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.
It's not bad, the sites are spacious and level. The staff have been nice and we have had no issues. There is a cool barn and they have live music. They also have a lake, allow fishing and small boats, volleyball court, and some kind of golf course (might be frisbee). We stopped in to see some friends in the area and would return.
Husband and I and 2 dogs stayed July 14-20th. The campsites are well maintained. They have bathrooms and outside showers with warmish water. The ocean is just a few minutes walk over the dunes. Campground was quiet even though it was full. We did have to be careful of sand burrs/prickles. And bugs/mosquitoes. We were prepared for this so we had no issues. We had a fantastic time.
Site 5 in 31 ft long Class C. Level site, plenty of space, good privacy, close to bathrooms (very clean). Park staff friendly and helpful. Good hiking trails and lake was beautiful. Dogs can’t swim in lake but good access to nice creek. Didn’t see any bears, but you do need to keep normal precautions with food. We were also asked to bring the dog water bowls in at night. Can’t wait to go back next year…worth the 10 hour drive.
We loved it. You must have a DOD ID for access. Right on the beach and a C store right there. Nice showers and bathrooms. No service for AT&T or WiFi. Nice and quiet.
We stayed four days, the river was beautiful and the camp site nice. We stayed on the river side of the road and our site was layer out very strangely but it had a nice space for the fire and picnic table, our tent was partially on the asphalt driveway as there was literally no where else to put it. We enjoyed experience there. We had so much fun tubing on the river, there were several people fishing and catching trout. I recommend that if you go that you stay on the inside sites, not the ones by the river. The bathrooms were pretty bad, most days they were out of toilet paper for part of the day, they were not really clean at all. One shower out of four would stay on for 9 seconds and then you had to push the button again, that was a very frustrating shower. The second shower would stay on for more than an hour so the rest of the showers were only slightly warm. Multiple people reported that the one shower was staying on for more than an hour, the camp hosts said they were aware that there was a problem with the timer. All and all the sites are nice, the river is awesome and the bathrooms were not good.
Furthest thing from a resort! This place is plagued with problems that get worse every year. For about 8 years now we have been coming here only due to the location. The location is the absolute only reason our group continues to deal with the massive amount of problems year after year. To start, reservations are always a nightmare. We book sometimes a year out and still have issues with members of our group showing up to check in and finding out they don't have a cabin or room. Have been told multiple times they have no cabins, or they are out of certain ones and a week later had other group members book those cabins. Nobody doing reservations seems to ever have a clue what they are doing and there is always issues. Even times when we make the reservation and actually lock in a cabin number"usually to stay with our group" we have been moved around sometimes to the other side of the park completely cut off from the rest of our group. The cabins themselves are completely outdated, minimally maintained and basically falling apart. I wouldn't really call them cabins, more like an old 1970's single wide. They are all extremely dim lit, which is probably done to ensure you don't notice all of the issues. I don't think any of them have more than a 40 watt bulb installed and you're lucky if any one room has more than a single light source. Don't use the ceiling fans as they will probably fall off if you turn them on high. The rooms are dirty and moldy. Cleaning crews do the minimum, sweep/vacuum and wipe counters. That's about all. Bathrooms are usually moldy from lack of upkeep and usually the exhaust fans don't work. The AC on these units can barely get the rooms down to about 77 degrees in the summer days, if they work at all. Kitchenettes in them usually consist of a somewhat functionally falling apart oven, A dishwasher that sounds like dump truck,$5 coffee machine and toaster, dirty microwave"if functional" and a refrigerator with all of the racks in the door being broken and a freezer with a broken ice maker. They also include the absolute bare minimum Dollar Store bought plates, cups, pots/pans, etc. Wooden porches and decks are usually rotting away and falling apart so don't stand out on them for too long. At least the bathroom towels were clean…. As for this"Resorts" amenities… Let's go down some of the list. Free Internet- Free is the only accurate word. You're free to find it. You lucky if it works. Whomever set this thing up should be shot for incompetence. 90% of the grounds are not covered and the 10% that is is so slow and connection is so flakey.. best to not even bother trying to use it. Pool- The lounge pool is somewhat small and falling apart. Floor is cracked all up, lounge chairs poolside are all junk. The main pool/lazy river- main pool is more for kids and the lazy river is somewhat nice. They have not had pool floats for the river in many years so bring your own. Again the lounge chairs and all junk and falling apart. This year for our trip the pool and lazy river was completely closed. Citing a pipe had broken and only posting a sign on the pool gate that it would be open in two days, then stating is would be closed for a couple weeks. No notice was sent out to guests until a couple days later. Their idea of a solution was to have staff pass out flyers on a golf cart to guests with directions to the beachfront 43 miles away…. Managements excuse was that things like this happen. This again was negligence in regards to maintenance for the pool. Even though they denied any maintenance issues on their part, pipes encased in concrete do not randomly break unless you fail to properly maintain the overall system. As they already have a history of not maintaining anything and just waiting for things to break, this just adds to it. The restaurant food is not worth what you'll pay for it. Especially the breakfast bar which mostly tastes like instant eggs and cardboard. Wait staff at breakfast is usually pretty rude. The general store falls in line with the rest. Outdated, falling apart and dim lit. I worry how many items they have that are years past their expiration dates. I'm sure the ice and beer are the only things that rotate enough to not have to question. An idea on how well this place is run, a guest in lodge had their room fire alarm randomly go off. Front desk was called and supposedly maintenance was sent to fix it as it would not shut off. 6 hours later is was still going off and nobody had shown up. Fontana Village is sub-motel quality, run by bad management with questionable experience running a resort, that is completely un-maintained/un-funded, surviving strictly off of its location.
Decent site to pitch a tent for the night! Bring lots of water.
Hibernia is the lesser know campground on Kerr Lake since it is located more off the popular travel route. There are only a few sites with hookups. Most sites are tent and dry camping. Whether you have water frontage or woods, the sites are large and private. Our waterfront site had its own little beach where we could swim and launch our kayak. When we camped in the woods, the other campers were well spaced. The park staff dropped by every few days just to visit and share information. It was so peaceful. Lots of hiking and biking too. Great place for families since there is so much to do.
Brunswick Beach Camping Resort is easily found - just off highway 17 in Sunset Beach NC. This campground has RV sites, tent sites and even little cabins.
As you pull off the road, it is set far from the road - which we liked! This made for quieter nights without being able to hear passing traffic on the road. You pass by the tobacco field on the right and pull into the campground. This road is very skinny and I had to pull off several times to let a car pass. As I pulled in there was a store immediately to my right where i went in to register.
I could see the swimming pool, volleyball court and horseshoes from just outside the store. As I walked around the store, i noticed the laundry room and a bathroom attached to the back.
I like some of the scenery out back - a bit of water - some trees. Yet there were many RV's and the sites were so close together. Many activities for our kids - yet not one where we would be able to spread out and let them be free without worrying we were disturbing someone.
We had great cell phone service and free wifi while here - so if that is something you are looking for - look no further! The little store sells a bit of everything you might need - and grocery stores are located within a few minutes down the road.
Wishing Well campground is located off Sunset Beach in NC. It is a smaller campground, and much of the shared ground is a storage facility for boats and RV's that are not in use. There are about 10 or 15 RV sites in the loop and the bathhouse is at the back of the loop. Behind the bathhouse are about 10 tent sites, with electricity at most. It was nice that the picnic tables were covered in the back of the property - yet the approach from the road, and the initial entraceway would turn some people away from this campground.
The people (and owners) were very friendly and I did like the privacy that this campground held. It was close enough to easily drive to the beach, without being in the middle of craziness.
The bathhouse - very clean - but dated. The showers were small - changing areas were provided, which was nice. This is a nice campground - and very affordable!
Carolina Beach State Park is located just over the bridge in Carolina Beach NC. It is close to many restaurants and grocery stores, but offers a bit of seclusion with the large trees and overgrown shrubbery between sites.
We enjoy the short hikes at Carolina Beach State Park, and the visitor center! The visitor center has fantastic exhibits of venus fly traps with hands-on activities for the kids, explaining about the different kinds of carnivorous plants that live in the park. We found both pitcher plants and venus fly traps on one of our hikes!
This campground has 2 large loops - with affordable cabins scattered throughout. It is a fairly large campground - almost 100 sites, with bathhouses, showers, spigots and trash through the park. Camping costs around $26 a night for a tent site, or you could reserve one of their cabins (double bed and desk in the front room and bunks, or 2 bunk beds) for $58 - what a steal!!
One of our favorite sites is number 45 - it backs right up to the river - and is slightly elevated, allowing beautiful views (while it isn't raining!). This campground also has a marina - where boats can be rented as well as put in. There are hiking trails, both short and long - the shortest being the venus fly trap trail - where you can see both venus fly traps and pitcher plants. We hiked Sugarloaf - down to the private beach - and hung out for several hours. It was wonderful!
As a ranger for The Dyrt, I get to review items. I reviewed the morsel spork XL while at Carolina Beach with my family. https://morselspork.com/products/morsel-spork
I have had several sporks while hiking the Appalachian Trail, yet this spork exceeds expectations.
First of all, the spork itself is sturdy, but pliable. Secondly, the spatula feature on the side makes it easy to scrape every last bit of food out of your container or food pouch - and on a long hike - we don't want to leave one bite behind! I have used this spork both with standard tupperware containers and also in dehydrated food pouches - and the XL is perfect! Lastly, I dislike getting food on my hand when reaching in a pouch and the length of the spork is perfect! I can get a bite (with either the fork end, or the spoon end) and remove the utensil without getting slimy/sticky food on my hands. I would highly recommend this spork for hiking/camping and my family is planning to use these in our lunches for the upcoming school year!
About 20 minutes from Boone NC, a new parking area and approach trail begin the Profile hike. This parking area has been in the works for years and we were excited to finally see the new bathhouse and extension of the trail.
We parked near the bathhouse and filled out our slip (required of all campers and hikers) before climbing grandfather mountain. Several additional campsites have been added in this area, as well as some being closed due to black bear activity.
We hiked about 3 miles, past the creek, through rhododendron tunnels and through grassy gatherings of stinging nettles. Our son told everyone we passed not to touch them, but that they could eat them!
We made it to the Profile campsite - about a mile from the top, but a great campsite. There are several great trees for hanging hammocks and two good tent pads sites. This site also has bear cables for hanging food and items that the bears would deem interesting. We were only here for half an hour before additional campers joined us. They entered as loud, cursing college students, but changed their language upon seeing our youngest and were very friendly.
We enjoy the campfire pit here best as it is surrounded by rocks that block the wind and make a fire possible at this elevation, but this trip ended in a severe thunderstorm and lots and lots of rain which made that impossible this time. There are no facilities at this campsite - but this is a great intro to backpacking site to use as the hike is reasonable, both in length and elevation.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this campsite, I tested the Mountain House Chicken Noodle Casserole which was delicious!! https://www.mountainhouse.com/m/product/homestyle-chicken-noodle-casserole.html
We most commonly carry our own dehydrated concoctions or more basic meals, but I was pleasantly surprised by both the texture and taste of the Chicken Noodle Casserole. 2 adults and 1 child shared this meal (listed as 3 servings) and were pleasantly satisfied. We rehydrated 2 pouches, but ended up eating the second pouch the next morning. There were lots of vegetables and enough flavor (and salt) to satisfy the post hiking cravings. Our son was especially pleased with this meal, as he said it tasted like chicken pot pie, one of his favorites!
We boiled water at the beginning of our hike so we could refill waterbottles before heading up. We usually hike to the top after setting up camp but with the weather looking chancy, we weren't going to risk hitting the spring. I carried the rehydrating pouch up in my pack and ate about 2 hours later and it was NOT a mushy mess. I added exactly 2 cups of water and it was perfect. I can't stress that enough. I have eaten so many mushy rehydrated meals on the Appalachian Trail, I nearly expect all freeze-dried meals to do the same.
I would strongly recommend this meal, especially if you like chicken pot pie!
- We stayed at site #26 in tents. It was small but all the trees were great since we had to put up tarps for the rain. We were able to set up 2 -4 person tents and 1 large 10 person tent as well as a screened canopy over the picnic table. Plus you can hear the river from our site so that was pretty pleasant =)
- I walked the campground and my personal favorite site was #7. The fire pit and picnic bench are in the front and the tent area is further back near the river. Very large space.
- The drive up goes from road, to dirt, to road. Yes it is very narrow (especially since I drive a Suburban), but just drive slow and be careful on turns and you'll be fine. Any turn I couldn't see around, I honked as a heads up to oncoming traffic (which is a total of like 6 cars).
- Make sure to get firewood/supplies prior to driving up the mountain. It's about a 30 minute drive up and there is no firewood/ice/or any supplies anywhere on the mountain.
- The woman's bathroom had 2 stalls. One large and one small. No soap dispenser, but someone left a hand soap pump which was pretty nice of them. Electric hand dryer. No showers. Sink for your dishes is attached to the restrooms. It got pretty dirty and muddy, but in the morning it was cleaned up.
- We didn't see any wildlife besides 1 squirrel. But there is some massive spiders (look like red daddy long legs) and had a few bees. Lightning bugs were hardly there, but the mosquitoes were hardly there too.
- We walked the closest trail, very muddy. The creek/river was super pretty but it was super cold. Not much scenery on the trail besides the fun wood bridge at the beginning. We ended up driving an hour to the big creek section of the Smokies. We went on the Big Creek Trail which led to Midnight Hole (which is a beautiful swimming hole). Its at another campground that also has white water rafting.
- There is an old church next to the campground that is open and very lovely.
- There's also a look over stop. Its 100% worth stopping at.
- Overall, we enjoyed that everyone at the campground pretty much went to bed around 11pm. The campground seems like its taken care of. Personally I'd rather stay at a campground with a little more adventure (and maybe showers). The campground is very small so it'll only take up to 5 minutes to walk the whole place.
We are new to the RV life style. We traveled to Franklin N.C. A couple weeks ago and stayed at Grear Outdoors RV Resort. We were greeted by gracious hosts who were also the owners. Polly was great explaining the rules and amenities to us. Mike arrived and escorted us to our site and helped us me park. The park was very well organized and maintained as Mike continues to work throughout our entire visit. Questions and concerns were answered immediately. This was our first visit but not our last. 5 Stars!!
This is a well maintained 55+ campground that has a nice ratio of RV campsites and Park Model living. The spacious sites are well shaded and level in a park like setting.
Bear Creek is a super cute campground in a great location. It is close to all the things Asheville has to offer. Only drawback is that the sites are very close together.
The camp site was great. I had a pull thru site that provided more than enough space. Two cars and a camper could easily park in the drive, while a pop-up shelter and a tent also had plenty of space to not feel overly crowded. The swim beach was a half mile hike away through the mountain to sea trail. I opted out of swimming on July 4th due to crowding, but the next day was perfect. Soft sand covered the beach and warm yet comfortable water temperatures allowed for a refreshing dip or just relaxing on a float. The fishing piers were great too. The public access one had a bit of wear, but that didn’t stop a variety of fish from biting. We also watched graceful herons and playful aquatic turtles hunting for there dinner as we fished. The marina looked fabulous, but due to pop up storms we didn’t get to launch our kayaks. The bath houses were reasonably clean for a holiday weekend. Park rangers regularly monitors the site, so we felt very safe. I would recommend this location to anyone who loves adventure.
Great shelter to stay in especially if you are only hiking in for the night. The shelter is three sides with wooden planks to sleep on. There is a composting toilet and bear hooks to hang food/packs from. It is a short hike to Charlies bunion which has great views. The shelter can be quite crowded especially when the thru hikers go through in early spring. There is a spring water source to get water from but be prepared to treat the water. It can be difficult to fit a water bottle under the pipe- recommend you bring a small plastic bag to collect the water in and transfer to the water bottle. Overall great shelter with great view of the sunrise in the morning!
There are two ways to access this campsite and one definitely requires significantly more sweat (that’s the route we took). The backcountry site is located near the far trailhead at Glen Falls located at the end of a forestry road. We hiked in from the trailhead that most people use to access the falls and continued down the trail past the typical turnaround point until you reach the bottom of the valley. The site is on the nicer side for a backcountry campground as it is level and has multiple areas for tents along with a large fire pit surrounded by logs for sitting on. The main advantage of this site over others in the area is that it is located on the inside of a curve in the river so the creek surrounds almost the entire site giving easy access to water and a relaxing sound to help you sleep at night. The hike down from the upper trailhead is relatively steep and involves going down many (many) stairs but is well worth it for the views of Glen Falls. This is a well-traveled and also well cared for route and we saw many other hikers while we were there. However, most people do not make it all the way down to this site so you will most likely find a significant amount of privacy if you plan on camping here. Since it is National Forest you will have no issues with camping just make sure to follow leave no trace practice and keep your fire under control. I would also highly recommend a dip in the cool waters to help with the heat during the middle of the summer. Overall, this is a beautiful secluded campsite very close to Highlands that provides both tranquility and also some strenuous hiking.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products while out adventuring. At this campground, I stayed dry using the Red Ledge Free Rein Jacket. After multiple rainy hikes and wet campground days some of my favorite features are:
- Dryness (obviously): Although it is the main purpose of a raincoat I still want to mention that this design is highly effective at keeping you dry. Not only is the material incredibly water-resistant and all seams are well sealed but it also has a dual closure system in the front to keep every last drop of water away from your body. I also know that this effectiveness will last since my wife has been using a Red Ledge raincoat for many years and only recently did it need a fresh waterproofing treatment. The small touches like a multi-cinching hood and velcro wrist straps make this an incredibly effective raincoat.
- Breathability: Where I am hiking in the south breathability is just as important as waterproofing since the heat will often cause you to become wetter from sweat than anything the rain can do. I found that this raincoat although still being hot was significantly more breathable than others I have used with the same rain protection. It has huge armpit zipper openings and several large mesh pockets that can be opened to increase airflow. The only negative I found was that the sizes for men run slightly smaller than usual so the tightness decreased airflow. However, this can be easily solved by getting a size larger than your usual.
- Color Options: One of the things that often frustrates me about men's hiking clothing and gear is that the colors are typically boring and flat. They stick to dull greens and blues or grays and blacks. But not these raincoats! They come in bright reds and greens and many other color options to fit your individual personality. This was a big plus for me and is important if you want to be seen while hiking in areas that allow hunting or don't want to get lost from your hiking partner in a torrential downpour.
Overall, for the very reasonable price of these raincoats, they are incredibly effective and comfortable and I would highly recommend seriously considering them for your next raincoat purchase.
Rough road in. Too much trash left by previous campers
Didn’t know it was the weekend of the wind surfing competition, rodanthe in general was booked, called the number she was obviously at home but that didn’t stop her from getting up and meeting us there, we got there and it was just beautiful right on the inlet side but you could see the atlantic from there as well, the sunset is amazing, the park was full but it was quiet the duck pond was pretty and it was home to the ducks, the view of the sunset was an hour of beautiful sunset pictures if you every look at a framed picture of a beautiful sunset that how it was at this camp site for a solid hour i love this spot and will forever go there we tent camped the breeze off the inlet made it perfect at night during the day its wide open no trees or shade suggest bringing something to create shade but otherwise beautiful
Area right on the beach first time camping literally 50 feet from the ocean it was an awesome experience but also weird, we got in for free but we drove in 4x4 didn’t want to leave the car so we parked on the outside, the next day we decided to leave and they charged me 30 dollars to get my stuff out i called 2 days prior they said it wasn’t a charge to camp but 30$ for all day beach driving i would stay again for the absolutely beautiful scenery but dealing with the staff will make me ponder
The trees in the area make the area just cooler camped outside not an issue cool in the day chilly at night, trash was taken care of twice a day, bath area were taken care of i like that there were showers and bath rooms were in the same area but were separate being on different sides, staff was nice let us go through find a site and stay, a little pricey but it was a electric site and its a park service camp ground will stay again