This article about camping near Nantahala National Forest is brought to you by Wenzel. Their two room tents will make these campgrounds even cozier.


The Nantahala National Forest is the second wettest region of the U.S., after the Pacific Northwest, and this moisture results in beautiful, verdant forests and tumbling waterfalls. You may think that you’ve been transported to the pacific rainforest of Oregon or Washington, when really you’re in western North Carolina, in the Nantahala National Forest.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an angler, a hiker, or a birdwatcher; there’s always something to keep you occupied in this breathtaking corner of North Carolina. These 7 campgrounds showcase what’s best about Nantahala National Forest camping.

The Best Camping near Nantahala National Forest

map of campgrounds near Nantahala national forest





1. Jackrabbit Mountain

dock at the edge of wooded waters

This campground is located on a peninsula jutting into Lake Chatuge and has fabulous mountain views from almost every site. Three loops make up the campground, with some of the sites sitting right on the water’s edge.

Showers, flush toilets, and a boat ramp fill out the amenities at Jackrabbit Mountain. If you’re here in July, take advantage of the Georgia Festival, one of the area’s most popular events.

“The water is almost crystal clear, and most sites are on the lake.”Mike P.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $20-40
  • Number of sites: 92
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

2. Van Hook Glade

trailer parked in forested campspot

Image from The Dyrt camper Darlene R.

Close to Highlands, North Carolina, in the heart of the Nantahala National Forest, Van Hook Glade is a secluded, small campground that not many know about but none who visit can easily forget.

Cliffside Recreation Area is only a short hike away, and there you can hike on trails of varying levels, from easy to difficult. There are lots of swimmers and anglers on the lake, but boating isn’t permitted. With amply wooded and shady campsites, Van Hook Glade has hot showers and flush toilets, and you can buy firewood on-site.

“Close proximity to the Horseshoe Falls and other great hikes.”Rick B.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $24-40
  • Number of sites: 18
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

3. Cheoah Point Campground

water and forest

Image from The Dyrt camper Kristine F.

In western North Carolina, on a peninsula jutting into Lake Santeetlah, Cheoah Point Campground features 17 first-come, first-served spots, although the RV sites with electric hookups are reservable.

The main reason folks flock to Cheoah Point Campground is the gorgeous water views and the sunsets over the mountains. Anglers also love the abundance of walleye, trout, bass, bream, crappie. Hikers can access the famed Appalachian Trail via the Wauchecha Bald Trail.

“This was a nicely maintained campground with clean bathrooms and showers.”K.C.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $20-40
  • Number of sites: 23
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

4. Standing Indian Campground

kids playing with intertubes in the river

Image from The Dyrt camper Chris G.

Whether you’re exploring the Appalachian Trail or the Nantahala River, Standing Indian Campground is the perfect launching pad for many adventures in the western corner of North Carolina’s Nantahala Park. The campground consists of 4 loops with lots of options but no hookups.

“A beautiful trout stream runs through the park, close to all the campsites.”John K.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $20-40
  • Number of sites: 78
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

5. Horse Cove Campground

people and dog playing in the river

Image from The Dyrt camper Katie S.

This small campground sits right next to a rushing creek, steps from the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, an old-growth forest of towering giants in Nantahala National Forest. At some sites, you can camp next to Little Santeetlah Creek, a rushing mountain stream.

Horse Cove Campground is made up of two loops, an upper and a lower. The former isn’t open in the winter months, and when it is open, it’s only available to mid-sized trailers and smaller ones. There’s no water in the winter months either.

“One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever camped.”Katie S.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $15
  • Number of sites: 18
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

6. Cable Cove Recreation Area

 

water at sunset

Image from The Dyrt camper Robin W.

Only 4 miles from the Appalachian Trail and Fontana Dam, Cable Cove Recreation Area offers visitors shaded, spaced-out sites in a forest of old hardwood trees next to a meandering stream.

There are fishing opportunities in the stream and lake, and canoeists and kayakers love it. On busy days, the boat ramp access point can get a little crowded, but for the most part, this campground lets you explore some of the most charming scenery in the Nantahala National Forest in peace.

No hookups are available, not even showers, but there are vault toilets; some pads are gravel, others grass. If you need a last minute stop, there are some convenience stores around the dam, less than 10 minutes away.

“VIEWS can not be matched.”Robin W.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $5-20
  • Number of sites: 26
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

7. Tsali Campground

truck and tent set up at campsite

Image from The Dyrt camper Olivier S.

The most frequent visitors to the Tsali Campground and adjacent Recreation Area are mountain bikers and equestrians. With a wide array of trail difficulty, the Tsali Rec Area is best known for its moderately difficult biking trails, the Right and Left Loop Systems, which include miles of challenging features and gorgeous scenery.

If you plan on visiting with either your horse or your bike, take care to check the alternating-use schedule. Hikers are always allowed on trails, but equestrians and bikers must take turns – one day on and one day off.

There are no hookups at this campground, and it cannot accommodate big trailers, but it has hot water, showers, and access to Fontana Lake and Nantahala National Forest.

“There are water spigots, but not at camping sites. Shower and bathrooms on each loop.”Mark C.

Campground Details:

  • Price: $20
  • Number of sites: 42
  • RV sites: Yes
  • Fires allowed: Yes
  • Pets allowed: Yes

You’re never far from the water when you visit one of these 7 Nantahala National Forest camping spots. For the complete selection, use The Dyrt’s full list of the best camping in North Carolina.


This article about camping near Nantahala National Forest was brought to you by Wenzel. Their pop-up shelters will keep you cool and shaded while hanging around any of these campgrounds.

Popular Articles:

  • Get the Latest 2021 Camping Travel Trends in our Year in Review
  • Best Travel Trailer Accessories of 2020
  • Top RV Must Haves for Newbies
  • Best RV Camping Tips and Tricks for First-Timers
  • 7 of the Best RV Trips for Your Next Summer Vacation
  • Just Bought a Camper Van? Read This Before you Hit the Road
  • 9 Resources and Guides for New Full-Time Campers
  • Stay Prepared with this First-Time Travel Trailer Owner Checklist
  • 8 RV Packing Tips for Beginners