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Camping

Established Camping

McDowell Nature Preserve

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About

Welcome to McDowell Nature Preserve, a gem tucked away near Charlotte, NC. This place is perfect if you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle without straying too far from the city. The campground is gated and secure, with police patrolling the area, so you can feel safe during your stay.

The sites here are a mix of tent and RV accommodations, and while some spots are close together, the wooded surroundings offer plenty of shade and a sense of privacy. The campground is open year-round, making it a great spot no matter the season.

One of the standout features is the clean and well-maintained facilities. The bathrooms are private and unisex, each with its own shower, sink, and toilet. There's also a laundry facility on-site, which is a nice touch if you're planning an extended stay. For those who need to stay connected, the campground has good Verizon hotspot coverage, making it a decent spot for remote work.

Families will appreciate the playground, and there's easy access to Lake Wylie for fishing and boating. Firewood and ice are available for purchase, so you won't have to venture far for the essentials. Plus, if you forget anything, there's a Target nearby.

Overall, McDowell Nature Preserve offers a peaceful retreat with all the amenities you need for a comfortable camping experience. Whether you're here for a weekend getaway or a longer stay, you'll find plenty to enjoy.

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Location

McDowell Nature Preserve is located in North Carolina

Detail location of campground

Directions

From jct I-85 & I-77: Go 13-1/2 mi S on I-77 (exit 90 in SC), then 2 mi NW on Carowinds Blvd, then 4-1/4 mi SW on York Rd (Hwy 49).

Address

15222 York Road
Charlotte, NC 28278

Coordinates

35.09658784 N
81.02350582 W

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Access

  • Drive-In
    Park next to your site
  • Walk-In
    Park in a lot, walk to your site.
  • Hike-In
    Backcountry sites.
  • Boat-In
    Sites accessible by watercraft.

Stay Connected

  • WiFi
    Good
  • Verizon
    Good
  • AT&T
    Good
  • T-Mobile
    Good

Site Types

  • Tent Sites
  • RV Sites
  • Standard (Tent/RV)
  • Group

Features

For Campers

  • ADA Access
  • Trash
  • Picnic Table
  • Firewood Available
  • Phone Service
  • Reservable
  • WiFi
  • Showers
  • Drinking Water
  • Electric Hookups
  • Toilets
  • Pets
  • Fires

For Vehicles

  • Sanitary Dump
  • Sewer Hookups
  • Water Hookups
  • Pull-Through Sites

Reviews

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4.5

out of 5

27 Reviews

Olivia W.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed May. 24, 2024

Safe Gated Campground

Campground is guarded by two gates and I saw the police patrol around a few times after hours. The spots are very close to each other but that didn’t bother me. I chose spot D16 which is the only camping spot with a bit of an uphill ramp from the car to the camp spot. The rest lie flat. Didn’t help that I have a tent that attaches to my car so it made that difficult.

Month of VisitJuly
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Olivia W., May 24, 2024
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Olivia W., May 24, 2024
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Olivia W., May 24, 2024
Lucy P.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Mar. 24, 2024

Crowded but cool

Took my gf here to one of the walk-in sites for her first time camping. I love that it's so close to the city but still so beautiful! It did feel like everyone was very close together, but otherwise the facilities were great.

Month of VisitOctober
@HomegrownRV 😎.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Nov. 24, 2023

Great visit and campground!

This was a very nice/quiet campground. The sites were spacious and private. The campground itself is very wooded with lots of trees for shade. Our site was also pretty level.

The campground is gated, and you are provided a code at check in. The park also has security and on site most of the time. The only negative is that the place to enter the gate code is on the opposite side from where you pull in, so you do have to get out of your vehicle to enter it each time.

The bathrooms and laundry were very clean during our visit. The playground was a nice addition for our toddler too!

We would definitely stay here again.

Follow us on Tiktok and Instagram at @HomegrownRV for more reviews and videos of campgrounds!

SiteR4
Month of VisitDecember
  • Follow us on Tiktok and Instagram at @HomegrownRV for more reviews and videos of campgrounds!
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  • Follow us on Tiktok and Instagram at @HomegrownRV for more reviews and videos of campgrounds!
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  • (7) View All
S
Reviewed Nov. 3, 2022

Great place for remote working

My boyfriend and I used our Verizon hotspots to work and do Zoom meetings and didn’t have a problem. The showers/bathrooms are very clean.

SiteT6
Month of VisitDecember
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Samantha , November 3, 2022
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Samantha , November 3, 2022
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Samantha , November 3, 2022
  • (5) View All
Shannon S.
Reviewed Nov. 2, 2022

Convenient!

One of our favorites, if not our favorite! We have a large, 10 person tent and it just fit on the tent pad. The electricity panel was a bit far from our tent so we couldn’t have electricity inside our tent as you’d need a cord that was at least 50 feet. I’ve seen other sites that have it much closer to your setup.

The bathrooms were great! Private to each person with a bathroom and shower. They are all unisex but there are about 8-10. They were kept clean. They also have a laundry facility there also.

Our site was extremely close to another, could have practically spat at them and hit them. That was one of the downers for us due to the battery dying alert going off all night and the snoring. That same night there was some sort of loud, thumping bass either off site or in the campground, not sure. Eventually it sounded like cops got involved and squashed it.

It was awesome having the ability to buy firewood, magic flame, and ice in an instant. The nearby lake is gorgeous but the lake is super rocky in areas for fishing. We didn’t catch anything even off the little dock. Target is super nearby for any other last minute needs.

We will be back!

SiteD16
Month of VisitNovember
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Shannon S., November 2, 2022
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Shannon S., November 2, 2022
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Shannon S., November 2, 2022
  • (4) View All
kThe Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Oct. 31, 2022

One of the only options on the lake near charlotte

Nice campground on the lake near charlotte. Nice facilities. Safety gates, seemed secure and quiet at night. Some of the rv sites were in quite a slope. Access to lots of good recreation in the nearby area. Would stay again.

SiteR-6
Month of VisitNovember
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Kevan  R.
Reviewed Aug. 20, 2022

Quiet Shade!

Word on this place was it was a gang hang out. Not anymore. Security Gate(s)! Police presence. This campground is wonderfully maintained; lots of options for camping. Booked it awhile back for the Bon Temps kayak race on Lake Wylie.

Site7
Month of VisitSeptember
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Kevan  R., August 20, 2022
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Kevan  R., August 20, 2022
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Kevan  R., August 20, 2022
  • (4) View All
Jason S.
Reviewed Aug. 18, 2022

Awesome campground

They do a beautiful job in maintaining this campground. Very clean and affordable.

Site13
Month of VisitSeptember
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Jason S., August 18, 2022
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Jason S., August 18, 2022
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Jason S., August 18, 2022
  • (6) View All
Morgan H.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Apr. 25, 2022

Great Campground

Loved our stay at McDowell and definitely would return. Some sites are built for smaller tents so pay attention when booking! The bathhouse was super clean and was made up of 8 private bathrooms with sink, toilet, and shower. The showers had no temperature control, but were luke warm.

Month of VisitApril
Kelli L.
Reviewed Sep. 15, 2021

Beautiful Nature Preserve Close to Amenities

Beautiful nature preserve with large 50+ site campground. Tent sites around $28. Within 6 miles of stores and amenities. Helpful camp hosts know which sites may be best for certain equipment.

SiteD5
Month of VisitOctober
Julie L.
Reviewed May. 1, 2021

Really Great Spot of you need a quick getaway

Considering how close this is to the city, this is just a really excellent escape. The hiking trails are extremely well kept, the campsites are relatively private and everything here is very clean. This is a great place and right next to the lake.

Month of VisitJune
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Julie L., May 1, 2021
Mary H.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Oct. 31, 2020

Hidden Gem

Nice spot within the Nature preserve. Sites are close but not on top of each other. Paved but not necessarily level. The cleanest and most well designed bathrooms I’ve ever seen in a campground. Lots of great hiking trails throughout the preserve. Level boxed in pads for tenters in a separate area from RVs as well as sites that can be packed out to. On a visit during COVID it was open but limited. Set on the beautiful Lake Wylie, surrounded by marinas and large beautiful lakeside homes. Well designed for fishing, boating, gatherings and picnics. It feels so remote but is literally minutes from the full metropolis of Charlotte, NC. A must see for at least a day hike if you are in the area or camping if you have the chance.

  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Mary H., October 31, 2020
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Mary H., October 31, 2020
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Mary H., October 31, 2020
  • (5) View All
Jennifer  J.
Reviewed Aug. 17, 2020

Campground close to home

Nice campground close to home!! We’ve stayed here twice now and had a great time both times. Small campground but so nice!

  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Jennifer  J., August 17, 2020
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Jennifer  J., August 17, 2020
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Jennifer  J., August 17, 2020
  • (7) View All
Kevin A.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Aug. 10, 2020

Great walks around the lake

The park is close to our home and visit regularly. Several great trails. Great for kayaking.

  • Play button icon
L
Reviewed May. 1, 2020

Beautiful campground close to home!

Beautiful campground and clean facilities! The sites were nice and spacious. 

The lake is so pretty and we caught a huge catfish!

You can kind of hear the cars at night but it wasn’t too bad. Very friendly park rangers too. Would love to go back!

Month of VisitJune
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Lisa L., May 1, 2020
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Lisa L., May 1, 2020
Lee J.
Reviewed Feb. 19, 2020

Close to the city but a world away from the bustle

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.

SiteD1
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Lee J., February 19, 2020
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Lee J., February 19, 2020
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Lee J., February 19, 2020
  • (11) View All
Keanu G.
Reviewed Aug. 4, 2019

Clean, open spots, NO FRILLS

Very nice staff. We stayed a weekend. The RV spots were nice with easy access. The bathrooms and showers were AMAZINGLY clean! However, other than a playground there is nothing for kids to really do. The staff at the nature center were very polite and the trails were nice, but again not for tiny kids. If you were taking older kids it would be perfect.

M
Reviewed Jun. 24, 2019

Great staff.

Enjoy alot. No problem at all.

Melissa  W.
Reviewed Jun. 1, 2019

Clean, lovely conveniently located

I camped here with a women’s hiking group and was impressed.

There are lovely trails, a large playground, nature center, the beautiful lake Wylie {no swimming, NC fishing license required}, geocaching, clean bathrooms and shower rooms, electric sites with large tent pads, good sized fire pit area, picnic table.. there’s even a loving gate with a code for a more secure camping experience..

We could fit 3 tents in one pad AND had a hammocker camper too.

If you are wanting some nature near the city, this is a good option - especially if you are checking out city things in Charlotte.

You can hear traffic at night when camping here so bring ear plugs, headphones or a white noise fan if that bothers you.

Pet friendly 🐾

I saw both dogs and camping kitties

There’s 56 camp sites: these include tent, RV hook ups and some primitive.

There’s group camping at Copperhead Island.

I highly recommend, especially for families with children, lots to do and a safe, secure feeling.

  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Melissa  W., June 1, 2019
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Melissa  W., June 1, 2019
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Melissa  W., June 1, 2019
  • (28) View All
J
Reviewed Apr. 9, 2019

Nice campground

Nice little campground with good flat sites. Can hike to the river for fishing. Nice bath house.

Month of VisitApril
G
Reviewed Sep. 1, 2018

Nice County Pk., no frills

Very nice County Pk. with many hiking trails and a lake area for fishing. Boating off site. No Frills. Electric & water site. Clean, private lockable bathroom/shower

M
Reviewed Jul. 18, 2018

Clean and quiet

We live about half hour or so from this campground and have wanted to check it out for some time. The sites are very well taken care of. We chose to camp on one of the hotter days of the year so the tree shade came in handy to help keep us cool. It stormed the second night we were there and we tried to make the best of the situation without having to pack up and just go home.

We have been to this park before for fishing in different areas and have really enjoyed ourselves. The staff is very friendly and helpful. The bathhouses for the most part are well maintained and cleaned.

I think my only complaint would be is the pads for the tens. When I got home I was patching holes in the floor of my tent from where the stone pad had caused damage. I know a seasoned camper would’ve put down a tarp but we didn’t have one and thought that we might be ok this trip with out one.

Had it not been for the monsoon rain storms we would’ve loved our trip but that is in the hands of Mother Nature no one else’s and that isn’t figured into my star rating. The reason I didn’t give it all fives is because of the stone pad that and you could hear traffic and air planes flying over.

Month of VisitJune
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Michelle  L., July 18, 2018
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Michelle  L., July 18, 2018
  • Review photo of McDowell Nature Preserve by Michelle  L., July 18, 2018
  • (4) View All
Nora C.
Reviewed Jun. 8, 2018

Small but clean, close to everything.

This campground is just minutes from Charlotte, but secluded from the city noise. Nice open spaces with shade. No views to speak of but several short trails and nice areas around Lake Wylie. Clean facilities and secured gate with easy access after hours for paid campers. Spaces have offerings and picnic tables. RV and tent sites with water and electric.

SiteTent camping
Month of VisitApril
J
Reviewed May. 2, 2018

Awesome Rangers

These people that run the office at the campground portion of the preserve are great folks. They help out when you need it and provide peace and quiet to the park. I loved staying there and will go back soon.

Site#6
Month of VisitApril
I
Reviewed Jan. 21, 2018

Great site close to city

We basically lived here in a tent, for 2 weeks in 2013, while waiting to close on our house when moving to Charlotte. We loved the education center, the small walking trails and lakeside area. Staff were polite and helpful. Washrooms are incredible! Newly renovated at the time, and clean! The primitive sites were quite small, but close enough to the amenities. It’s a shame you can’t swim in the lake from the beach. Otherwise perfect.

Month of VisitJune
Rick B.
Reviewed Sep. 25, 2016

What a campground should be

It is hard to believe that you are in the city limits of Charlotte in this campground. It is very rustic, with lots of trees and nature, and the campsites are nicely spaced out so you're not on top of other units. The campground is not terribly big rig friendly but still worth staying at when you are in the Charlotte Metro area. We stayed here in a Class C motorhome.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does McDowell Nature Preserve have RV hookups?

According to TheDyrt.com, McDowell Nature Preserve has water hookups and sewer hookups.

Are fires allowed at McDowell Nature Preserve?

Yes, according to campers on TheDyrt.com, fires are allowed at McDowell Nature Preserve, although make sure to check current fire restrictions in the area.

Does McDowell Nature Preserve have wifi?

Yes, according to campers on TheDyrt.com, McDowell Nature Preserve does have wifi.

Is there cell phone reception at McDowell Nature Preserve?

According to campers on TheDyrt.com, Verizon signal is good, AT&T is good, and T-Mobile is good.