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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We have been staying at DeepCreek Campground for years. It's just one mile from the Great Smokey Mountains Park, where you can hike, fish and tube. This campground is just outside Bryson City, NC. Bryson is a great little town, several nice restaurants, Nantahala Brewing Co. and 20 min from the NOC. Highly recommended.
Stayed for a weekend in early March. Beautiful scenery and privacy. The sites were not right on top of each other like you find in many campgrounds which we love. If you love outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and fishing, this is perfect. Bath house and showers were heated and relatively clean. Best part was the owners. They were SO helpful and accommodating. Can’t wait to go back!!
I stayed this past weekend in the Butterfly Patch cabin. The cabin was spotless and comfortable The picnic table, fire pit and park style grill were all well maintained. Owners were friendly and responsive. We were up the hill (steep one) from the bathroom facilities. I'd stay here again.
I have camped in this state park several times, including with the Boy Scouts. Other than the park itself, I really enjoyed the camaraderie when our Scout troop and another Scout troop that was camping were playing“Capture the Flag.” I say all of this because it is a great place for group camping. However, it also has conventional camping and cabins. When I first started camping at Cliffs of the Neuse, it did not have more than a mile of trails. Now it has added some more trails. It also did not have showers or cabins in times past. This park has improved significantly over the years and now has showers that are frequently maintained. One of the things you have to be aware of is that this park is sandy, so when you are camping, you will probably want to put some kind of rug in front of your tent or RV to minimize the amount of sand that you track in. Don’t think choosing another site will move you away from the sand. It won’t. Another thing you have to be aware of is that in eastern North Carolina, fire ants can be a huge problem. Some of the trails are easy, but the Spanish Moss Trail is quite steep in some places. Also, the Galax trail is almost always flooded during the spring or after a series of rains. There is a lake for swimming and a large picnic shelter. On weekends, it is not unusual for there to be lots of people at the picnic shelters, so you will have to reserve them. The sites have picnic tables and fire pits as well. This is a great park for swimming and boating, but the hiking is limited. If I am not mistaken, the total length of trails is fewer three miles. However, the main attraction is the view over the Neuse River and the new visitor’s center. Even with limited trails, it is still a great park for relaxing.
The great thing about this campground is that it offers a peaceful setting no matter whether you are camping in your travel trailer, a tent, or as a group. As a leader of the Boy Scouts and the Royal Rangers, I have camped here many times in large groups. We even had a campout here with about 300 boys. As a group campout, there was lots of room for activities planned by our leaders—paintball, scavenger hunts, and evening campfire services. With that said, one of my latest campouts was just with a group of friends. I think the best fun was fishing, although I really like kayaking on the lake. At this campground, you don’t have to worry about driving in tent stakes if you are camping in a tent. The soil is sandy, and the ground is usually covered with pine straw. When I wanted to build a campfire, there were plenty of sticks and limbs to start and build a campfire. There is a swimming beach, but I would be careful about where I step since there is sometimes goose poop on the sand. You can also rent canoes and pedal boats. There is a hiking trail as well, but make sure you have waterproof shoes if it has recently rained. The trail beside the lake gets really muddy. The price is reasonable, and the staff is friendly. This is a laidback campground in a rural area, so if you are in need of supplies, you’d better bring them with you. The bath house has a concrete floor, but it is well-maintained. I have camped at this campground over a dozen times, and it never gets old. That’s why it’s one of my favorites.
Awesome campground. Our campsite was right on the creek. The site we were at was nice and spacious. The campsite has clean restrooms with showers and a store. WiFi towards the main part of the campground. Att does not work out there but they say Verizon does. Mingo falls about a mile down the road is an awesome waterfall to go see and has a fish hatchery in the other direction.
Booked a tent site and later a cabin as well since we were unsure about the weather. The tent sites were nicely situated and far apart from each other. The vault toilet was very clean. The site is peaceful and since the weather was pretty bad, it was quiet and only a few sites were occupied.
The cabins are new and clean, with AC/heat and electricity and a nice outdoor setup with a grill and fire pit aside each one. They are located in the cleared RV park, not the woods, so don't expect to feel like you are staying in nature if you book a cabin. The shower facilities are very nice too. Overall, cabins are a great option if the weather is bad or you don't want to stay in a tent.
Plan for bugs - ticks and mosquitoes are a given in the summer. Also, the swimming beach is closed as of May 2020.
Was not clearly marked, if at all that these campsites are a 2 mile hike from parking. Would have packed differently had we known! Once we got over the shock and set up, it ended up being one of the most peaceful and scenic sites that I have ever been to. There is no immediate water access but plenty of hiking trails that led to beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes.
My wife and our four kids have had a great time. Plenty of shade and plenty to do. We fished, rode bikes,hiked and saw plenty of wildlife. Not too close to the neighbors, and the camp host were nice. This is not our fist time here and the shower house used to have lots of insects and spiders, this is not the case anymore. The shower house was very clean. We live fairly close so we will be coming back.