Welcome to the Nantahala National Forest! The Nantahala National Forest lies in the mountain and valleys of southwestern North Carolina. The largest of North Carolina's four National Forests, the Nantahala encompasses 531,148 acres with elevations ranging from 5,800 feet at Lone Bald in Jackson County to 1,200 feet in Cherokee County along Hiwassee River. The Forest is divided into three Districts, Cheoah in Robbinsville, NC, Tusquitee in Murphy, NC, and the Nantahala in Franklin, NC. All district names come from the Cherokee language. "Nantahala" is a Cherokee word meaning "land of the noon day sun," a fitting name for the Nantahala Gorge, where the sun only reaches to the valley floor at midday.The Nantahala National Forest was established in 1920 under authority of the 1911 Weeks Act. This act provided authority to acquire lands for national forests to protect watersheds, to provide timber, and to regulate the flow of navigable streams. In the Nantahala National Forest, visitors enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities from whitewater rafting to camping. With over 600 miles of trails, opportunities exist for hikers, mountain bikers, horse-back riders and off-highway vehicle riders.
Camping and Day-use Information
Enjoy camping or a picnic at one of the many day-use areas. A list of camping and day-use areas in the Nantahala National Forest can be found here.
Nantahala & Pisgah National Forest Maps
The national forests in North Carolina offer a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities. From the mountains to the sea, there are many exciting adventures awaiting your visit to these national forests. Please keep in mind that all outdoor recreational activities on the Croatan, Pisgah, Nantahala and Uwharrie national forests, including activities at recreation sites, have inherent risks due to the natural setting in which they occur. Always remember, your safety is your responsibility.
Waterfall Safety for the Summer.
Awesome campsites close to the water. Near Standing Indian Campgound.
This is an amazing Nation Forest that covers a huge area and encompasses many campgrounds. Most of the places to camp here are backcountry sites. If you are planning a trip here make sure to do your research in advance since you can end up in pretty remote areas at times. Check for availability of water since it depends on the season. Also, I highly suggest picking a part of the forest to visit that has a view. There are some incredible lookout points that have campgrounds and firepits available. If you go in the summer it can get very hot and humid but the best time of year to hike here is in the Spring or Fall. The change in seasons makes for some incredibly beautiful backpacking.
Clean showers and toilets (including running water), easily accessible tent sites for large groups, litter-free, friendly staff, short hiking trails, less than an hour from Nantahala rafting