Definitely Not Dismal: a nature tour with a bit of history!

Great Dismal Swamp

TOUR NAME: Definitely Not Dismal: a nature tour with a bit of history

DATE: Monday, January 29, 2024

DEPARTURE LOCATION: Mount Trashmore Park 310 Edwin Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23462

DURATION – approximately 7 hours (ROUND TRIP): 9:00 – 4:00 (ish) Flexible return time/Traffic dependent. 

NOTE: There will be a 1-hour stop for lunch (bring $ for your food and drink) 

PRICE: $90 per person  (a tip for the guide is already included in this fee)

*Important Note: REGISTRATION OPENS on November 15 at 9 am. Please know that the annual Winter Wildlife Festival tickets often sell out within a few hours. It is advised that you purchase tickets right at 9 am!

Register and get your tickets directly from the City of Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation at this link:

DESCRIPTION: If there were a place that was at once, one of the largest peat bogs in North America, the most important wildlife habitats in Mid-Atlantic region, once over 1.28 million acres of wilderness, listed by Audubon Society as a Globally Important Area, designated as an Underground Railroad Network Freedom Site. Would you go? What if it is one of the top three homes for Black Bears in the East, with more than 200 bird species, 334 plants from 100 plant families? How about if this place was where the poet Robert Frost came to commit suicide, or the place George Washington came to drain the swamp? Or just simply join notable visitors including Poe, Wordsworth, Sir Thomas Moore, Madison, Monroe, and Harriett Tubman? Here’s your chance! While much of this tour is on the heated bus, this tour involves some light walking on short wooden boardwalks and a dirt trail. Visit for trip itinerary; be sure to click the green button for important information!

Proposed itinerary (subject to change):

  • Leave from Mount Trashmore 310 Edwin Drive, Virginia Beach for the Great Dismal Swamp. Drive through the former swamp on the way along route 58, White Marsh and Desert Roads. Mr. Allen Carter, a retired Dismal Swamp refuge forester, will offer participants information  about the most common birds, animals, and plant species that inhabit the Dismal Swamp. The guide will discuss the various human influences that have impacted the ecology and integrity of the swamp, and the techniques that managers are currently using to restore the natural environment there. Special efforts to reintroduce the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and control invasive plant and animal species will also be mentioned.
  • Railroad Ditch. Begin exploring on several short trails to see exhibits on marronage. Observe the damage the Swamp has endured from tornadoes and widespread peat fires. Walk boardwalks safely above the Swamp for spotting wildlife and plants.
  • Lake Drummond. Stop and rest on the pier and perhaps have your snack here.
  • Washington Ditch. Wander briefly on trails largely on boardwalks over the Swamp. Imagine the perils of enslaved workers digging by hand in thigh-deep snake-infested muddy water a shallow ditch from Dismal Town to Lake Drummond. Consider the dozens of lumbering operations bringing shingles and lumber out of the wilderness.
  • Jericho Ditch. (if time allows) This ditch was a replacement to Washington Ditch and went from Lake Drummond to the village of Jericho.
  • Return to Mount Trashmore, Virginia Beach.

– Expert pre-planning services
– Air conditioned/heated new vehicle
– Transportation: Departure from: Mount Trashmore 310 Edwin Drive, Virginia Beach > travel to The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge 3100 Desert Road, Suffolk (approximately 45 min ride each direction; total is 1.5 hours total)
– All fees (including gasoline, tolls, permits/admission fee to locations; excluding food/drink)
– Your guided tour includes an expert naturalist guide
–MEET YOUR GUIDE Allen Carter:

– Bring $ for lunch. We will make a one hour stop at a local diner. Since it is a 7 hour tour, we recommend (in addition to lunch) that you pack snacks in your backpack or in an insulated lunchbox – a sandwich, power bars, or something else that is very EASY to snack on while walking outdoors. We will not SIT down to eat due to the colder weather (not picnic temperatures). Some folks might bring a thermos of hot coffee or soup to stay extra warm.  Eating, drinking, chewing gum is not permitted on the bus. Bring water to stay hydrated. Of course, water is allowed on the bus.
– Dress for the weather and trail conditions; warm layers, hat, rain jacket, comfortable walking shoes; air-activated heat packs/inserts for your socks and gloves.
– Your proof of registration from the Winter Wildlife Festival portal
– Printed/signed waiver (If you forget yours we will have one you can sign on the bus, but it saves a lot of time when everyone prints theirs at home and brings it with them.) Here is the link to the required form:

$20 cash if you’d like to purchase a Nature Bus t-shirt (available on board)

Important NOTES  “Know before you go” ~

*We go “light rain” or shine. Please dress for the weather. In the case of light rain, we simply take cover and wait it out. In the case of very heavy rain, extreme wind or temperatures, we will cancel this tour and refund all participants. ALL SALES FINAL/NO REFUNDS for any other reasons, including sickness/covid. In this case, please sell/gift your ticket with someone you know.

*PLEASE: Eating, drinking, chewing gum is not permitted on the bus. Please arrive 15-30 min before departure. Save time at check-in by bringing your signed waiver. No restroom on board the bus; arrive early enough to use the rr at Mount Trashmore before boarding the bus. There is a port-a-potty when we arrive at The Great Dismal Swamp. We cannot wait for latecomers because we must adhere to our planned itinerary. Therefore we must pull away at the exact departure time. We cannot receive telephone/text calls to let us know you are running late because we will driving and using the phone as a GPS.
*ALL OUR TOURS INVOLVE WALKING; GUESTS SHOULD EXPECT VARYING DEGREES OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. There are 3 large steps to climb to enter the bus. We apologize, but there is no room on board to accommodate wheel chairs or walkers. Our tours require participants to be ambulatory and in reasonably good physical health to manage our nature excursions.

COVID SAFETY MEASURES: We care about the health and safety of those participating in our nature experiences. The bus is sanitized between each tour. Feel free to crack open your window if you prefer. Please stay home if you are not feeling well or have a fever. Federal Law no longer “requires” masks be worn on airplanes, trains and buses. Masks are optional.

    • We look forward to seeing you on the tour! Check out all of the 5-star reviews, so you will be super confident that you will have an amazing experience! You can read these reviews at > click the REVIEWS tab or click this link:
  • Please help fill up this tour! Share on your social media and with everyone you know! We need a minimum of 10 seats, maximum of 16 seats for each tour to go. Spread the word! See you soon!
  • If you have any questions, please text/call the owner. Suzanne 757-288-9595


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  •  January 29, 2024
     9:00 am - 4:00 pm