The #1 Camping App
Search 500,000 listings, reviews & tips from anywhere in the US. Our free app is the top-rated camping app on Apple and Android.
We stayed at Mcdowell Park Campground over a long weekend and really enjoyed it. The park is located southwest of Charlotte off of hwy 49 near Lake Wylie, SC. The hwy is busy and neighboring Lake Wylie is also busy. however, once you pull off the road and back into the nature preserve, all of the noise (except for airplanes) falls away.
Our camp spot was level and plenty big enough to accommodate our 12x17 tent. We had our own power and shared water with the next campers. We were close to the bathhouse which was really clean. We loved the laid back atmosphere. We even had a couple of families in a group camping next to us and across from us. And while their kids were "active" it didn't affect our easy weekend.
We were able to buy ice and firewood at the camp office. The staff were very nice and accommodating.
Others mention that there is not much to do. In the campground, there is a playground and not much more. However, the overall Mcdowell nature preserve has plenty to do with Lake Wylie, playgrounds, nature trails, fishing, and more. You can be as busy or as chill as you choose.
We are headed back in March 2020 to kick off our camping season.
This seems to be a real nice campground. We stayed when the amusement park was closed so it was very quite and hardly anyone there. It had just rained a bunch so it was a bit muddy but it looked like all the spots are blacktop to park on so it was alright. Nice friendly staff too.
We stayed on site 16 right on the lake. Beautiful views. Our site was very steep, so took a lot to get level, but it was ok. The rangers we're very nice and helpful. Took a walk on the nature trail and it was a nice, short hike and then we looked at the museum and schoolhouse. The only downside is that you could hear the traffic at the campsites. Other than that it was a great spot.
It depends on what you want. Nobody else was there when I was there this past summer and so I was able to let my dogs roam freely. If that's what you want, there is plenty of space and since nobody else is there, there is privacy. However, the shower/bath houses that belonged to the camping area have been decommissioned and the only bathrooms, which are new, are therefore quite a distance because they're now in the day-use only area. I have pictures of the campsite somewhere I think. I did get chiggers from the whole experience.
Access: I've read a lot about the road leading into this campground/trailhead area. There are two different ways to access it from what I can tell. I came in from the north (despite coming from I-40). Googlemaps took me all the way up Hwy 181 to Gingercake Rd, in the Gingercake residential neighborhood. From there, it is about 7 miles to the Table Rock Picnic Area. Approximately 5 miles of that is compacted gravel/dirt road. I did this in a Honda Accord. You DO NOT need an SUV or 4wd to do this route. You do need patience however. There are some spots where rocks are sticking up and if you don't have tires designed for SUV's, you could risk a puncture. There are some potholes to dodge and some washed out areas. All of this can easily be navigated. I saw a Prius that had made it up. Again, I did this with an Accord with zero issues. The last two miles is a relatively steep paved road. The alternative route up (which you pass on the way to how I went) is about 13 miles off of Hwy 181. I think this is the way that many people go and review that it is very rough. It brings you up to the Picnic Area from the south. The two ways merge just before the paved portion.
I should note that there are campsites all the way up once you hit the dirt portion of the road. Several of those campsites would be good options getting to the northern portion of the gorge.
At the Picnic Area, there is plenty of parking, a bathroom and well, a picnic area with tables and grills. To the right is the trail to Table Rock and beyond up to Hawksbill. There are no campsites, at least not to the point where you go up to Table Rock. To the left is the picnic area and then the campsite area. I would estimate there are at least ten spots where a tent could be pitched with an accompanying fire ring (made of rocks). This is on the ridge heading up to The Chimneys. I was there in winter and there were still at least four sites taken, so in summer I imagine you would have any privacy for what that's worth.
I stayed at the site further up on the right (they aren't numbered). This was the last spot before you really hit the trail (which by the way is immediate world-class views. I don't know if it was just in my head or not, but the winds were extremely high that night and it felt like some of the sites a little way down the hill closer to the parking lot (maybe 100 yards) had less wind. Not sure if that was real or not, but you may consider that a lower spot. All of the sites are between 100-400 yards from the parking lot. So no need if you decide to bring more than you might need.
Overall, can't recommend this location enough. Bring what you need though. There are not facilities and the nearest anything is essentially an hour away in Morganton.
This campground is off the beaten path, literally. It is out in the country, and without a GPS, I would have had a difficult time finding it. I had written the directions down from the website, but at night, it takes some maneuvering to look at directions and find country road signs in the dark. The campground is close to its namesake town of Hiddenite, which is a famous gem mining area known for gemstones such as hiddenite (spodumene), emeralds, sapphires, etc. I didn’t realize when I got to the campground that it also was a place for people to come watch their Christmas lights display. All of the mobile homes and RVs were lit for a beautiful display. When I first tried to book a reservation, I had to fill out an online request. After two days, I hadn’t heard back and I was going in that direction on my way home. I decided to take a chance. I stopped at the entry to what I think was the campground/Christmas lights display entrance. After a few minutes, a gentleman came out to ask me if he could help me. I told him I had contacted the campground two days ago, and after that I followed his golf cart to where he showed me a few places I could park my teardrop for the night. It had water, electricity, and sewer, as most of the sites do, and it was close to the creek. It had rained quite a bit a few days ago, so the grassy site was soft with ruts. They do allow tent camping, which is good to know for future reference. It appeared to me that most of the other campers here were permanent residents. When I went to the bath house, I was told the ladies’ bathroom was not working, so if I hear a woman in there I would know why. Most of the campers, however, would be using the facilities in their own RVs/trailers. During the summer, the bath house wouldn’t be so bad, but it was cold and there was no heat. The concrete walls made it feel even colder. There was hot water, however, but I chose not to take a shower there since I was only three hours from home and I would be leaving the next morning. The floor needed sweeping and somebody left beard hair all over the one sink. The host was very nice, and the campground served my needs for an overnight stay. There are a swimming pool and a playground for children. The road coming into the campground is dirt as was the road within the campground. There are shady spots in the campground with pull-through and back-in sites. Although the Christmas lights were on until I went to sleep, it didn’t seem to bother me that much, and other than the synchronized Christmas music, it was quiet. It would be interesting to see how the campground is during the summer.
LOVE !!! 4 Paws Kingdom. The owners are a hoot and have some awesome originality and PR skills! Went here for a Sisters son The Fly event, though I had heard of it before. You can rent a camper, cabin or yurt or bring your camper. BEST of all, all have a fenced in yard for your pup! Then there’s the multiple fenced dog areas. Our favorite was the double pond area. The Boys Loved it! Lake Lure is nearby and Chimney Rock, the whole area if excellent for hiking, shopping and whatever else you want to do.
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.
Our camp spot was a little small but they do have bigger options available. We loved the lake area and enjoyed fishing there. The location on the Blue Ridge Parkway was beautiful and very secluded. The bathhouse was spotless everytime I went to shower. It also smelled freshly clean and always had plenty of hot water (not always the case when camping). The camp store employees were super friendly and helpful. We will go back again but will book a bigger spot to have more privacy.