Everything You Need to Know About the Rachel Carson Reserve


The Rachel Carson Reserve is one of North Carolina’s most precious natural areas. Not to be missed, it is a stunning example of the state’s pristine wetland habitat. It is home to many species of flora and fauna and a bird-watchers paradise. If enjoying the serenity of nature is in your Emerald Isle vacation plans, the Rachel Carson Reserve is not to be missed!

Before you venture out to explore the Rachel Carson Reserve, make sure you download our complimentary Vacation Guide! It’s full of ideas on more things to experience while you’re here, like amazing restaurants, interesting attractions, and ways to enjoy the beauty and culture of the North Carolina coast. When finished enjoying the reserve, you’ll have no problem deciding on your family’s next awesome excursion! Keep the Vacation Guide handy to ensure a great time during your next trip to the beautiful Emerald Isle!

Enjoy a Day in Nature at the Rachel Carson Reserve

The Rachel Carson Reserve is a 2,315-acre nature preserve located near Beaufort. The main portion of the reserve is a collection of tiny islands that includes Carrot Island, Town Marsh, Bird Shoal, and Horse Island. Middle Marsh is also a part of the reserve but is separated from the reserve by the North River Channel. The whole reserve lies between the Newport and North Rivers.

The mix of fresh and saltwater has resulted in the estuarine environment that is the hallmark of the Rachel Carson Preserve. A unique blend of fish and invertebrates make their homes here. The landscape and ecology of the area are extremely diverse. The reserve includes tidal flats, salt marshes, ocean beaches, sand dunes, and submerged aquatic vegetation, just to name a few.

The Wild Inhabitants of the Rachel Carson Reserve

The Rachel Carson Reserve provides an untouched habitat for many animals and inhabitants of the sea. Over 200 species of birds have been seen at the site, so make sure to bring your binoculars! There are also a variety of other animals present, including river otter, gray fox, marsh rabbit, and raccoon. Look out into the water to see bottlenose dolphins, diamondback terrapins, sea turtles, and a range of other estuarine creatures.

A large band of feral horses also lives on the island. Although they are not native to the land, they have adapted to free life on the islands. The horses are some of the reserve’s most beloved inhabitants. Before you visit, please review this tip sheet for protecting the horses and visitors alike.

Visiting the Rachel Carson Reserve

The Rachel Carson Reserve is accessible by boat or passenger ferry. (Ferry services can be found along the Beaufort waterfront.) When you visit, please note that closed-toed shoes are recommended. Trails cover only certain areas, and there are some places that can become slippery or that have exposed sharp objects, like seashells.

Come Relax at a Luxurious Spinnaker’s Reach Vacation Home

When you’ve exhausted yourself exploring the pristine beauty of the Rachel Carson Reserve, come back to a Spinnaker’s Reach vacation home to relax for the night. Our homes are located just a short drive from the reserve, and central to so many of the amazing things available on Emerald Isle! When you stay in one of our stunning homes, you can be sure that you’ll have all the amenities you need to have a relaxing, fun trip! With so many beautiful rentals to choose from, you can be sure that we have one that’s perfect for you and your family. Contact us today! We’ll be happy to assist you in planning an amazing vacation to Emerald Isle, NC!