Fort Raleigh National Historic Site | PARK AT A GLANCE

Artifacts found at the settlement area at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Artifacts found at the settlement area at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site


Located on Roanoke Island, part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site marks the spot of the first English colony in North America, though it was not successful. Three voyages to the New World, financed at the persistence of Sir Walter Raleigh, took place in the 1580s. The first, in 1584, was a voyage for exploration. The second, in 1585, brought soldiers and scientists. The third, in 1587, brought colonists to the area. When supplies began running low and troubles with the Indians were on the rise, the leader of the colony, John White, returned to England for help and supplies. It would be three years before he could finance a return trip. When he arrived, every colonist had vanished without a trace. It is one of America’s greatest mysteries, unsolved to this day.

As far as National Parks go, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is one of the least involving. Nothing remains of the original settlement, though the National Park Service has excavated and reconstructed one earthen fort. The bulk of a visit will be spent at the Visitor Center where a park film and a small museum and other exhibits tell the story of the first colony. There are two trails on the grounds as well.

Though not part of the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, a long running play called The Lost Colony is held every Monday through Saturday night from early June to late August. The outdoor theater is located just outside the park property. For more information, please visit The Lost Colony web site.


The Fort Raleigh National Historic Site Visitor Center is open every day except for Christmas from 9 AM to 5 PM (until 6:30 PM in the summer). The park grounds are open from sunrise to sunset. However, times can change, so before making travel plans always check the National Park Service’s official Fort Raleigh Operating Hours and Seasons web page for the latest schedule.


There is no fee to enter Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. However, within the park grounds are two non-National Park Service attractions that do charge a fee: The Roanoke Island Historical Association (which runs The Lost Colony show) and the Elizabethan Gardens.


Visitor Center
allow 1.5 hours

Earthen Fort
allow 15 minutes

Hiking Trails
allow 2 hours

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Last updated on March 20, 2020
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