Lake Phelps, Creswell

#20 of 22 in Nature in North Carolina Coast
Water Body · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
Lake Phelps is North Carolina's second largest natural lake. It has a surface area of 16600acre, and it is located primarily in Washington County on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula between the Albemarle Sound and the Pamlico Sound. The easternmost part of the lake extends into Tyrrell County. An Indian dugout canoe was found in the lake dating back nearly 4,400 years. Other artifiacts have been found around the area dating as early as 8,000 B.C.
Its origin has long puzzled scientists. Some say that its origin is underground springs, wave action, wind, a meteor, glacial activity or a peat burn. It is more or less a round shape.
Lake Phelps is named for Josiah Phelps, the first white man to enter its waters. Phelps and another colonial explorer, Benjamin Tarkington, were searching through what was then known as the Great Eastern Dismal or Great Alligator Dismal in 1755. Phelps and Tarkington were part of a group of hunters who entered the swamps in search of game and farmland. The group had become discouraged and were about to leave when Tarkington scaled one of the many trees and spotted the lake a short distance away. Phelps went ahead and ran into the water. As the first in the water he was given the honor of naming the lake.
The lake was established as a North Carolina State Lake in 1929, and it is managed by the adjacent Pettigrew State Park.
Lake Phelps is just one of the many highlights you can arrange to see using our , world travel planner Edition.
© OpenMapTiles © OpenStreetMap contributors
Create an itinerary including Lake Phelps

Lake Phelps reviews

Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
17 reviews
  • The lake is the second largest in North Carolina after Lake Mattamuskeet. It is fairly shallow (nine feet at its deepest), and no one has discovered how it stays filled as their are no inlets. But....  more »
  • This is a hidden NC gem! Clean water. Lots of fish. Great for kayaking. The lake is shallow and good for swimming. Use the boat ramp and swimming areas at Pettigrew Park. Be sure to walk the...  more »
  • Build a trip
    Tell us where and when you
    want to go, we will build
    the best sightseeing itinerary
  • Refine it
    You have complete flexibility on your destinations and itinerary
  • Book as a package
    Use our travel agents to get
    package savings and hassle free booking
  • Enjoy your trip!
    Enjoy our 24x7
    on-trip assistance