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Just across the Virginia state line, this national forest offers multiple dispersed camping areas along Beaver Dam Creek. Opportunities for hiking, cycling, fishing, and paddling are abundant. Most of campsites are large, very shaded, along a beautiful treelined road, and surrounded by mountains.
There is no drinking water, picnic tables, or even pit toilet, so come prepared. The only major problem is that folks tend to leave a ton of trash around, so we often spend about 20-30 minutes cleaning these sites upon arrival. Please Leave No Trace! Our site had a good fire ring, and was on the edge of a creek that we could filter water from with ease. Would not recommend for any vehicle larger than 20 feet as the potholed road and the tight turns to get up to the camp from the road would be tough. 4WD highly recommended, especially in mud season or winter.
We stayed at this camp for 10 days during the pandemic shutdown and it was a lovely place to ride out this crazy storm. Some road noise from the motorcycles that cruise the road, but only occasionally. The closest town is Damascus, VA, about 5 miles away. The town is small, but draws thousands of tourists each year who are either hiking the Appalachian Trail or cycling the famous Virginia Creeper bike path. It is equipped with a decent sized grocery store, gas, and couple of restaurants, and a cute downtown area. There is absolutely no cell service at this camp, you have to go into town or hike a local mountain to get service up high.
Just on the edge of Watauga Lake sits this free dispersed camping area that is perfect for tent camping only. This is a park outside the gate and walk your gear in type of place, some bring your IKEA bags or a wagon. Opportunities for fishing and boating are abundant. Most of campsites are large, very shaded, and have at least one fire ring. A handful of sites have direct water access, and are more private.
There is no drinking water, picnic tables, or even pit toilet, so come prepared. The only major problem is that folks tend to leave a ton of trash around, so we spent about an hour cleaning the entire campground. Please Leave No Trace! Also, we would not recommend camping here on a busy weekend because the road is very close and the trucks are very loud!
The nearest town is Butler, which is small but offers the basics such as groceries and gas.
Great sites right by the river for tents, various unique styles of “cabin camping” along the river and off the river, great staff (brings wood to you!) and if you have family members who don’t wanna rough it they have a great bar(beer, food, music)by the river with WIFI. Everybody wins. Launch your raft or theirs and enjoy the outdoors.
This park is right on the banks of the Nolichuckey river. It had nice trails for hiking. There is river access for fishing or launching a water craft. We were there in December when the weather was chilly and practically had the place to ourselves. The bathhouse was exceptionally nice and there was also laundry and wifi available.
Stayed here with a group and had an awesome time. So many hiking trails in this area, the river, then there’s “The Snake” US 421 motorcycle route and the Virginia Creeper hike/bike trail nearby. Basic campground, picnic tables, huge fire rings and a pit toilet. The river runs the back of the campground. There’s a cool rock formation falls that you can sit at or wade. Then there’s the natural arch that’s right over the road. Dark and quiet at night, so relaxing with the water. There’s a big pavilion and picnic area at the end of the campground. Loved camping here.
You really can’t pass this one up. If you are road tripping from Great Smokey to Shenandoah this is the perfect one or two night way point. We opted for two nights and were stunned with the views from the hemlock loop. We booked before the site filled up and got the best site of the loop — site 006. I don’t know if we’ll ever be back because it was a bit out of the way for us.
It is primarily a boat/fishing recreation area in Cherokee National Forest, but it works as a perfect get away. Similar to other NF campgrounds the sites are huge and offering full or partial shade. We lucked out and got there during peak autumn colors. Being that we booked a month out we didn’t realize the campground would close the other loops our weekend causing our loop to be full the whole weekend. The atmosphere was respectful.
We did a day trip to Asheville, NC since we are not boat ppl and got to experience a great day in the city.
These are largely primitive sites, but offer some great amenities regardless. Very big picnic tables, shared water, bathrooms, and a boat ramp.
Alcohol isn’t permitted but it seemed like everyone ignores that rule. Bring your own firewood as what they were offering needed to be chopped. We didn’t bring our axe so we had to run out for some wood at a gas station.
Also the road into the campsite has several switchbacks and blind turns. Locals breeze through it, but if you are hauling an very large trailer/RV be prepared. It would be tough to make some of these turns in a vehicle the size of a greyhound.
Sunset is worth it. If we can come back, we will.
The road in is a little narrow, but well maintained and easily navigable. Sites are heavily wooded, fairly well spaced, and most sites have a level area, but you have to back all the way in to get level on some. We were in site B16, which had no satellite coverage until most of the leaves fell. B Loop sites are 30A only. The website says there is shared water, which there is, but in B Loop, you can’t hook a hose to it to fill your tank, as the spigot is not threaded. C Loop had at least some threaded spigots. OTA TV was limited to 4 channels(PBS) with our omni antenna. There is no WiFi. AT&T had 1 bar and 0.8 MB/s w/o a booster, 2 bars and 2.4 MB/s with it. The bathrooms/showers were fairly clean and well maintained, but showing their age. There is a nice, but fairly strenuous 4 mile up and back trail from the campground to Rock Creek Falls. Campground was mostly empty during the week, maybe 8 or 10 out of 31 sites occupied, but completely full on the weekend.
In our trip from Arkansas to the east coast we reserved two nights here based on reviews. I’m sure COVID-19 had a lot to do with the park being in shut down mode but we found the park to be so bad we left after one night. Sites we were assigned were very difficult to get in, extremely unlevel and the sites were unkept and showed a lack of maintenance. We were there on 9/22/20 and the flying knat’s and bugs wouldn’t let you out of the door. My water hookup required a set of pliers to operate and the 30amp plug was installed upside down making it impossible to plug in due to the box being jacked up. Had to use the 50 amp plug/converter. We won’t be back. Hope things change for the better.