the dyrt
THE BEST CAMPING IN
North Carolina
950 Reviews 631 Campgrounds

From the shores of Cape Hatteras to the ancient mountains of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, North Carolina is a state that is as beautiful as it is diverse in natural wonders. Whether you fancy a day of surfing in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean or a climb up Mount Mitchell, the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi, there’s an outdoor adventure waiting for you. So grab your bathing suit or your hiking poles (or both!) and find the best camping in North Carolina.

The pristine beauty of North Carolina’s Outer Banks have always drawn vacationers looking for a respite from the hustle and bustle of their daily lives. Fortunately for those that like sleeping under the stars, camping in North Carolina at one of the state’s many beaches is a great way to experience the sun and sand without the expense of a vacation rental. With over 300 miles of coastline, there are dozens of state and private campgrounds to choose from.

If pitching your tent in coastal sand dunes isn’t your cup of tea then pack your bag and head to the mountains of Western North Carolina—a region known throughout the southeast for its abundant opportunities to recreate outdoors. Whether you’re rafting down the Nantahala River that winds through the beautiful and remote Nantahala National Forest or hiking on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, a 1,175 mile footpath that spans the width of North Carolina, you won’t run out of reasons to be outside.

North Carolina has 40 mountains that rise above 6,000 feet (aforementioned Mount Mitchell is the tallest, clocking in at 6,684 feet) and 100 that stand more than 5,000 feet. Camping in the shadows of these peaks is just one thing that makes camping in North Carolina so special. And with 2.1 million acres of public land in the state, finding a campground is as easy as pulling out a map.

Whether it’s saltwater waves, pristine peaks or rushing rivers that excite you, let The Dyrt help you discover the best camping in North Carolina.

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Recent Reviews in North Carolina
Nice park and close to Charlotte.

Campground is part of Carowinds amusement park. Cabins and RV spaces are available. Prices are rather expensive during the season, but reasonable off-season. I've stayed here twice while visiting nearby Charlotte, and was pleased with the facility. RV spaces are a nice size with plenty of grass. Some airplane noise from planes using CLT, but wasn't bothersome. It's a short drive to restaurants and shopping, and very convenient if visiting Charlotte and surrounding cities. Will stay again.

Wow

There is drinking water. No electricity, so if you need to charge your battery, you’ll need to have a generator. The wild life here is so wonderful. If you want to see the elk, you’re going to have to be up early. I use to be in the park at 5 AM with night vision gear, I saw some very nice elk. If you go in the winter, the elk are out eating most of the day. The rut here usually goes on from about Late October through December. I had about 40 rolls of film with just elk.

Urban hiking

This park offers miles of hiking within Raleigh. You would never realize you were in Raleigh. It’s a great escape from traffic and noise a city can bring.

Lifetime of Camping

This camp ground is full of memories for me. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy the lake. Enjoy sitting around a camp fire. Enjoy walking to the bath house in the rain. Enjoy.

GSMNP Remote Island Available by Watercraft

Available by watercraft. Remote Island in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Check - In is available at the Fontana Boat Ramp.

This is two Islands at high water. One at low pond after Labor Day. There are a couple of places to setup tents or hammocks. There are no services

Unimproved tent or hammock site

Double Island Remote Campground Fontana Lake in the Smoky Mountain National Park is available by watercraft only. There are boat ramps in the surrounding area that provide access.

Campground use is via the Check-in Stations, there is one at Fontana Dam Boat ramp.

I have camped there on three occasions. More fun while boating when the water level is up prior to Labor Day. We did see more wildlife including bear when the level was down as they had to travel down to the low level shore.

There is plenty of downed driftwood firewood in the area you have to leave the Island though and forage the shore.

This is a pack it in, pack it out type location. The Rangers typically stop by in the Summer to check your papers. Make sure you have plenty of ice. It's a long way back to Fontana Dam or a local Marina…unless you are in a power boat.

Nice hiking and fishing

Bathhouses are ok, hiking trails are good and has a nice fishing pier. Sites are anywhere from close to plenty of distance apart.

Family friendly lakeside camping

I have camped across the US in tents, camper, or just the back of my truck. I have been a campground host at Ralph Andrews Park for several years. This is one of the best campgrounds that I have ever stayed in. It is small, only 38 campsites. It has a few full RV hookups, 10 or so el/water sites&12 or so primitive. Campground is located on Glenville Lake (aka Thorpe Reservior) which is the highest elevation lake east of the Rocky Mts. The Lake is a TVA lake built in 1941 and is 4 miles long The gates are locked from 10pm until 8am which reduces any drive-through traffic and increases safety. The staff are helpful and friendly and the campground is well maintained.

Amazing

Great atmosphere and was very peaceful. Access to a ton of water activities including kayaks and fishing!

The Little Gem Where the Blacktop Ends

Just a stone’s throw from the bustle of Asheville, yet secluded enough to forget it all, this little gem is conveniently located at the entrance to Pisgah National Forest.

I went camping here on November 2nd, just after half of the campground closes for the off season. Usually starting at $22 per night, after November 1st the prices get cut in half, so I stayed for $11 (hard to beat)! To pay you fill out a permit envelope, tear off the receipt, include your payment and insert it into a mailbox of sorts. Make sure to bring a writing utensil (I forgot one, but luckily my neighbors let me borrow theirs). You then simply place the receipt portion in the provided zip-lock bag on the number post in front of your site. Check-out time is noon.

Each site comes with a gravel platform for your tent, picnic table, bear box, and a fire pit with a grill top. I opted to set up my backpacking tent in the bed of my pickup, but the site was very clean and well maintained. The host made rounds in the evening and the following morning, and was very approachable and informative, and even gave out weather predictions for the coming days to those who asked. The bathroom facilities may be limited in the off-season due to being unheated, but they were open during my stay, and shower facilities are available during the regular season.

I had a blast enjoying the peace and serenity of the woods, smelling the autumn spice of decaying leaves and campfires, and listening to the babbling river that runs through the center of campground. The other occupants were quite mellow, with no unwanted noise or partying (not that it would be a deal breaker, everyone camps a little differently). In the morning I took a stroll through the recreation area and got to see the group sites; everything was pristine and gorgeous in the gleaming yellow sunlight. My pooch also enjoyed the area, and I was grateful for the free bags to pick up after her.

I would recommend this little spot to anyone looking for a quick getaway from the traffic and humdrum of the nearby townships, as well as visitors to the park. Hiking trails, fishing and hunting opportunities, and scenic waterfalls are all nearby, making the location prime. A big chain grocer is also just a 10 minute drive up the road, making it easy to grab last minute items you may have forgotten. I look forward to returning!

Exceptional

Clean. Friendly. Convenient. SO much to do right in the campground. You will be glad you visited Daddy Joes.

Hear the ocean all night - if you can stand the mosquitoes

Pros: this campground has a little more privacy than some of the other Cape Hatteras National Seashore ones. You can hear the ocean all night, and the campground itself is pretty quiet. Showers are free, but water is not heated.

Cons: the amenities are outdated, especially the showers. The mosquitoes are horrible here; in addition to being right by the ocean, the centers of the loops of the campground are grassy fields, and I think that's why there are so many mosquitoes. It was so bad, I couldn't even stay outside to prepare dinner after dark - I had to go into town for a meal.

Given how bad the mosquitoes were, I likely wouldn't stay here again. But it is a very pretty campground.

Camp among the dunes

Pros: You'll hear the ocean waves pretty much all night from all or most sites, and the star viewing is also great here. Showers are free, although they are not heated. I visited in October, and found insects were not really a problem; in another national seashore campground the next night they were, but I think here the lack of grass really helps keep the mosquitoes down. I was able to sit outside at night for a few hours with very few bites. Most areas of the campground have a walk to the beach through the dunes that's less than 1/4 mile long, so you can definitely visit the beach easily while staying here. I was able to hike out to the beach one morning in less than 10 minutes to view the sunrise.

Cons: no real privacy between sites because there are no shade trees. The facilities are pretty outdated, especially the showers. That's it though - I'd camp here again for sure!

Lovely and Charming Diamond-In-The-Rough

If you are looking for a friendly, affordable campground, open all year long, then Lake Leamon Family Campground is for you. There are no bells and whistles, but you won’t miss them when staying in this little diamond-in-the-rough campground. The manager, Pops as he is affectionately called by his employees and long-timers, goes out of his way to accommodate everyone’s needs and may even bend your ear with a story or two during your visit. From the massive 50 amp Class A rigs, to the aged or new 30 amp Class C Motorhomes, travel trailers and conversion vans to the die-hard tenters, there’s a spot for everyone. With a bath house sporting lavatories, showers and a laundry room; an arcade room over looking the lovely lake, fire pits and picnic tables, diving platforms, fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing and the famous Duplin Winery only nine miles away, this little campground is easy on the wallet and a sight for sore eyes when looking for that campsite you’ll want to come back to again and again!

Great place to camp!

Beautiful place! We camped there toward the end of October 2018. Campsites are level and plenty long enough. Bathhouse was extremely clean. Hosts were very friendly and helpful. We camped with 3 other families. It’s a little hilly for kids to ride bikes, but the 6 kids with us managed to have a great time on theirs! We did not take advantage of the swimming area, but I would not hesitate to use it. Great place to launch a boat. Lake was gorgeous! Absolutely the easiest and cleanest dump station we have ever used! Well designed! Close to Willesboro!

Terrible managment. Treats customers like dirt and doesn't care.

First of all, I had been loyal to this location for over twenty years. Dozens of trips there over the years with various friends and family. I have also been loyal to KOA in general and have been to dozens of KOA around the country. This time we arrived for our reservation on October 25th and I had reserved the month prior. I was directed to a cabin that was nothing like what I had booked or paid for. It was extremely inferior with no view, but I had paid a premium for a view. I asked if they were at least refunding part of my payment for the inferior cabin and extreme inconvenience, but the night guard would not let me talk to a manager. He would talk to the manager on the radio but she refused to address the situation. She was extremely rude and refused to adjust me to a lower price for the far inferior cabin and inconvenience. At the time, I felt they should have offered me some discount or adjustment for neglecting to honor my original reservation--especially since they didn't warn me ahead of time. If they had, I would have never wasted my time and money getting there. When I felt uncomfortable paying my original premium price for the the far inferior substitute they offered, she threatened that I had to leave or she'd call the police. I had been a long time customer of over twenty years and was stunned at this terrible customer service and aggressive rudeness. They refused to treat me with any decency and would not take care of the situation. They left me with no place to stay for two very young children after an eight hour drive, and the company still refuses to answer calls or messages. They have been irresponsible and unethical. To be denied my reservation, treated like trash, and refused any adequate adjustment of the price was just stunning. The corporate office does not reply to messages either. They simply have no interest in customer service.

Horrible management. Treats long time customers like trash.

First of all, I had been loyal to this location for over twenty years. Dozens of trips there over the years with various friends and family. I have also been loyal to KOA in general and have been to dozens of KOA around the country. This time we arrived for our reservation on October 25th and I had reserved the month prior. I was directed to a cabin that was nothing like what I had booked or paid for. It was extremely inferior with no view, but I had paid a premium for a view. I asked if they were at least refunding part of my payment for the inferior cabin and extreme inconvenience, but the night guard would not let me talk to a manager. He would talk to the manager on the radio but she refused to address the situation. She was extremely rude and refused to adjust me to a lower price for the far inferior cabin and inconvenience. At the time, I felt they should have offered me some discount or adjustment for neglecting to honor my original reservation--especially since they didn't warn me ahead of time. If they had, I would have never wasted my time and money getting there. When I felt uncomfortable paying my original premium price for the the far inferior substitute they offered, she threatened that I had to leave or she'd call the police. I had been a long time customer of over twenty years and was stunned at this terrible customer service and aggressive rudeness. They refused to treat me with any decency and would not take care of the situation. They left me with no place to stay for two very young children after an eight hour drive, and the company still refuses to answer calls or messages. They have been irresponsible and unethical. To be denied my reservation, treated like trash, and refused any adequate adjustment of the price was just stunning. The corporate office does not reply to messages either. They simply have no interest in customer service.

Camp Driftwood

I found this campground through airbnb. They have tent camping as well as two cottages. The cottages are titled "Paddlers Paradise- Camp Driftwood Cottage" and have cable TV, a laptop friendly work space, heating, air conditioning, and a private entrance. The tent camping sites are titled "Camp Site- Camp Driftwood" and have fire rings, picnic tables, and access to a shared bathhouse and common area. Both of these have free parking and are located right on the French Broad River. The water is easily accessible and tubing is frequently seen along the bank. The entrance to the area is directly off the road, but has a VERY steep decline immediately following. Be cautious in driving too far up the bank as the path becomes soft, especially after a good rain. Overall, a small and personable camping option that is worth a visit!

Carolina Beach State Park Campground

This park has a few different sections to it that should be mentioned. There is a marina where you can dock or launch boats. I've used this area for small crafts as well, such as a kayak. It's a beautiful area for a paddle. There are also picnic areas and miles of hiking trails. There are multiple trails that will lead you to lakes, marsh, sand dunes, Venus flytrap gardens, and beautiful views across the water (see image below). There is an information office at the entrance, but the camping check-in is by the marina. There is also a general store with all sorts of things you may need for an overnight adventure. The campsites offer bathhouses (toilets and showers) for the tent and RV camping. There are also primitive sites for group camping. While all of this is located within walking distance of each other, the park itself is located right around the corner from a grocery store and other convenient amenities of civilization. It is a short drive (maybe 5-10 minutes) from the beach, and maybe 20 from the NC Aquarium. Check this place out, it's a great spot for a weekend get-away!

Quiet and Private

Another large but empty campground, with 73 campsites and two loops you have lots of spots to choose from. Every site is tent or trailer ready, with picnic tables, campfire ring, tent pads, and the ability to pitch two tents. However, there is no hookups or dumping station at this campground. They do have hot showers, sinks, drinking water, and flush toilets. The sites are not able to be reserved, so it is a first-come-first-serve basis.

The trails here are great, right in the middle of the campground you can hike basically straight up for a mile or so and reach the observation tower which overs amazing 360 degree views. Definitely a must see view.

RV site in a fun area

First off this is really just a campground for RVs and you wouldn’t want to drive in and stay in a tent here. However, for that purpose it is a nice site and located in a great area. Right along the Cullasaja rive you have easy access to swimming and boating or you can drive a mile or two up the road and get to some amazing swimming holes with cliff jumping and natural water slides. The area is really beautiful year round though best in the summer when you can cool off from the hot days by getting in the water. The campground itself has many of the amenities you would want while RV camping such as full hook up and picnic benches for hanging out at. They also promote a family friendly environment that seemed to be very welcoming. Overall, their location right along the river and only a few minutes downstream of the amazing swimming makes this a place well worth checking out.

Recent visit update

Update: Im adding some new photos from a recent visit up to the campground. Since last time I was there the area experienced some pretty terrible fires and some of the trees surrounding the bald have burned down. Just reminds you to be careful with fires in these types of wilderness areas where things can spread quickly. Otherwise site is still an amazing place to stay and the views are just as incredible!

Beautiful Long Hikes

The profile trail is a great hike but it is 3.6 miles of mostly uphill on rugged terrain. Permits are required on this trail. They are free and available at the trailhead. We also visited the swinging bridge which was a very short and windy hike with great views.

Lots of Great Hiking Trails!

This campground is beautiful for fall camping. There are over 10 miles of trails to hike. We also conoed down the creek. The creek is about 2.5 miles long and took us only 2 hours to paddle. The campground was also very clean!

Alongside the trail

After continuing on the trail heading east leaving from Wayah Bald you pass several large open fields which could work for setting up camp and eventually you get to this site which is a little more of an established campsite and is less exposed than the other options. It has a few flat areas that could be used to set up a tent and a small fire pit to keep you warm at night. Like most of the other backpacking sites in the area you wont find any amenities or organized setups but this is really what most people want while doing this kind of trip. There really isn’t any water available near this site so make sure to fill up earlier when you pass some of the smaller seasonal creeks running down the mountain. The trail around her does a lot of winding up and down hills so be prepared for a serious leg workout.

Beautiful site

I stayed at this site while backpacking the Bartram Trail so check out some of my other reviews along the route to get a better idea of how to plan a trip here. In terms of this specific campground it is a primitive backpacking site located along a creek that feeds into Nantahala lake so has easy access to water. When we stayed here we had already been hiking for two full days so I was happy to get the rest and cool my worn out feet off in the river. The area to set up a tent is a little rocky but it works ok if you have a pad and can set up before it gets dark. The views over the lake are well worth it though since you get a beautiful sunset.

Great summmer destination

We really enjoyed our two month stay in the NC mountains. They have a fenced dog run, great creek side sites and old, old, old growth trees at our site. They have many recent upgrades including new concrete pads, upgraded bathrooms and game room. Evidently under new management as they moved the permanent sites taking up all the creek side spots so some of us temp people could enjoy the creek and have a fire. Very calm. There is entertainment booked on some weekends. Great weather!

So Diverse

This place is so beautiful and offers a variety of things to do. My family and I come here all the time to fish in the rivers. They also have a lot of nearby hiking/biking trails for all skill levels. I would give it 10 stars if I could!

Decent

The campgrounds were perfect for a few days and there were enough hiking trails around to keep us busy. Most of the trails were very easy, but the view on top of Stone Mountain was nice. I don’t think it was exceptional but overall was a nice camping trip.