the dyrt
THE BEST CAMPING NEAR
National Forests in North Carolina, NORTH CAROLINA
465 Reviews 232 Campgrounds
Retrieving Results
EXPLORE
Most Recent National Forests in North Carolina Camping Reviews
Clean and well maintained campground.

Sites are close together, however there are lots of activities for the kids.

Full hook ups available, some with cable. The stream and lake are beautiful. Next time I will reserve a spot near the lake.

Beautiful Trails and Falls, Barebones Campgrounds

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.

Nice Campground

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.

Amazing Place to Camp

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.

Wonderful Campground

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.

Wow

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.

Family friendly lakeside camping

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

The Little Gem Where the Blacktop Ends

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!

Left early cause it was so bad!

Water was nice but the actual camp ground not so nice. No room what so ever to actually camp.

Terrible managment. Treats customers like dirt and doesn't care.

First of all, I had been loyal to this location for over twenty years. Dozens of trips there over the years with various friends and family. I have also been loyal to KOA in general and have been to dozens of KOA around the country. This time we arrived for our reservation on October 25th and I had reserved the month prior. I was directed to a cabin that was nothing like what I had booked or paid for. It was extremely inferior with no view, but I had paid a premium for a view. I asked if they were at least refunding part of my payment for the inferior cabin and extreme inconvenience, but the night guard would not let me talk to a manager. He would talk to the manager on the radio but she refused to address the situation. She was extremely rude and refused to adjust me to a lower price for the far inferior cabin and inconvenience. At the time, I felt they should have offered me some discount or adjustment for neglecting to honor my original reservation--especially since they didn't warn me ahead of time. If they had, I would have never wasted my time and money getting there. When I felt uncomfortable paying my original premium price for the the far inferior substitute they offered, she threatened that I had to leave or she'd call the police. I had been a long time customer of over twenty years and was stunned at this terrible customer service and aggressive rudeness. They refused to treat me with any decency and would not take care of the situation. They left me with no place to stay for two very young children after an eight hour drive, and the company still refuses to answer calls or messages. They have been irresponsible and unethical. To be denied my reservation, treated like trash, and refused any adequate adjustment of the price was just stunning. The corporate office does not reply to messages either. They simply have no interest in customer service.

Horrible management. Treats long time customers like trash.

First of all, I had been loyal to this location for over twenty years. Dozens of trips there over the years with various friends and family. I have also been loyal to KOA in general and have been to dozens of KOA around the country. This time we arrived for our reservation on October 25th and I had reserved the month prior. I was directed to a cabin that was nothing like what I had booked or paid for. It was extremely inferior with no view, but I had paid a premium for a view. I asked if they were at least refunding part of my payment for the inferior cabin and extreme inconvenience, but the night guard would not let me talk to a manager. He would talk to the manager on the radio but she refused to address the situation. She was extremely rude and refused to adjust me to a lower price for the far inferior cabin and inconvenience. At the time, I felt they should have offered me some discount or adjustment for neglecting to honor my original reservation--especially since they didn't warn me ahead of time. If they had, I would have never wasted my time and money getting there. When I felt uncomfortable paying my original premium price for the the far inferior substitute they offered, she threatened that I had to leave or she'd call the police. I had been a long time customer of over twenty years and was stunned at this terrible customer service and aggressive rudeness. They refused to treat me with any decency and would not take care of the situation. They left me with no place to stay for two very young children after an eight hour drive, and the company still refuses to answer calls or messages. They have been irresponsible and unethical. To be denied my reservation, treated like trash, and refused any adequate adjustment of the price was just stunning. The corporate office does not reply to messages either. They simply have no interest in customer service.

Camp Driftwood

I found this campground through airbnb. They have tent camping as well as two cottages. The cottages are titled "Paddlers Paradise- Camp Driftwood Cottage" and have cable TV, a laptop friendly work space, heating, air conditioning, and a private entrance. The tent camping sites are titled "Camp Site- Camp Driftwood" and have fire rings, picnic tables, and access to a shared bathhouse and common area. Both of these have free parking and are located right on the French Broad River. The water is easily accessible and tubing is frequently seen along the bank. The entrance to the area is directly off the road, but has a VERY steep decline immediately following. Be cautious in driving too far up the bank as the path becomes soft, especially after a good rain. Overall, a small and personable camping option that is worth a visit!

Fun Little Trail

This trail was lots of fun! My friend and I decided to go here on a whim and it didn’t disappoint. There are lots of features to this camp and the surrounding trails such as waterfalls, rock outcroppings, cable crossings, and access to Caesar’s Head trails. My favorite thing about the boy/Girl Scout campsites was that it was along a river and was very large. It would be a great campsite for those who have a big group or just like the space. The only thing I didn’t like about the campsites was that it was visible from the trail so offered little privacy from hikers or fellow campers. My word of advice is to not take dogs that can’t swim across the river; we saw a few couples who struggled to carry their pooches across the cable.

RV site in a fun area

First off this is really just a campground for RVs and you wouldn’t want to drive in and stay in a tent here. However, for that purpose it is a nice site and located in a great area. Right along the Cullasaja rive you have easy access to swimming and boating or you can drive a mile or two up the road and get to some amazing swimming holes with cliff jumping and natural water slides. The area is really beautiful year round though best in the summer when you can cool off from the hot days by getting in the water. The campground itself has many of the amenities you would want while RV camping such as full hook up and picnic benches for hanging out at. They also promote a family friendly environment that seemed to be very welcoming. Overall, their location right along the river and only a few minutes downstream of the amazing swimming makes this a place well worth checking out.

Love!!!

I absolutely loved these primitive campsites and was so bummed when they started to tear them down to make cabins. The campsites are very secluded and right on the lake. The bathrooms are within walking distance and there are also playgrounds, a sand volleyball court, and picnic tables. Make sure to book a few weeks ahead of time if you are camping on a holiday!

Great summmer destination

We really enjoyed our two month stay in the NC mountains. They have a fenced dog run, great creek side sites and old, old, old growth trees at our site. They have many recent upgrades including new concrete pads, upgraded bathrooms and game room. Evidently under new management as they moved the permanent sites taking up all the creek side spots so some of us temp people could enjoy the creek and have a fire. Very calm. There is entertainment booked on some weekends. Great weather!

So Diverse

This place is so beautiful and offers a variety of things to do. My family and I come here all the time to fish in the rivers. They also have a lot of nearby hiking/biking trails for all skill levels. I would give it 10 stars if I could!

Worth it just for the view

I live roughly 10 minutes from Table Rock and go there all the time especially during the summer. The Table Rock trail is a must if you are nearby! It is pretty strenuous especially if you have health issues but is well worth the trek to the top. Just make sure that if you hike during the winter to give yourself plenty of time to finish the trail and to wear good trail shoes since ice can be expected. The campsites are always very well kept; as is the park in general but gets pretty crowded.

Great Setting For Larger Groups

When traveling to the Smoky Mountains there are so many options for camping. Depending on your preference, group size or location you can find sites scattered throughout the park which suit your needs. As a solo traveler, a lot of times I miss out on the awesome amenities offered by the various group camps around the country, however I decided while enjoying my time in the Smoky Mountains to check out a few of them just to see what I was missing.

Cosby Group Camp is about 5 miles from the town of Cosby. Despite being in the park, unlike many which are located inside its bounds this means you are closer to amenities like modern stores and plenty of supplies. The roads here are wide and sites are spacious and the sites are secluded in a beautiful shaded array tall trees.

The bathrooms here are much nicer than some of the campgrounds in the area and offer flushing toilets and drinking water, although I didn't notice any showers when I was visiting.

The camp is made of 3 main sites, so it by no means is the largest group camp in the park, so if you are looking I would suggest trying to make your reservations early. Each site has tent pads and firings with grills. Picnic tables are scattered throughout the site and plenty of parking is available for guests so you could probably have a pretty sizable group in each of the sites.

I'd say this site would be great for a group of friends traveling together or a family out on a vacation together. And I think the overall best part of the site was that it only was $30 for each site, which is crazy considering some of the solo sites I had looked at in the area were that much with the same amenities.

TIPS:

  • Stop off in Crosby if you need food or other supplies, the closest next town would be Gatlinburg which has tons of entertainment.

  • Book in advance, don't try to arrive and book on same day, that apparently is rare.

  • Keep in mind this campground is not open year round so if you are traveling check online first before trying to stay to make sure it is open. Dates are flexible for opening based on weather in the area.

It was so nice we stayed here 2 years in a row

This was a nice, clean and super relaxing place! Loved it!

very pretty cg on a pristine river (great trout fishing), convenient to gas

very nice cg, convenient to gas/grocery. a pristine river runs thru it,

with excellent trout fishing. very helpful host, campsites afford privacy (most).

has all amenities in a very pretty setting but OVERCROWDED !

don't go on weekends in nice weather…it's too crowded and

campsites are crowded together, privacy lacking.

Foggy, Quiet, and Away From the Crowds

We chose this campground specifically for the elevation, knowing we would be camping in late August and wanting an escape from the heat. It definitely delivered--at over 5300' elevation, it is much, much cooler at the campground than many of the trails lower in the Smokies. It is also extremely foggy--we did not spend much time here during the day as we were hiking, but both morning and nights we were there, clouds settled in over the entire campground, creating a very cool effect. (It also rained on us both nights, so make sure your tent is properly sealed against water!)

We stayed in sites 38 and 39, which had been booked in advance by the friends we went with. These are very close to the entrance, to other sites, to the bathrooms, the campground hosts, and the dishwashing station, and they are right on the road. It made these sites very convenient, but not the best for us as we had 5 small children with us. The tent pad at site 38 was also a little too small for our 6 person Coleman Evanston—one corner was hanging off the wooden platform.

While our campsite was not as private as we normally would choose for ourselves, the campground itself was very quiet and very peaceful, and nowhere near full occupancy, despite the crowds on the trails below us. It is very wet, so if you want a campfire be sure to buy some of the heat-treated wood available for purchase down the mountain, and be prepared to secure anything you don't want to get wet in your cars overnight.

My only complaint here was the interaction the campground hosts had with our children--a bear had been seen at the entrance to the campground our first night there, and one of the hosts attempted to scare one of our toddlers into staying close to her mom, which is a decision I found highly inappropriate, and the hosts in general acted annoyed anytime our children wanted to play more than a few feet away from the adults. However that is not a fault of the campground itself, and I think if we had not been so close to the host site that would not have been an issue, and would have made this a very family-friendly place to go--provided you prepare for temperatures 10-20 degrees cooler than it is at lower elevations!

**Other things of note with this campground: **

-For privacy, sites 32-37 looked to be the best, although they require a couple of steps down from the car so are not ADA compliant. These sites are very grassy, with a lot of room for kids and dogs to run around without being right on the road. Site 23 was also very private compared to the others, although small; I don’t think anything larger than a 4 person tent would fit here.

-The tent-only sites, 26-31, are clustered together and very open to each other, but offer privacy from the road and the other sites in the campground, and are considered the "walk-in" sites. The walk is very short, and I did see bear boxes to store food, as proper food storage is extremely important in the Smokies--within a few miles of the campsite we saw elk, bears, wild turkey, and deer.

-There is a dishwashing station behind site 38, with two sinks. There was some dish soap in there on our trip, but as always, be prepared with your own, and the water was cold water only.

-Site 38 is next to an open field rolling down the mountain; the hosts told us there is a bear family that likes to cross the campsite between sites 7 and 38, so be prepared to see one if you choose a site near this crossing!

-There is a trail along the edge of this campground that is supposed to have wonderful sunset views, although we did not get to take advantage of this due to the fog.

-Because of the high elevation, Balsam Mountain has a shorter operating season that the other GSMNP campgrounds; plan your trip accordingly.

-There are no electric or water hook-ups here, although RVs and campers may park at the sites.

-The bathrooms have solar-powered lights for nighttime, but they are very dim, so flashlights/headlamps are encouraged.

Lovely River Spots

I would consider this one of my favorite campgrounds IF you have a site on the river and if you don't mind a fair walk to the toilets. The campground does not allow trailers on any of the river-front sites, only tents, so we had to park our GO in the next row. Happily we were camping with friends who took a group site on the water, so we spent the days there. The river-side sites are lovely, you're sleeping right next to the French Broad and during the day you can play at the edge. Our group site had a little pool created by previous campers using rocks, so all the young kids could splash to their hearts content. The downside is there is only one flush toilet facility, so if you're in the further sites it's a long trek. They do have porta-potties half-way, but I preferred planning in the walk. The sites are large and wooded, though not so wooded that I would feel comfortable squatting in our campsite. I noticed people from the further sites actually driving their cars up to the bathrooms in the evenings…

Backwoods camping and nice trails

Paris mountain is a personal favorite of mine and take any chance to go. This is a great dog friendly park with clean trails, plenty of parking, and friendly staff. Now is the time to go as it is less crowded and and the leaves are changing color.

Very Secluded

I absolutely love this campground! It’s a bit of a longer hike to get to the primitive campsites but is worth its since it’s along a river for the most part and the sites are not that close to each other either. I haven’t seen many people camping during the winter months, although during the summer and fall it gets booked quickly. But make sure to call ahead of time because every time that we have called short notice they have been closed or booked. Nearby the visitor center are the bathrooms and fish hatchery (all of which are kept very clean).

Hidden Gem

This place is wonderful! My friend and I hiked the Raven Cliff Falls loop trail a while back and have added it to our list of top 10 favorite trails. I was really bummed about the removal of the cable crossing, but still loved the trail due to climbing ladders and walking along The Cathedral! I strongly suggest wearing waterproof hiking boots/trail runners as there is lots of water on the trail and because the Dismal Trail is a steep climb to the lookout.

Catawba Camping

The sites in this family campground are right on top of each other, so you will not have privacy! The bathhouse was not good, and pretty far away, and there was only one for the entire property. They have some cabins and a tiny house that you can rent, those looked cool. The owner is super nice, and the sites are right on the creek, so you hear the running water all night so that is really nice, and you are close to Black Mountain, Montreat, and not too far from Asheville.

Cosby Campground is the bomb!

Cosby Campground is amazing! Most sites are walk up, so you don’t need a reservation, and there are probably 100+ sites, so even during the busiest of times you can find a good site. Each site has plenty of space too, so you’re not on top of the site next to you. No showers, but several restrooms in the campground. The trailhead for Mt. Cammerer via Low Gap leaves from here also, and that was a great hike, the first 3+miles are rough and steep, but once you hit the AT it gets easier. Highly recommend Cosby Campground!!!

Tranquil oasis in the lush Smokies

My hubby and I were in the Smokies last weekend to camp, hike and take in the changing fall colors - along with a few thousand other people. We were told that the only campground with an open spot for tent camping would be Cosby. Cosby was not close to any of the other attractions we wanted to see, but we went there nonetheless as we were ready to camp. We are so glad that we went to Cosby. It is quieter as it is not located in the more popular areas - and this made it the perfect spot for my husband and I as we are not too fond of crowds. We found quiet hiking trails nearby - compared with the rest of the Smokies that had very crowded hiking trails.

The campground staff was friendly, informative and helpful. The bathrooms were very clean and the campgrounds as well. We will definitely camp in Cosby again!