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Gatesville, NORTH CAROLINA

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Ok campground, but lots to do!

The campground at Northwest River Park is small and pretty basic. For a tent camper that is used to wooded, private sites these leave much to be desired. There is not much privacy. The campground was full the night we stayed there and very busy and noisy through the night. We stayed on a Memorial Day weekend though so maybe it is not typically like that. All night our young children were woken up by the noise from the nearby RV's AC units. 

What this park lacks in it's campground, it makes up for in it's recreational activities! There is a putt-putt course! Canoeing! Tons of hiking trails! Multiple playgrounds! Lots of wide open space for kids to run and play! Fishing! This is an excellent park for kids and families to come for the day! 

Overall not a horrible experience but this is the closest campground to our house and we have not felt the need to come back and stay overnight. Maybe would be better for camping mid-week when it's not so busy.

Love this campground!

Lots of things for kids to do! Pool, putt-putt, ice cream shop and so much more. The beach isn't great, you have to go out pretty far to really be in the water, but other then that it works great even has an outdoor shower right on the beach. They have fantastic bathhouses, they are each private. Nice large spots. Only negative is to watch out for snakes.

Not bad

Campsites are nice but be careful the wooden borders is included in dimensions. Nice bathrooms with hot showers. Over 5 miles of easy hiking good for everyone. Gas station right outside visitor center entrance in case you forget anything. Not very many people here so its nice and quiet.

Touristy but neat

So this campground is pretty buildt up and touristy because of all the things to do around it. It’s got a big water park, cabins, trips down the river you can book, things like that. I personally prefer a little more wilderness when I camp, but it’s a pretty nice place. 

The allure here for me was all the things to do around it. There’s the natural bridge which is a cool sight to see, there’s a safari that you can go on to see lots of neat animals, some cool hikes like devils marble yard and ceder creek trail. This area is an awesome way to get out and enjoy a weekend.

wow

This place was really unlike any campground I've been to. I've hit some pretty remote places, but this one was different because it was on the beach but still out in the middle of nowhere. I think we went about 7 miles before we got to our campsite, and I think the closest sites from the parking area were 5 or 6. Really there wasn't hardly anyone else out there, so it felt like we had our own private beach. We hiked out to our spot, but we saw some people biking into theirs. 

There was a little gift shop when you first came in, so if you really need something you can hike back out to get it. Not too much else out here though besides hiking trials and the ocean. 

The most stunning part was definitely the sunsets. No two looked the same, and I attached a bunch of pictures here to show ya. Nothing better than a beach sunset. Plus there are a ton of different types of birds out there if you like wildlife. Also, the saltwater fishing in the area was great. My cousin even caught a few baby sharks. 

This was a great way to get away from civilization for a bit and enjoy the beach. Definitely better than going to a touristy beach town. Would really recommend this spot!

Great beach campground

Normally in my experience campgrounds at the beach don't tend to be as nice as campgrounds out in the mountains. North Bay Shore Campground, however, was actually really nice. We didn't spend a whole lot of time there, because we were at the beach most of the day. The campground was really nice to come back to for a break though. It had a pool, arcade, and volleyball nets for when we got tired of being at the beach. Also it had wifi, which is one thing that you can't always find in a campground. 

Virginia beach is a neat little town. The beach does get pretty crowded, but there's a ton to do in the area. We mini golfed of course, but we found this cool arcade/indoor mini golf place. There's tons of those little beach shops to blow your money at and a lot of great restaurants. Go visit the cool Neptune statue! Pretty nice trip!

Hometown fun

I have spent my childhood here and I am excited to share it with my kids. We hike here when visiting grandparents. Chesapeake Public Park’s does a great job with events and education at NWRP! Equestrian trails available, which is always a plus.

nice family campground

Nice place for families and rv's, stopped here for a night on the way to Colonial Williamsburg well kept nice facilities just a bit expensive for what i needed. Cool swimming area, this seems to be the only decent spot around.

Wish I could have checked it out!

Arrived here before sun down and planned on hiking in to camp, but was stopped by virginia beach police! Myself and two others were turned away without reason, your'e supposed to park and hike in but an officer was waiting there telling people to leave. Given there was a music festival right down the street with hooligans runnin around, they probably didn't want certain types staying the night here and i guess i fit the bill! Might have to come back and try again..

Great jump off spot

Stayed here overnight and spent my days at Sandbridge Beach and the Outer Banks. Friendly staff, and nice tent spots along the canal. Only downfall was the boat launch was next to my sight, and I was woken up at 6:30 every morning with guys launching their bass boats.

Love it

I love this little place in Elizabeth City. There is a little tiny beach nearby & it provides a beautiful view in during sunrise/sunset. There is not much else to do in the area but it is about an hour drive to the OBX so not too bad. I would suggest visiting at least once.

Not the best I’ve been to

This campground is in an okay location. There is not much to do in the surrounding area and the only thing that I remember them really having to offer is a swimming pool. They had little paddle boats and stuff on the water but I’m not sure if they get used. You can’t swim in the water because it is just too nasty. The tent site we were given was awful. It is very stumpy and bumpy throughout the entire campground. Lots of roots and tree limbs. May have been the worst camping experience of my life.

Nice place

Stayed here a few nights for a local baseball tournament. Quiet and clean. Was too hot for any of the “normal” camping experiences. Very accommodating personnel.

Good

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.

Great place for enjoying the water!

This is a small family oriented campground close to Sandbridge beach. They are located on a small waterway that leads to Back Bay. Good fishing and wonderful area to kayak or paddle board. You can even bring a boat. The bathhouse is clean, climate controlled , and never too busy. There’s a game room for relaxing or playing air hockey, pool, and fussball. The owners have corn hole available as well. There’s a small swimming pool in case you want to take a dip although due to excessive rain the week before our trip it was closed for cleanup. There’s a basketball court and small playground. This is a low lying area and standing water at some sites after heavy rains can be an issue. There are a few cabins to rent, pop ups and a bunkhouse camper as well as full and water/elec. hookup RV sites, waterfront sites and tent sites. We’ve stayed here several times and the owners and employees are always very welcoming and accommodating. Pets are allowed on leash and our dogs love it!

Fun for kids

Nice park. Kids friendly with lots of things for kids to do

Worth The Hike/Bike In

Even on the fourth of July weekend, with every campsite booked, this place was quiet and felt very removed from the beaches several miles north in Virginia Beach. We biked in from Little Island Park. 

From the parking lot to our campsite, it was about 7.5 miles. Some campsites are closer by a couple of miles. We're both in good shape, and on bike we made the trek in less than an hour. I rode my mountain bike, and my wife road her hybrid commuter bike without issue. We brought a collapsible 5 gallon jug that I had to ride back to the visitors center (about 2 miles from our campsite) to fill up. 

It was a fair amount of work, but we took our 9 month old and 2 year old children. We towed them in a trailer and they loved their time at the beach. 

The visitors center is a great spot to stop and rest for a while. It is air conditioned, and they have a small gift shop with cold drinks and ice cream available. 

We were on site 22, which is ocean side, and right up next to 23. They could easily act as companion sites. If you camp on the ocean side, you are permitted to set up your tent on the shore (in  a designated strip) as long as you let them know at the visitors center.

All other campers we met were quiet and friendly. and we really just could not have asked for a better situation. 

This is my kind of day at the beach. I loved it.

Also, pets are allowed, but they are not allowed through Black Bay. You either have to bring them in via boat, or coming up south from North Carolina.

Great!

We arrived not sure of where to camp and this lovely guy named Steve who wasn’t even an employee showed us a good place to camp and made us a fire. It’s a very typical southern campground with lots of people who stay there for long periods of time. Lots of southern hospitality! The sunset is beautiful!

Great!

We arrived not sure of where to camp and this lovely guy named Steve who wasn’t even an employee showed us a good place to camp and made us a fire. It’s a very typical southern campground with lots of people who stay there for long periods of time. Lots of southern hospitality! The sunset is beautiful!

Good for quick stays!

The facility is nothing special, but it’s great for quick stays.

Planes fly daily and at night which is cool. Limited amount of spacing. Beach access Boat ramp access Cabin lodging available

Absolutley worth the hike!

We’ve lived so close to this park for so long and I regret not coming sooner. This park is 5+ miles from the Little Island Park Parking lot, where you have to park if you’re staying overnight. So, you have to hike, bike or boat into the primitive campground because its access is blocked by Back Bay Wildlife Refuge. But because of this, the Park is a serene oasis away from traffic, no RV’s, not a lot of people. A great place to get away from it all! We hiked in on the East Dike trail through Back Bay, about 5.4 miles, with everything for the weekend on our backs. The trail is a rock/gravel road, probably more suited to bikes as it was pretty hard on our feet. But beautiful views of Back Bay on the way to the Park. Once we made it to the park, we stopped in the Visitors Center, which sells cold drinks, is air conditioned, has clean full-service bathrooms and friendly attendants who answered all our questions we had about the camping. From the Visitors Center, it’s about another .5 or so of a soft sandy hike to the Oceanside Barbour Hill campground, where we stayed. Our campsite was #12 and the attendant told us it was one of the new sites this year. It was close to the pit toilet bathrooms, drinking water faucet, and outdoor shower. The campsite was very secluded, you can’t see it from the main road, it’s tucked back in the live oaks. Site #13 is close by, would make a great buddy site. The campsite has a picnic table and a hook to hang your food and trash at night. Fires are not allowed but small camping stoves are, so we brought a little pocket rocket butane stove to cook on. What we didn’t know when we made reservations here is that you actually have two sites to choose from at this campground. There is the #12 in the live oaks site and then is you walk a short distance to the Beach, you have a designated #12 spot on the beach that you can choose to camp at as well! It was awesome! We ended up doing most of the cooking and eating at the live oaks site and sleeping and hanging out at the beach since there is no picnic table or anything at the beach site. Such an amazing experience to wake up to the sun rising over the Atlantic ocean and sleeping under the stars. There were only two other tents camped out on the beach with us when we were there so it was still pretty isolated. If you want to be on the beach by yourself, just walk less than a mile down either way and there is not a soul. There’s tons of hiking, interesting things to see, beautiful nature. We saw dolphins playing in the ocean! The beach alive with crabs! Osprey catching fish! We saw an old graveyard and church steeple at Wash Woods, that’s definitely worth the hike. We walked to the North Carolina border. There’s a Loveworks and a buoy that marks the southernmost Virginia State Park. We hiked over 30 miles over the weekend, there so much to do, we are exhausted! We came in mid-June and the weather was gorgeous - 80s during the day and 60s at night. There were some biting flies and mosquitos but nothing a little bug spray couldn’t take care of. We did not see any snakes. At the end of our trip, we opted to hike back to Little Island on the beach through Back Bay. It was slightly shorter, 5.1 miles, but a tougher hike because of the sand. We came home exhausted, sunburnt, blisters, but just in awe of this amazing park. It’s definitely worth the hike!

Perfect overnight

All the amenities and friendly staff Got us in ASAP Easy access off 64

Beautiful Hidden Gem!!

This cypress pond is a great place for anyone! They have a family campsite loop with a nice bathhouse in the middle, they have group walk-in and canoe in campsite and well as family canoe in. They have a fishing area and a on site canoe rental. The Millpond itself is huge!! They use a buoy navigational system on the water. No swimming though due to the huge Alligators that live there. Overall this is an affordable and momentous getaway that I visit every chance I get.

Cool place for families

There were a lot of child friendly activities to do here. It’s about 40 mins from the beach. We tent camped and had a blast. The showers were nice and the bathrooms were very clean. The camp store is great. It has ice cream, which my kids loved. Would definitely go again

Best camping trip

My wife and I booked for four days and the property they have is super nice. On our first day there one of the owners brought us honey from their home apiary! We will be back to camp here in the future!!

Campground with a Different Ecosystem--Woods and Swamp

Merchants Millpond is a great state park if you want to explore a different kind of ecosystem.  The heart of the park lies in its swamps filled with cypress trees and cypress stumps.  There are several camping areas of different kinds.  You can canoe in to one of their primitive campsites, which is on an island in the swamp.  There are other hike-in primitive sites, group camping sites, and there are also the family camping sites.   I stayed at the family camping site and decided to set up my hammock instead of a tent.  If you stay at Merchants Millpond, make sure you take and use insect repellent and lots of it.  I had the biggest problem with mosquitoes and ticks.  If you stay in a hammock, make sure it has mosquito netting.  The family camping sites have tent pads, lantern poles, and fire rings.  The bath house is centrally located within a short walking distance of all of the campsites.  The showers have hot water, but the bath house itself looks outdated.  The canoe-in site that I explored only has a pit toilet, but it did have fire rings and picnic tables.  You can hike to the island by way of a wooden bridge across the swamp, but it is mainly for those who want to canoe in.  If you can go off trail, you can see lots of wildlife.  I had the opportunity to do so since I was invited to participate in a search and rescue exercise.  I only saw one snake, which is unusual not to see more, but I also saw a deer and couple of turtles.  There is a bicycle trail, but the one I hiked on the most was the Lassiter Trail, which has a few wooden bridges and opportunities to experience the eastern woodlands and great views of the swampy millpond.  Fortunately, I did not run into any bears or alligators, which are common in this area.  The visitors center is large and modern, and there is a meeting facility.  The person that I talked to at the visitors center was pleasant and was able to answer my questions.  The staff is great to work with, and I know this because I volunteered to teach camping skills to 4H kids a couple of years ago at this state park.  Overall, it’s a great state park, but it lacks the amenities of modern RV parks.

Amazing!

This place is amazing! The staff is so friendly. We have gone a handful of times and it is our families favorite place to camp. The view on the beach is breathtaking. They are always throwing special events , we cannot wait to get back here!

camandkate_cre8

Great for outdoor activities

This campsite and park is a ton of fun. We've never camped here but we lived about 5 minutes down the road from the park and absolutely loved it. There are miles of trails around the lake and through the woods you can follow. It is extremely dog friendly with a fenced in dog park as well. There are kayaks and paddle boats you can rent by the hour. This park has plenty of camping spots and also has some yurts that are available to rent out. I would recommend this spot to anyone who wants a convenient family friendly camping/outdoor experience.

Lots of options family oriented

I went tent camping and fishing in the sound they have much to offer. Enjoyed a nice night with a buddy. Polite people and not loud.

Peaceful Waterside Camping

Coming to North Carolina, coastal camping is something which has to be on your bucket list. I traveled down the highway looking to get closer to Kitty Hawk where I wanted to see some of the many first in flight stops and this place jumped out at me and welcomed me in from the highway.

I stopped and. a local store and they raved about its location and proximity to the water so I simply had to stop and see for myself. I was not disappointed.

If you are looking for waterfront camping and activities I cannot see any location being more serene especially around sunrise and sunset. The water front stretches for miles and is so peaceful. Despite being located near the town of Bells itself you feel removed from civilization and next to your new close friend at the campground, where everyone seemed very nice.

As a tent camper I found the only downfall to be that the facility only had one shower area for the entire camp, and on a busy weekend like when I was there on a holiday that could be a bit of a juggling act for everyone. The bathrooms themselves were nice, though a bit dated and the entire camp was quaint.

They had a dock and launch which made for perfect water activities and when I was there they had many outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy.

When you think of one of those cute communities nestled right on the east coast you see in your mind something that looks just like this place. It was ideal!

TIPS:

  • When traveling in this area check out the slightly strange and interesting spot Diggers Dungeon, a monster truck Mecca that will bring up a few memories even if you aren't really a fan. This spot is really interesting and has a diner, petting zoo and even tours of the shop where they put together the most famous monster truck of all times "Gravedigger"
  • Bring your water toys. This place is the perfect site for getting out the jet ski or just floating in the amazing feeling waters.