The best camping in
North Carolina

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Camping North Carolina

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.

EXPLORE
Recent Reviews in North Carolina
Great Place for Dispersed Camping

I am going to preface this review by saying that giving it five stars, three stars, or one star really depends on what you expect from a campground. It might be five stars if you are looking for a real wilderness getaway. However, it might be a one star if you are looking for modern amenities with electric, water, and sewer hookups. For me personally, I rate it as five stars, but I know that people looking for a campground wonder how it can be five stars when it does not have hookups or Wi-Fi. Of all the designated primitive camping areas I have been to, this one seems to be one of the most popular, and for good reason. The Avery Creek Roadside camping sites have raised gravel pads, sturdy fire rings, and lantern hangers. Most designated primitive areas do not have such“luxury.” To get to the sites, you have to turn onto a gravel national forest road and drive for about half a mile before you get to the first campsite. The road continues for quite a way, and you can find several designated sites along the road. I was surprised that there were quite a few campers since it was in December. It is a good thing there are a lot of campsites. One of the best things about camping in this area is that there is so much to do within a short driving distance. For example, three miles down the road there is one of my favorite waterfalls. It isn’t very tall, but it has a lot of volume and is a beautiful waterfall. Five miles from the campsites, there is Sliding Rock, which opens during the warmer months and is very popular. Nine miles away is the Cradle of Forestry in America, and in my unbiased opinion, I think everybody needs to visit there at least once. The campsite itself provided a pleasant stay. You can hear the creek all night long, and you are at least four or five miles from a town. It doesn’t seem like a long distance, but it is far enough that you don’t hear the sounds of traffic. Fly fishing for trout is a popular activity, as well as hiking. There is an abundance of hiking trails nearby, including the Art Loeb Trail, Avery Creek Trail, Andy Cove Nature Trail, and lots more. The Blue Ridge Parkway is also only twelve and a half miles away. The area is also a popular horseback riding area with stables down the road. Unlike another camping area I had reviewed earlier this year, horse manure did not seem to be a problem. There are no bathrooms, except at the group camping area, which has to be reserved. The only water is from the creek, so be prepared and take lots of water or a water filtration system. Overall, Avery Creek is fantastic if you want to get away from civilization. There are no amenities such as swimming pool, game room, etc., but it is an outstanding place for people who just love the outdoors.

Our Travel Trailer Maiden Voyage

We booked a little late here for our trip so our campsite was near the more residential campers with several just overnighters coming in and out beside us. Huge campground with a nice stream flowing through with ducks and geese and a pond. Lots of walking areas, some paved, most not so it can take a beating on a stroller. Extremely golf cart friendly. Beautiful landscaping and gardens maintained by a sweet lady for the managers/employee housing. Cabins scattered about. Playground doesn’t have a infant swing but is in great working condition. Lots for the kids to do including a small arcade. Staff overall were nice and accommodating. Easily accessible to grocery stores and a few restaurants. Laundry area is well maintained and sufficient. They even have rolling baskets to transport wet clothes to dryer and a waiting area if you wanted to read or book adventures while you wait. We traveled here in early fall/late summer (after Labor Day). Had we known the pool was still open, we would’ve taken advantage of that as well of course weather dependent.

Miles above the rest!

Well, one mile above the rest. Such a sight to see. Check your tour cd to verify it works before driving away from the gate. It is helpful as you drive through and not all function correctly. Plenty of hiking trails but some close in the winter months. Picnic and play areas. Educational spots for the little ones. Breathtaking views.

Great layover

Pull through spots that make overnight, or even a couple day, stays very easy. Full hook ups. Clean. Even though just off the highway, very quiet. Easy access to amenities and provisions if required, or preferred. Affordable.

GREAT GET AWAY

Located between Wanchese and Manteo, this little RV park is a quiet getaway. Turning into the property you will find all of the grounds very clean and well maintained. Each site has full connections along with a picnic table. A number of sites back up to the water where one can enjoy fishing for flounder or blue crab. Or just enjoy a nice walk around the shoreline and along the piers. The touristy spots are 15-20 minutes away providing an opportunity to enjoy some seclusion. A well maintained pool is onsite as well a pavilion for some larger group get togethers. A bath house with very clean facilities. A place to do your own laundry. A convenience store is next door as well as a hardware store however you almost would never realize it as it is never noisy or distracting. If you are looking for a place along the coast for a break from the road, or a week of quiet, you will not be disappointed here.

Seriously let go......& sad

One of these days, A 0 stars rating is critical to the overall scoring process. Honey Bear should be thankful for the scoring process because the single star at least gives some advantage to the overall score. Let me begin by saying that the pictures do not match the grounds. Well, one of them may match hit the rest are seriously filtered. Turning into the grounds from the main road, there is a series of make-shift goat pens made from old wooden pallets. Each standing on its end and side-by-side attached however but not well enough for the one escape artist who is actually one of the better sites you will enjoy during your stay! To the right, an empty (seemingly also abandoned) commercial building that houses empty office locations. The old sign team still stands with no signage but one fluorescent bulb still burns at night. Further ahead, on the left are two open roll off dumpsters for trash. If that is not cause for rodents and other vermin, nothing is. Beyond those are travel trailers that others are being stored. The office is nothing near as clean as you are going to expect. The coffee house is closed but the only way you will know that is if you follow them on Facebook. Hope you have Facebook. The bathhouse and laundry facilities are also closed. We reserved a double site. One hour prior to arrival, we received a call regarding being transferred to a different site. When we arrived to the site, it was a small site and not what we paid for. I spoke to Marsha and indicated that we wanted a different location. We were supposed to be in B section however due to below freezing temperatures, we were moved to A section where they have a few frost free water connections. We paid and we are here! Let's make the best of it. Once set up and stabilized, we plugged i to the power connection which shorted out our power cord and our unit receptacle. Because she has no maintenance personnel, I had to test the power supply myself which determined that all three legs were hot. Serious problem especially when the temperature was 29°. I called to let her know what was going on and she did not have a solution. Our options were dependent on whether or not the grounds keeper was still on site. It is now after 8:00 pm. On Sunday. We had enough battery power for basic functions and enough gas for heat so we did it old school. Monday, we headed straight to a dealer to purchase a new cord as well as the receptacle. I called at 12:02 pm to verify if the supply had been repaired but was told that she was not at the office yet because she does not come in until noon and was unsure of the grounds keeper was there. I said it is after noon but no response given. It was after 1:00 pm before the supply connection was replaced and once we had our work completed, we were back in business. I hope you know some handyman basics because you are going to need them. Not once did she follow up to make sure our stay was going better. Not once did she offer to make good on anything. I spent my first two days of vacation working because Marsha does not work at all when it comes to maintaining the grounds, water, power and such. I will be furthering this with appropriate sites, social media outlets and local bureaus/chambers.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS LOCATION!

Very clean

This camp ground was super clean and very well taken care of. The women on the camp ground was wonderful, we had gotten there after dark because of thanksgiving traffic and she waited up for us to get our site. The only reason I’m giving it a four star instead of five is because we like to tent camp and over the tent grounds there was a bright light that wouldn’t turn off. Definitely more of an RV place but still very nice.

Great location

Clean camp grounds, could use additional shower. Overall great experience.

Great location

Clean camp grounds, could use additional shower. Overall great experience.

Flynn Family Fun

Jordan Lake is a all around Great place to take the family for a weekend getaway or a 2 week adventure.  We the Flynn Family  are always looking for a family getaway and found Jordan lake to be perfect.  Or stay at Popular Point was really nice.  Camp site was a drive through and gave us enough room to spread out a little was  with in view of the water and close to the restrooms. We highly recommend spending family time together at Jordan Lake

Favorite Campground Yet💛

Visited for just one night in mid-August and absolutely loved it. Stayed at T1, which you can’t pull your car up to, but we were able to park a couple hundred feet away. The views are incredible, we were literally in the clouds. I highly recommend this spot. Also lots of butterflies in the area if that’s your thing 🦋

Breathtaking views on top of Grandfather Mountain.

I loved the area we stayed at in Grandfather Mountain Campground. I've been multiple times throughout the summers and have always enjoyed staying at one of the campsites right by the river. The campsite is always clean and friendly staff are there ready to answer questions on where to hike, eat and about the wildlife that's in this area of Western North Carolina. If you're lucky enough to catch one of the beautiful sunsets, I would recommend sitting in the grassy field (also on option to camp there) and take in the mountains laced with purples and pinks as the sun sets. And of course you'll have to hike grandfather mountain and walk across the swinging bridge. I finally went this last trip and was not disappointed! There is an intense hike that included climbing up latters and leads to beautiful views!

This campground is also close to Boone, NC. It is a cute little town that has a sweet downtown area to walk around in and grab a beer. If you like breakfast food I would highly recommend trying Melanie's. There food is to die for, and also very earth conscious.

What a great place to camp!

This is a great park! The staff are all nice and friendly, and the park is very well laid out and clean. You got full hookups, nice level sites, and two playgrounds. This place is full on the weekends so reserve in advance.

Also, the Mt. Airy town is nice to visit. You are close to all the amenities when staying here. Check out the Andy Griffith museum, Main Street, and the granite quarry.

Wonderful !

Had a great time! Some of the sites are right on the water allowing for camping and kayaking. Sites are large to accommodate two tents and two vehicles nicely. Bathrooms are what you would expect but clean. Some sites further back (not water side) have trees for hammocking. The trees near my site (122) did not have adequate trees for hammocking. I will absolutely be back.

(The only thing you will contend with is occasional air traffic noise from RDU. If you’re sensitive consider bringing earplugs for your comfort.)

Perfect Spot

Great spot lots of trails and primitive at its best.

Very Pleased

Was very easy getting in and out of this campsite. The view was nice and you’re literally inches from the river. It was 30F when we stayed but I would love to return in the warmer months and get in the river or kayak.

We booked via Airbnb and the owner was very helpful and friendly.

Great Location Overall

Incredible spot that we will return to for sure.

We drove about 10 miles down NC105 to find a good spot that was available. Be sure to have 4WD (preferably a off-roading vehicle) to make it up some parts of the road.

The spot was massive and could easily fit 5+ vehicles and sleep 20 comfortably. The view was nice and we were able to see Lake James in the distance (due to being far down the trail).

First photo is at night, second is in the morning, third is a pull off further down the trail on the way to the exit.

Woke up in the morning to hunting dogs barking and a few gunshots. This didn’t bother us however but it’s something to note incase it would impact you.

Great sound views.

First time staying here in early November and what a nice campground. Reserved a site but when I pulled up to my spot it was all muddy and rutted up. Back up to the office I went and she said to pick any of the sites but the ones already reserved. Clean bathrooms. Hot showers. Cool tent sites in the trees. One thing I will say is I didn’t expect the mosquitos to be this bad in November. They are a different breed than what we have back home. Other than that just a normal good campground with added features to make your stay great. Would stay again but next time to try the cabins.

Pretty awesome spot

We didn’t have reservations and got to the area later than planned, so we were lucky to get the last spot at this campground. The view of the river here is amazing. We camped right on the edge of the river and the sound of it rushing was so peaceful.

The facilities were immaculate. We didn’t use the laundry room or the game room but as far as I could tell they were also very clean.

The only drawbacks are how close the sites are to the edge of the river. There was very little space between the fire ring and the river’s edge; so little we couldn’t walk all the way around the fire ring. Also, some sites have a small fire rings that leave a lot to be desired. It would have also been nice to have access to a permanent grill.

It's rustic

A very quiet campground that does allow you to have a fire in your campsite. There is wood for sale. The bathhouse is very nice. The views from most of the sites are breathtaking.

Back to Nature

Dirt site by the River all hook ups. They also have small cabins and tent sites. Walking distance to trails and town. Spa with hot spring hot tubs across the street.

Great Campground for RVs and Great Views for Tents

I had wanted to stay at this campground for several years, and I finally got the opportunity to do so. It looked inviting every time I passed by it. When I looked on the website, it showed tent sites, but most of the sites are for RVs. I was surprised to see that the best sites are along Jonathan Creek. These do not have water or electricity, but that didn’t matter to me. There are tent sites that have water and electricity, but they are behind the office, which is part of the main building. I am guessing that there are well over 100 RV sites. Most sites(if not all) have water, electricity, and sewer hookups. There are not many tangible amenities; there is no pool or playground, basketball court, etc. However, this campground is all about location. Not too far from the campground is Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hemphill Bald(mountain and trail), the Cataloochee Divide Trail, and the natural beauty of the mountains. There is also Jonathan Creek, which is known for trout fishing. The tent sites along the creek are beautifully arranged in a line with enough space not to be crowded. Unfortunately, most of them do not have fire rings, but I found one at T5 that did have. I am guessing that the picnic tables at the entrance to the tent sites are for the tents since only one or two tent sites had picnic tables and it is close to the end of the season. My favorite part about the tent sites is that you can sit facing the creek and look at the mountains in the background, although you will see a few houses in the mountains. Another advantage of the tent sites by the creek is that you hear the creek all night long, which drowns out any road noise. This campground is privately owned and not part of a franchise. It is good to see that they still welcome tent campers.

RV Camping Conveniently Located near Greensboro

On my way to Virginia from western North Carolina, I decided to stop here. It makes the eight hour trip less tiresome if you can break it up. It is convenient since it is along the interstate. However, staying in one of the cabins at this KOA in Greensboro requires a minimum two-night stay, and they run about$100 a night. The person in the office was really nice and informative, but I think KOA is trying to discourage tent campers. She told me that since it had been raining, the ground was saturated and tent campers don’t like all the noise from the road; and she is 100% correct. Nevertheless, a tent site was my best option. The tent sites are sloped and very small. There is very little privacy since the sites are just about on top of each other. Don’t get me wrong; there are good things about this KOA… for RV campers and RV campers with children. The RV sites are spacious and mostly level with electric, water, and sewer hookups. The cabins are really nice(this being based on staying in a KOA cabin in the past and the exterior looks, which have been updated since I last stayed in one). The children will love the caboose/play area, and there is a large pool, which was actually open. There is also a fenced dog walk and another playground for children. The main bath house is located at the end of the office, and there is another bath house which was closed due to repair(?). Perhaps I’m being a little too harsh since it had poured rain for two days, but being on a small, unlevel, tent site with saturated ground is not my favorite way to camp. There were only brief minutes to take any photos since it was constantly raining. With all this said, if you want an alternative to staying at a motel/hotel/inn in Greensboro to experience the numerous things the city has to offer, this is a good choice for RV campers or for those who want to stay in a cabin.

Campground Close to Smokies and Blue Ridge Parkway with Great Views

This campground is about views. It doesn’t have water or electric hookups. It doesn’t have sewer hookups. It doesn’t have a swimming pool, playground equipment, an entertainment pavilion, or any of the other things many campgrounds and RV resorts have. The biggest attraction for Mile High Campgound is the view, but I guess I should say views(plural). The campground is adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but there is a long approach road to lessen any traffic noise—not that there would be any anyway. It seems to be situated on a ridge, so it offers different views in several directions. The host was nice and suggested that I pick a site before paying. I camped during the week and when it was cold, so I had a good choice of sites. She highlighted the available ones with the best views, and it was difficult to decide which one I liked best. I chose one with a view of a sunset rather than one with a sunrise, knowing I might not get up early enough to catch the sun rise. You can expect it to be at least ten degrees(or more) colder than down in the valleys. There is a reason it is called“Mile High.” This is a primitive campground, and there are no hookups that I know of. There is, however, a bath house with flush toilets and showers. The bath house is a bit rustic, but it serves the purpose. Some people might not like that it has a concrete floor and just one stand up sink, but again, it serves its purpose. There are also“toilet facilities” at opposite ends of the campground since it is a long, narrow campground. Since I forgot to take any firewood, I bought a bundle of kindling for$5.00. I knew I wouldn’t have a long fire anyway. As I mentioned earlier, there are no modern amenities like a swimming pool, playground, or recreation hall. Did I mention that this campground is all about the views? There is a platform for viewing the sunsets close to the camp office. The campground is within a short driving distance of several waterfalls, places to view elk, Harrah’s casino, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so sticking around the campground all day is not something you probably want to do. The towns of Maggie Valley and Cherokee are close, so if you like shopping, those towns have several quaint shops and other attractions. Overall, this campground is a pleasant campground to stay in because of the peace and quiet and the beauty.

Amazing sunset views from the top of a mountain!

This place was absolutely amazing. We loved our time here! It’s on top of a mountain and there are amazing sunset views. We spotted this place online before we decided to buy an RV and it definitely lived up to our high expectations. There are premium sites and deluxe sites. The premium sites have an amazing view right from their sites. The deluxe ones still have nice views, but not quite like the deluxe ones. However, there is a common area where you can go that has the best view of all! That’s where we watched the sunset every night and it was fun getting to know the other campers. We saw a black bear and turkeys in the campground too! The staff is super helpful. Each site has a trash can so you do not have to worry about making dumpster runs. Be sure not to get there early- the one way road going up to the campground is steep and I’m not quite sure what would happen if you met another RV!

A relaxing lakeside atmosphere

Uwharrie National Forest-Badin Lake Campground, New London, NC.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc/recarea/?recid=48934 

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5368418.pdf

Campground Overview: 34 sites, two loops…upper loop and lakeside loop. Relatively large sites with vegetation that blocks constant view of neighbors. 

Each site has a gravel parking pad and separate gravel tent pad, a standing charcoal grill, firepit with adjustable grate, a picnic table and a metal pole for hanging lanterns, etc. I would advise securing online reservations, but they do have an Iron Ranger to drop your payment in should you find an empty site. Note: There are warnings that online reservations take precedence, so if you use the Iron Ranger payment drop chute and someone reserved the same campsite…you will be required to move to a different location when the online reservation campers arrive. Just so you know.

No electric. 

Oddly, no firewood for sale…although scrounging produced plenty of things and fallen branches to keep a fire going.

I preferred the lower loop as nearly every outer site was on the lake with great views and lake access and sites are spread out. The inside sites of the lower loop are pretty spacious and deep. Water spigots were spaced out around the loop, so a short walk as we were equal distance between two. 

Restroom/showerhouses were quad door buildings. Separate men’s and women’s restrooms and two separate shower rooms. Facilities were kept clean and stocked by resident hosts. 

With Verizon, I never lost signal…a plus for a National Forest!

The upper loop appeared to offer a little more solitude than the lower lake loop…but no lake views. 

The lake loop trail crosses the main campground roadway between the two loops. This trail is relatively flat and meanders around the lake and it’s many fingers…offering lovely lake views and some nice fishing locations. 

During my midweek visit it was quiet day and night. The sunset across the lake was gorgeous and relaxing. Loud powerboat noise was minimal as only a couple bass boats thought it essential to travel at high speeds from location to location. Next visit my canoe and mountain one will accompany me. 

What I enjoyed: as much as I dislike tree rats, I was entertained by two feuding squirrels that chased each other relentlessly and knocking each other out of tree tops. Woodpecker and Turkey wake up calls. 

For a National Forest, I was surprised by the level of daytime industrial noise nearby. 

Overall, a fantastic location relatively close to Raleigh/Durham and Fayetteville for a great camping getaway. I was only able to stay one night as the campground was booked, all reserved in advance. So plan ahead.

Offroader's Paradise

Uwharrie National Forest-Arrowhead Campground

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc/recarea/?recid=48934 

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5368418.pdf 

Uwharrie National Forest is fairly vast, but several camping areas are located in one general area. Equestrian campgrounds, hunting camps and then Arrowhead and Badin Lake campgrounds, along with the boat launch area. Arrowhead Campground has had a bigger budget compared to its lesser sibling Badin Lake Campground. 

Campground roadways are paved, as well as the campsite parking pads, The restrooms are newer, larger and offer paved parking for users. 

Sites are reasonably large and offer a picnic table, firepit, charcoal grill and metal hanging pole for lanterns, etc. some foliage exists between Campsites, but you still have a visual of your neighbors. 

It appeared during my visit that most users were off-roaders with either 4x4’s or quads. The onsite host advised that it is very popular with the off-road enthusiasts. Enclosed and flatbed trailers filled most of the sites. 

Caution: During hunting season, the National Forest is open to hunters…wear brightly colored or hunter orange clothing especially dawn and dusk.

Reserve well in advance if you desire a site…these campgrounds fill quickly. 

Arrowhead also offers an inner-campground paved walk/bike/stroller trail…and the drive down to the boat launch(which has a fairly sizable paved parking lot and latrines). You can also pick up the lake loop trail by the Boat Ramp.

Being located so closely to the Raleigh/Durham area…and the Fayettville area…I can see this being filled to capacity most days and definitely weekends. Mid-week it was filled.

Conveniently located for all things outdoors

Smokemont Campground-Blue Ridge Parkway, Cherokee, NC-

-site 25($25 nightly). 

https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/232486 

Nestled in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park at 2200 feet, close to crystal clear mountain streams, great hiking, and right down the Ridgeway from Clingman’s Dome. 

There are far too many outdoor activities to list that are a short drive away. So the location is prime.

(Disclaimer: My perspective comes from a tent camper that prefers privacy and solitude…so take my ramblings with a grain of salt…and I ordinarily fly by the seat of my pants without reservations). 

Even during the week in late October, there were only four available sites left right near the entrance. Campground Rangers in the office and walking the grounds were very friendly and helpful. All sites are line of sight…and though at capacity, campers were politely quiet. 

Tent sites have a gravel pad that you must utilize…firepit and picnic table. An all non-electric, non-generator campground. You won’t get cell service either…you must travel to the nearby visitor center for that convenience. 

Bathrooms are modern, no showers. 

Water is available throughout the campground. 

The park’s visitor center, roughly a mile down the road usually have local herd of elk grazing in the adjacent fields where tourist stop to take photos. A few gobblers joined the elk during my visit. Warning signs and Rangers on foot, keep photographers from encroaching onto the fields…but the visitor center parking lot is usually filled and vehicles are parked along both side of the roadway. 

Clingman’s Dome is a highlight. Realize that though you get to drive most of the way up the mountain, you must still walk from the parking lot to the summit and up the ramp for the birds eye 360 view.(**Pit latrines are in the parking lot only…not in the tiny visitor center, nor at the summit) Note: while the walkway to the summit is paved, it has a fairly steep pitch. Tip: earlier in the day has fewer clouds, afternoon tends to see more view-obscuring cloud cover. The wind is strong and several degrees cooler than the parking lot.

 Final Thoughts: Smokemont Campground is a quiet, comfortable, conveniently located campground for short stays in a wonderful setting…but realize it is extremely popular and fills up nightly.

Basic Trail Shelter for Overnights on the Way to Appalachian Trail

This is the second time I have been to Kephart Prong Shelter. The first time was over thirty years ago, and it seemed dreary. This time, however, was a much better experience. To stay here, you have to get a permit from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park since it is within the park boundaries. To get to the shelter, you have to hike two miles starting from Hwy. 441 through the national park between Cherokee and Gatlinburg. The trail is not as steep as some trails, but it is rocky! It is so rocky that my trail shoes didn't quite seem adequate… because the trail was rocky. It was rocky all the way after the first of four foot bridges. After the first footbridge it became"rockier." Large rocks, small rocks, medium sized rocks. It was rocky. Did I mention that the trail was rocky? BTW, I finally decided to take a break at the fourth foot bridge because my feet hurt from the rocky trail. Once you get to the shelter, the trail continues up to the Appalachian Trail. In my opinion, the main reasons for staying at this shelter are(1) that it is on the way to the AT, or(2) you just want to get into the woods for a night. The“bathroom” is a short trek into the woods to the seventh big tree on the left. You have to hoist your food up at night via one of two cable systems. Otherwise, you risk of your food being taken by mice/rats, bears, or other critters. The only water source is from the creek, which is a pleasant sound at night while you’re sleeping. Make sure to take a good inflatable pad. You can take a closed cell foam pad, but they don’t provide a whole lot of cushion on a wood platform. Overall, Kephart Trail shelter is good for a night’s sleep, but I have been to better shelters.

RV Resort Close to Great Smoky Mountains, Elk, and More

The first time I came here decades ago, I stayed in a tent. The second time, I stayed in one of the cabins. This time, it was a whole different experience. This campground has transformed, like many campgrounds, into more of an RV resort. Not having to walk to the bath house in the middle of the night was a welcome relief, but RV camping is not my favorite way to“camp.” Primarily a tent camper, I am not used to being shoulder length from my neighbor at the campground. However, this campground/RV resort is a great destination campground for RVers. It has all the amenities you could want—a swimming pool, basketball court, open pavilion; and some people were even playing corn hole under one of the pavilions. A great thing about this campground is that you get a sense of“community” here since some of the campers stay here for six months out of the year. Besides the aforementioned amenities, there are at least two areas for children to play that have swings, slides, etc., and there are horseshoe pits for older“children.” Trout fishing is a popular activity in this area, and with the adjacent creek being stocked on a regular basis, visitors often come away with some prize catches. I have seen more than one fisherman coming away with three or more trout. The campground is along Jonathan Creek, so if you are lucky enough to get a spot along the creek, the sounds are very relaxing. Where we were, we heard lots of road noise during the day, and since this area is a destination for bikers, we heard lots of motorcycles. Fortunately, staying in a camper, the road noise is somewhat lessened. Unless you are staying around the campsite all day, the noise shouldn’t bother you. After all, this area is a popular destination for lots of activities outside the boundaries of the campground. Some people go to“Wheels Through Time,” a nationally famous motorcycle museum, and some people just like driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is only five to six miles from the campground. Others enjoy going to see the elk at Cataloochee Valley or in Cherokee, or they might catch a sunset at Waterrock Knob. This is just a small sampling of things to do near the campground. Overall, the campground is a great“jumping off” destination and has lots of things to do for all ages. Although I prefer tent camping and a little more privacy when I camp, it is ideal for RVers.