Beauty blooms, mysteries unfurl, and the past speaks at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.

On these small wooded grounds lie many stories of families and their struggles that have continued through time, resulting in the creation of a nation and its people. Here, the first infant cries of English colonization in the New World (1584-1590) burst upon the world. These efforts, sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh, ended with the disappearance of 117 men, women and children, including two that were born in the New World. The fate of this “lost colony” remains one of the world’s great mysteries.

Things To Do at Fort Raleigh:

Visitor Center

Hours:  9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Summer Hours:  9:00 AM – 6:30 PM

At the Lindsay Warren Visitor Center, you can acquaint yourself with the stories of Roanoke Island thought exhibits, artifacts and a 17-minute video.

Earthen Fort

Reflect on 429 years of a changed America. A silent witness of time, the small restored fortification is associated with England’s first New World settlement. The trench is a tangible trace of part of the infrastructure that was built during the 1585-1586 time period. Near this fort, archeologists have found evidence of metallurgical activity from the 1585 expedition.

Thomas Hariot Trail

This 20 minute wilderness experience of the island’s natural setting offers a glimpse of what Thomas Hariot and the explorers witnessed during their time here. On the trail, wayside exhibits relate what the English observed of the New World’s natural resources.

Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail (1 ¼ miles one way) leads from the nearby Elizabethan Gardens through the park land to the island’s western edge, offering a viewshed that the native Algonquians enjoyed from their island home.

Picnic tables

The scenic park grounds are excellent for a family picnic! Tables and trash receptacles are located near the visitor center. Whether having a mid-day snack or early evening meal, the facilities are available on a first come, first-served basis.

Ranger Programs and Family Activities

A wide scope of subjects are offered throughout the week that address England’s first colonization efforts in America and other Roanoke Island stories, including the Civil War battle of Roanoke Island, the Freedman’s Colony, and Reginald Fessenden.

Want to see more clues to what happened to the colonists after The Lost Colony performance?
Visit the Fort Raleigh Visitor Center (Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Summer Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:30 PM). A superb audio-visual exhibit in the Elizabethan Room uses silhouetted images of actors from The Lost Colony to interpret the personal stories of those involved in the Raleigh ventures. The main exhibit area is designed to give the feeling of visiting an actual excavation at Fort Raleigh. Many artifacts never displayed in the 1960s exhibits, and some recently found are displayed for easy viewing.