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.
I stayed at this campground in 2013 (3 days) and I have scheduled to go there again for a week in May 2019.This is a KOA and even though I normally am not a fan of KOAs this place is very different. It is small and heavily treed so the campground does NOT look like a parking lot. There seemed to be amble space between sites. There is an awesome gold-bearing creek alongside the camp which is too cool. The place is pet friendly, the owner is awesome, the price is reasonable. There is an acre field for dogs to be off leash and run, you can tube in the creek, they have nice cabins. The bathhouse was older when I was there but from what I understand it has been remodeled in recent years….but I don't go camping to explore the bathrooms so I don't really care about them. This is a great family site and it is fairly quiet, so if you are like me and you camp to GET AWAY from noise and drama, then this is the place!!
A family owned and operated, 11 acre full service, pet friendly camping facility. We are conveniently located just 20 minutes outside the historic town of Murphy North Carolina, at an elevation of 1850 feet, surrounded by mountains! Closer to the natural beauty the area is known for. We are nestled in the center of a peaceful valley with a 360 degree view of the mountains that surround us. The campsites border the many bubbling streams that pass through our valley.
A Full Service Campground, we have 2 separate bath houses with private individual bathing facilities, 3 Bunkhouses as well as Primitive sites. We have a large pavilion for your group meetings, family reunions, fully lighted with electricity available.
We have been camping for years, and hands down Deep Creek is the best. I recommend calling at least 6 months ahead during the summer months to get a creekside spot. The location is just outside Bryson City NC. And offers fine dining and craft brewed beers from the Nantahala Brewing Co. Just 15 minutes from the NOC offering rafting zip lining, and mountain biking. I can't say enough good things about this Campground.
I stayed for 2 nights in the beginning of March. There weren’t many other campers because the forecast called for rain all weekend but ended up only raining for a few hours one night, lucky me! The whole park was pretty quiet, including the trails. There was a nice tent pad with a fire pit and picnic table, and a man came around bringing wood for $5 a bundle if you needed it. We had a quite a few deer passing close by through the night! Was a nice, quiet, relaxing weekend!
Love Hatteras KOA. We stayed here for over 15 years in tents, then eventually worked our way up to the cabins. Now that we are RV owners we are able to stay here in our own camper. Good thing because the nightly prices for cabins became WAY overpriced. The RV sites are getting pricey as well. The proximity to the beach is great. There are no roads to cross so the campground is oceanfront. The pool is really nice and my wife and I feel comfortable with the kids riding their bikes all over the facility. There is a cafe onsite serving breakfast and lunch (dinner too I think). Although I typically use my mobile hot spot, Wifi is available. To top it all off Cape Hatteras National Seashore is one of the most beautiful places in the US. I would give 5 stars if it wasn’t so expensive.
We stayed here on a road trip for a trail race in Brevard in early December. Campground was fairly empty. Site was spacious, with a fire ring and picnic table. Bathroom facilities were great, with free hot showers. Close proximity to Asheville, with its many restaurants and breweries, and very close to the Blue Ridge Parkway as well. We used this as a jumping off point to do some hiking along the blue ridge, with some local beers afterward.
The campground is in the Bent Creek experimental forest, which has some really great trails for mountain biking, hiking, and trail running. We have mountain biked here before and loved it. We didn't check out much of the lake, as it was cold when we were there. Really liked this campground!
We stayed for one night, on a weeknight in early December. The campground was completely deserted (one other camper came in the evening, there were only two of us there!). Most of the campground is shut down during that time. Bathroom was open, with cold water. Water was available at the spouts. Sites are very close together for the most part, typical of most National Park Service car camping campgrounds.
Campground is along a creek, and there were some sites right along the water. Nice little trail across from our site that we explored. You must buy heat treated wood locally (we found some easily in nearby Cherokee).
Campground is close to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, and we had the luck of seeing a heard of Elk in the field at the center on our way in! The road through the park shut down the night we were there due to snow and ice in the higher elevations, so keep weather in mind when visiting in the colder months; if you are planning to drive all the way through the park, you might not be able to. Same goes for the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway, which was still shut down in many areas for clearing after an ice storm a week or two before we got there.
Davidson River is a really nice campground located in the Pisgah National Forest in Brevard. There are several sites that are right along the river. There is a short walking trail within the camgpground, and the Art Loeb trail starts right at the beginning of the campground as well. There are miles and miles of hiking/running and mountain biking trails in the surrounding area, as well as numerous waterfalls. The campground is less than a mile from The Hub bike shop/Pisgah Tavern, a great bike shop offering rentals also, and several breweries are nearby - check out Ecusta and Oskar Blues!
Our site was very spacious. We stayed in Late November/ early December, so there weren't leaves on the trees but the site was still pretty private. There are only 3 loops of the campground open in the off season. The bathroom facility for the loop was open and there were showers (free and hot) and the camp host was very friendly and helpful and had firewood for sale. Campground was very quiet. Very convenient starting point for trail adventures in the area! Campground was quiet in the off season, but definitely not empty.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - I was lucky enough to be able to take an Escape Campervan out on a camping road trip for a trail race that started at this campground.
Escape Campervans have become my favorite way to travel! The vans are small enough to maneuver in cities and to trailheads, and can be parked in a normal parking spot. Click here to see the different models they offer. There is something for everyone! The vans include….
- A kitchen area in the back, with a 2 burner propane stove, sink (5 gallon fresh water tank), and a drawer fridge. Dishes, pots, pans included. Just pull up, hop out, and get cooking! The dometic drawer fridge is fantastic, keeps things super cold and can fit a TON! (way more than it looks).
- Seats inside fold down to a bed. Add a rooftop tent to the top and bring your friends! (or just sleep up top, and don't worry about converting the seats to a bed. Both beds are really comfortable, and the ladder up to the rooftop sleeper is super easy to use. Bedding included (sheets, pillows, and duvet with cover).
- Plenty of extras. You can add on (for additional cost) and e-z up tent/awning, small picnic table, bike rack, rooftop tent, and more.
We have traveled as a couple and a group of four adults, and had an awesome time. The vans fit in anywhere. From boondocking in the wilderness to established campgrounds or RV parks, pull up, park, and have fun!
I really can't recommend Escape Campervans enough. From adventurous singles/couples to small families, they are the BEST way to explore.
For more pictures and a more in-depth tour of the Mavericks version of the van, check out one of my blog posts here: http://adventuresneaker.com/2017/01/04/escape-campervan-review/
We camped around halloween and the entire campground has trick or treating for the kids on Saturdays. Clean, friendly and really great for kids. Would definitely go back.
Our first time here. The staff called ahead of time to coordinate our days better, as we had two different sites scheduled because of overlap. They called again on day of arrival to be sure we were safe and if we needed anything. The check in was seamless and there's a small camp store. The campground is very rustic, but it's clean, well kept, adequate space to maneuver and campers are considerate and quiet. Seems to be several monthly campers here. Sites are easy to access. 30/50 is solid, sewer easy access and water pressure is good. Didn't use cable, so can't speak to that. WiFi is also pretty solid, even at the back of campground. Nice pond with seats and a swing back at primitive sites. Enjoying our stay here and would definitely stay again.
My girlfriend and I camped at Gorges State Park for a few days in October of 2017. The trails are excellent and they were in great condition when we visited. The waterfalls are beautiful and it isn't a very strenuous hike to Rainbow Falls.
Camping seems to be hit or miss. The campsites aren't bad, but during our stay the privy pit was nearly unusable, so we dug our own. The access road to the campsite trail was closed as well, so the hike to the campsite from the parking lot felt closer to 3 miles. Given the lack of amenities and the distance to the Raymond Fisher campgrounds, I'd advise that you snag one of the primitive backcountry sites instead. They are situated along the main trail to Rainbow Falls, and almost every backcountry site was in a nice spot with easy access to the stream. Be aware that many of these backcountry sites are directly adjacent to the trail, and hikers will probably pass by your campsite.
If you are camping, expect bears. I don't know if this is still an issue, but we had a bear messing with our stuff every night. It didn't exactly bother us, but we did have to hang our trash and food far from the campsite while we slept. It made us a little nervous because we were the only campers there and you are miles from your car, but it didn't come close enough to our tent to really frighten us.
That being said, we had an incredible time and would definitely return. Despite being in a state park campground it still felt very secluded, and we felt that all the set backs made it more of an adventure.
We stayed here over the summer and really enjoyed it. It is prime location to downtown chimney rock and lake lure beach/water park. The staff was very nice and accommodating. We had a site that was covered and that was nice to have. We were right on the river so the sound was serene and sight was beautiful. Definitely plan on returning again for another trip.
This place is by far my families favorite. We camp here every year. The campground is beautiful. The sites are clean. They have an amazing playground with an activity center. They always hold events for families. They have everything you could possibly think of. Staff is wonderful. You go long enough and they feel like family. Most highly recommended in western north Carolina. We love this place.
This is a very beautiful campground. Sites are very well kept and clean. Bathrooms were very clean and nice. The staff was amazing and helpful. Prime location to so many amazing places. The pool was nice and clean! Will def. camp here again.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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. Reservation for coming season (2019) now open
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!
Clean. Friendly. Convenient. SO much to do right in the campground. You will be glad you visited Daddy Joes.