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.
Great location, close enough to visit Asheville and hike the best Pisquah trails. The facilities were really nice, the staff friendly, and the camping lots were well kept and very well spaced. The area was open enough to not feel over crowded. Definitely will visit again.
Absolutely loved this campground. The facilities were great, the lots were of good size, not too close together and well groomed. It isn’t right on the beach, but the dunes are gorgeous and the walk over them is just a hop and a skip. I loved the breeze and the ocean waves at night, absolutely perfect. Will be back again soon!
We stayed at Tranters Creek while we visited Greenville NC for a graduation. The campground was 20-30 minutes from the college so it was an ideal place to stay. There seems to be a lot of permanent type campers set up there and most of the campers seem to be there to fish. The campground itself was clean. The bathrooms were also clean and stocked. Since we were there in early May there wasn't a lot going on but we did stop by the campground yard sale. Overall there doesn't seem to be much to do unless you fish. There is a pier but they don't sell bait at the campground store and you must have a fishing license.
OH! Make sure you adhere to the speed limit!
the dog and i decided to go camping last minute and what’s easier than driving up, parking and sitting up a tent right on the water. roasting vegan hot dogs over the campfire and watching the sunset with the pup in no time.
This area was a place that I went often to deer hunt in the fall. I have never came across another camper/hunter at this location. It is a good location if you are looking for an area that is away from camp grounds and heavy traffic. I never shot a deer here but they are in the area. The area is just SW of Troy, NC down HWY 109/24. On the map below, it is the most western forest area.
Link to Map:
This area was one of my favorite ares for dispersed camping in Uwharrie National Forest while living in North Carolina. The area can be accessed by boat on the Little River, or by hiking in. Me and my friends would always float our kayaks down the river to a place we called "Bird Dog" and camp for the night. If you are looking for a place that has very little traffic, this is the place you want to go! This area would be limited to dispersed camping due to no campsites. It is a National Forest so be mindful of rules and regulations while visiting!
There is a boat ramp where PEKIN ROAD crosses the Little River. PLEASANT GROVE CHURCH ROAD pretty much cuts right through the area on the PDF.
Lazy Days campground is located right off highway 12 in the Outer Banks, located right behind a self-storage unit. It has a handicapped accessible bath house. There were only RV's here when we came in April, with a maximum of between 15-20 sites.
Due to flags and signage, my family would never stay at this campground. We like to check out options for the summer months when we want a beach get-away. This would not be it.
This was my first visit, I plan on going back so I will update as I learn more about this site. There are RV and primativr sites. They are literally right next to each other. The RV sites have power and water hookups, fire pit, and picnic table at each site. The RV sited are also numbered. The primitive sites are not so well kept. They are not clearly marked and no dedicated fire pits. There is a little highway noise pollution, but not terrible. There is a free onsite dumpster. Fires are allowed. I had alcohol one night without any hassle. Showers/restrooms available on site are free. You pay by the day (in cash or check) at the Nature Center (during banking hours Mon-Thurs I believe). Prices are fair ($10 primitive site and $20 RV site). Campsite is riverfront (keep in mind for the bugs). I didn't see or hear much wildlife aside from an owl, a rat snake, and one good sized spider. Campgrounds are pretty clean. There is a large communal fire pit with plenty of seating and little private-ish decks overlooking the river. There is free wifi. Multiple people had their pets with them. Good cell phone reception with Verizon.
This was my first visit, I plan on going back so I will update as I learn more about this site. There are RV and primativr sites. They are literally right next to each other. The RV sites have power and water hookups, fire pit, and picnic table at each site. The RV sited are also numbered. The primitive sites are not so well kept. The are not clearly marked and no dedicated fire pits. There is a little highway noise pollution, but not terrible. There is a free onsite dumpster. Fires are allowed. Showers/restrooms available on site are free. You pay by the day (in cash or check) at the Nature Center (during banking hours Mon-Thurs I believe). Prices are fair. Campsite is riverfront (keep in mind for the bugs). I didn't see or hear much wildlife aside from an owl, a rat snake, and one good sized spider. Campgrounds are pretty clean. There is a large communal fire pit with plenty of seating and little private-ish decks overlooking the river.
Ocracoke was wonderful in so many ways. Huge sites, only sand dunes separating you from the beach. Each night, the crashing surf lulled us to sleep.
The toilets and sinks are in nice, new buildings. Great facilities. The shower stalls, on the other hand, were by themselves, in the middle of each loop. The stalls are not housed in a building, just open in the middle of the field. (Felt like Petticoat Junction, if anyone else is an old time like us.) Water is only cold, we knew that ahead of time. Doors on shower stalls would not lock, and there's nowhere to put your dry clothes, etc.
No shade in the campground, so prepare to create your own.
We loved it and look forward to returning.
Several ferries service the island. On the south side, two paid ones, on the north side, the ferry is free.
Oyster Point Campground is no frills. But vault toilets were well maintained and cleaned.
Campsites are large and spread out. Logs were at each campsite when we arrived, great for firewood or for seating around the campfire.
Campground sits along a body of water, but no water access from any sites. At the entrance to campground there are hiking trails.
Area is remote. Closest shopping was more than 10 miles away.
Host was friendly and personable.
Highly recommend and will return again ourselves.
Very simple and cheap campground. Bugs were bad but a fire and some bug spray will fix that. Clean bathrooms and big (cold-water only) showers. Nice sized camp sites. Plenty of open site options in May. Pretty sunsets. Walking distance beach access from campground and close drive to several other beach locations. Quiet and peaceful trip.
Carolina Beach is a beautiful and peaceful campground, with spacious and private campsites. Sites are easy to locate, easy to access. Plenty of shade and nice fire pits.
Bathrooms haven't been updated in decades. Showers don't offer much privacy, but do offer decent pressure and hot water.
Grocery store is half a mile away.
Loved the small town of Carolina Beach.
Highly recommend, and will return in the future.
Campground has grass RV sites that are pretty level with full hookups, tent camping, a small store with food & supplies. Sites are very close together with a creek running behind them. Only long enough for 30-35ft at the most. Shady a lot of the day. Campground is clean. Owners are very nice. They offer whitewater rafting trips—mine was great—8mi (2-3hrs) down the nantahala river. There is gem mining & a trout farm nearby.
I have been here many times. The cold water showers sound horrible, but after a hot day on the beach they are fantastic. You are allowed to drive on the beach here. That is nice. Dogs are allowed. Last time I went my son caught a sea horse!! Amazing.
I will start the review by saying KOA is not my favorite. That being said. This was nice for the kids. They liked the pool and other activities. It is in the middle of a bunch of farm fields though. Not much nature around if that is what you like.
I have stayed many times in this campground. The tent pads are quite compacted but drain well. In addition to the nearby lake, there is a pool you can take the kids to. This is very dog friendly. Not too much traffic for the kids either. I have seen a rattle snake!!
We had a premium site overlooking the French Broad River and the surrounding valley. Breathtaking. It is a clean campground with very nice hosts. The shower house was dated but clean. The site we stayed in was plenty spacious. The view made it seem gigantic. Proximity to Asheville is great. The hosts provide plenty of information about the town and activities there. We had to tear ourselves away from our camp spot to go to town. This campground is very convenient to great local food and arts as well as the Sierra Nevada Brewery (don’t miss this) and the Biltmore Estate. (also don’t miss) We talk about coming back here again a lot. If you can get a premium site pay the extra. If you can’t, there are spaces you can bring your chairs to and see the view anyway.
We stayed here while visiting friends in Swansboro. We had to pay full hook up prices even though we were just tent camping but that wasn’t a huge deal. The area was kept really clean (bathrooms could use a little TLC) loved the views on the hiking trail which was close to the camping sites. Dog friendly! Our kids loved it. Beaches in driving distance.
I have camped with a large group of friends at site #2 a couple of times, but this weekend, I wanted to camp with just my two boys, and site #5 (the yurt site) was available. This site was new since I had camped here last. It said it slept 6 and the website showed a pic of two beds; I *assumed* there would be four more, since it slept 6.
Long story short, just 2 beds. But the worst part was weeds growing up through the floorboards, ripped screens, doors that wouldn't zip completely, and two (purposeful) holes at the top that surely let in mosquitoes! The boy who slept at ground level is completely bitten up, despite me spraying everyone with bug spray and using my tennis racket-style bug zapper to clear out the yurt before bed.
Our trash can was completely full (I mean, at least there's a trash can, but we could hardly use it). Our fire ring was full of ashes and the grate was jammed down. The previous campers had left us a few jugs of water but also small pieces of trash scattered about. What I'm trying to say was that this site was not maintained between the last visitors and us.
The campground, though, is awesome if you like roughing it. You are allowed, thankfully, to drive to your site, but it's a hike to walk to the running water toilets, and I saw lots of people drive to them. There is a closer pit toilet but I didn't check that out.
The lake is beautiful, shallow, warm, good fishing, fun for everyone! Bullfrogs, peepers, and owls called all night. Dragonflies galore flew about. It's rustic, but relaxing. And the visitor's center has a nice exhibit on the Carolina Bays.
No shade in this campground, but the location is everything! Basically a manicured field with cement pads and hookup poles. Bathhouse is nice and tidy but can be a small hike dependent upon where your site is. Mine was furthest away so we just drove up due to feeling lazy. Beach is close by- short walk and across the street. Lots to see and do in the area within minutes. Ferry ride nearby. (This is not myrtle beach- it’s a typical small NC family type beach). Loved my stay here! Was my first time camping in our popup and it could not have been better. Even saw a deer across from the campground in a field! Note: After reading other reviews, there has to be two areas to camp owned by the military in this location because ours was as described above. (Hubby is retired military. )
Enjoyed a weekend at this campground that had a pond for fishing, pool, rec area with pool table, arcade games, etc. Clean bathhouses. Shady camp spots. There seems to be some full time campers there but their sites are neat and clean, and they all seemed kind. Some roads may be a problem for larger rigs but we had no issues in our popup. It seemed the larger rigs were near the front of the campground where roads were fine. Note: this campground is within a mile of the NC Zoo. The VisitNC.com website touts you can hear elephants, lions, and monkeys from the NC zoo at this campground, but sadly this is not true and was the reason I chose to camp here. (Imagine waking up to these sounds!) Otherwise, we had a very relaxing weekend. Would return if in the area. Note: town is about 10 min away. There is a golden corral with an awesome breakfast buffet if you get lazy one morn and dont want to cook. Happy trails :)
1.2 mile hike each way,in and out site. Plenty of space for large groups and plenty of fallen wood for fires.
The hike has some minor obstacles. Dogs are able to join, be careful near cliffs.
Usually hammock camp here near the cliffs to see the stars. Rumored you can see Brown Mountain lights from the cliffs.
GRAND PRIZE $150 to Gregory Packs
4 RUNNERS UP WIN $50 to Grub Stick