deep Creek Lock and Welcome Center 5 miles between Welcome Center and South Mills lock 22 miles between South Mills and Deep Creek 40.5 miles from Elizabeth City to Deep Creek
  • Canal Transit Time
    3 hours to reach the Welcome Center from Deep Creek 1 hour to reach South Mills Total transit time of the Canal is 4 hours
  • Canal Water Depths
    The canal has a controlled depth of 6 feet.
  • Nautical Weather
    Current 5 day forecast
  • Local Marinas (NC)
    Lamb's Marina - Camden Causeway PH: 252-338-1957 Hattie Creek Marina - Camden Causeway PH: 954-319-5459
  • Canoe & Kayaking Info.
    The Dismal Swamp State Park offers canoe/ kayak rentals for your enjoyment of the canal in NC waters, with access/launch beside the State Park bridge. (Car-top vessels only). Call 252-771-6593 for availability and more information. Visitors visiting U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed properties, including Lake Drummond Reservation, must comply with Virginia State Parks guidelines. Lake Drummond is a beautiful 3,000 acre natural fresh water lake in Virginia in the heart of the Dismal Swamp. Lake Drummond Reservation is located in the heart of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and accessible from the Feeder Ditch approximately 7 miles north of the Welcome Center and 3 miles west from the Canal. This one acre site offers primitive camping, restrooms (seasonal non-potable water) and picnic shelters. This site is managed by the USACE. Lake Drummond Reservation Information The Feeder Ditch is approximately a quarter mile to the south of the Ballahack Road Boat Ramp in Chesapeake, VA. (Chesapeake Parks, Recreation and Tourism maintains and manages this boat ramp and parking lot). The distance from the Canal to the Reservation (campground and spillway) is approximately three miles, and another half mile to the entrance of Lake Drummond. Paddlers/small boats must portage across this small one acre site to pass the spillway. To explore other paddle sites in Northeastern NC, the Albemarle Resource Conservation and Development Council offers paddle trail maps to assist with trails and access points. Visit Albemarle Regional Paddle Trails for additional trail maps and information. Event Information: Paddle for the Border Camden County’s Paddle Trails: Pasquotank River & Sawyers Creek Dismal Swamp Canal Indiantown Creek
  • Boat Access Ramps
    Click here to view North Carolina's Boating Access Area Guide: Access Areas Provide a Free Launch Sawyer's Creek Ramp: US Highway 343 North in Camden County Camden Point: US Highway 343 South in Camden County Lambs Marina: US Highway 158 in Camden County Dog Corner Park and Waterfront Park Ramps: Elizabeth City Waterfront - There are height restrictions at Dog Corner Park The Sawmill Park Ramp: Weeksville To view the multiple page and latest version of the NC Coastal Boating Guide Map, click here. To view the large map version of the NC Boating Guide Map, click here. Visit NC Wildlife Resources Commission for additional information.
  • Fishing on the Canal
    Fishing is allowed in the canal, but not on the Welcome Center/Rest Area property managed by NCDOT. Seek permission for sites located in the Dismal Swamp State Park before casting lines. Fishing along the canal on the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail (in Camden) where public access is available is permissible. A current NC fishing license is required. The canal is a federal waterway with boating traffic and managed by the USACE.
  • USACE Map & USCG Report
    USACE Map Page 1 Page 2 US Coast Guard Navigation Center Local Notice to Mariners (LNM) Weekly Reports - District 5
  • Albemarle Loop
    The North Carolina Albemarle Loop (AL) offers the boating public with an exciting opportunity to cruise and explore the protected waters of the historic Albemarle Sound.
  • Local Outfitters
    Albemarle Guided Fishing Charters: 252-333-6524 Native Girl Kayaking: 252-404-2266
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