North Carolina has over 320 miles of coastline and nearly 40 peaks over 6,000 feet, including Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains, and the uber-popular Chimney Rock State Park. In between the sea and the mountains you’ll find peaceful salt marshes, freshwater lakes, rambling rivers, wild rhododendron bursting with color, cascading waterfalls, and endless opportunities to pitch your tent (or park your camper) among them.
The Dyrt Campers’ Favorite Campgrounds in North Carolina
With the sun-swept Atlantic seashore and rolling Blue Ridge Mountains, camping in North Carolina means immersing yourself in a photogenic paradise. We’ve turned to The Dyrt campers for advice on which campgrounds in North Carolina top the list.
*Editor’s Note: Some of these campgrounds in North Carolina may be closed due to damage by Hurricane Florence. We advise checking the local State Parks website for up-to-date information on closures.
Located on Pleasure Island – a name no one can argue with – Carolina Beach State Park is a 761-acre coastal paradise that’s perfect for pitching your tent. Pine and oak trees shade the 83 available campsites, including two wheelchair accessible sites, and nine miles of trails loop hikers through sandy beaches and towering forest. For a fun and rare adventure, keep an eye out for the Venus flytraps that grow wild alongside the trail.
“I camped here with some friends late May. We had a wooded campground with plenty of space for multiple tents. We were just a short walk away from showers and bathrooms. The facilities were decently clean and nice. There was a beautiful inlet we could walk to and a marina that we enjoyed exploring. And just a few miles to the beach!” – The Dyrt camper Sarah M.Camp Here
Tucked just inside the borders of Pisgah National Forest, a densely forested land of tumbling waterfalls and tree-covered peaks, sits the Davidson River Campground. This North Carolina campground is located next to the Davidson River, a great spot for swimming, tubing and trout fishing. Though the 144-site campground, which accommodates both tents and RVs, feels like a world away, it’s located only 3 miles from charming Brevard, North Carolina with its many restaurants, breweries, and shops.
“Great location!!! Close to downtown Asheville and so many waterfall hikes all around! Our site was large, wooded, private and on the river. The campsite hosts were very helpful and everyone was so friendly! Highly recommend this campground!” — The Dyrt camper Doris S.Camp Here
Hanging Rock State Park can meet your needs no matter what you love to do in the great outdoors. With nearly twenty miles of hiking trails that lead to mountaintop views and cascading waterfalls, single-track mountain biking trails, rock climbing (with permit), and river access, the biggest question you’ll ask while camping is what you should get into next. The park offers 73 campsites that accommodate both tents and RVs as well as five group campsites.
“We had some awesome hikes here! The campground was so close to the trail heads and it was off season so we had the place to ourselves! Has a very safe feel to it- even when it’s just you there. Loved checking out the fall foliage- this place is a must see!” – The Dyrt camper Molly G.Camp Here
Famous for its easy-to-recognize namesake peak, Pilot Mountain State Park is a family-friendly outdoor paradise that campers flock to year-round. Situated under oak and hickory trees, the 49-campsite family camping area can accommodate tents or RVs.
If you want an added adventure, try one of the two paddle-in canoe campsites located along the shores of the Yadkin River, but make sure to reserve your spot in advance. No visit to Pilot Mountain State Park is complete without a hike up the family-friendly Little Pinnacle Overlook Trail for eye-popping views of Pilot Mountain and the peaks beyond.
“We took our 3 and 4-year-olds around the mountain which was very kid friendly and the views were wonderful. Fun for the whole family.” — The Dyrt Camper Kenneth M.Camp Here
If you like your campground with a side of city, Lake Powhatan not only offers natural wonders, it’s also just a quick drive from North Carolina’s famously outdoorsy city of Asheville. Bordering the hiking, running and mountain biking mecca of Bent Creek Experimental Forest, this campground offers great access to the trails and the swimmable waters of Lake Powhatan.
Opened from March through the end of December, Lake Powhatan Campground has 97 mostly shaded campsites, hot showers, flush toilets and is located on the banks of Lake Powhatan. For campers that want to spread their wings and explore the area, the North Carolina Arboretum and the Blue Ridge Parkway are both nearby.
“You would be hard pressed to find a bad site on this campground. Most, if not all, are moderate to full shade. There is adequate space between sites and the bathrooms are centrally located. The bathrooms are always kept clean, thanks to the hosts. Great hiking and biking right from campground!” – The Dyrt camper Penny A.Camp Here
National Park campgrounds make a great base for exploring the natural world and Smokemont Campground is no exception. Located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this 142-site campground accommodates both tent and RV campers. In the cooler months of November through mid-May, campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are recommended for the remainder of the year.
Aside from providing easy access to the diverse wildlife, high-elevation views and beauty of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this campground is also a favorite with fishermen because the Bradly Fork River flows right through it. Bears are active in the area, so follow all posted rules and recommendations for staying safe in bear country.
“This campground was great. Lovely location on the eastern side of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Easy access to many trails and spacious sites enabled a great getaway. No electricity, no cell reception means great, meaningful time with friends and family. Site B32 means you’re falling asleep to rushing creek water every night. Be prepared for rain, it’s what makes the Smokies beautiful.” — The Dyrt camper Stacy R.Camp Here
7. Mount Pisgah
Located right off of one of the most scenic stretches of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mount Pisgah campground is perfectly located to explore all of the high-altitude hiking nearby. The 127-site campground accommodates tents, trailers and RVs. The campground does not have electricity, but RV campers won’t miss their hookups. With an altitude of nearly 5,000 feet, the nights are often cool year-round.
The Frying Pan Trail, which begins in the campground, leads hikers to Frying Pan Fire Tower, an old lookout tower that can be climbed for mind-boggling views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Bring your headlamp for a sunrise or sunset hike to the top of the tower and you won’t be disappointed.
“I was very pleased with my experience. The campsites are not very expensive and they are a good size. Each site had a “bear trashcan”, because Black Bears do live in the area. It had nice restrooms & showers for those who don’t like to do the call of nature in nature. There is some good hiking trails nearby and of course, the hike up to Mt. Pisgah is a good short, but technical hike.” – The Dyrt camper Tony C.Camp Here
8. Julian Price
Some people love the water and some love the mountains. But campers that refuse to choose will love Julian Price Campground which sits adjacent to Price Lake, a 47-acre body of water popular with kayakers, canoeists and fishermen.
The 197-site campground is open seasonally and has 119 tent sites, 78 RV sites and five wheelchair-accessible sites. In addition to the fun that’s available on the water, campers also have access to two loop hikes and two long trails that run near the campground, including the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
“This park is right on a gorgeous lake. There is a spot within the park to rent kayaks which was great. There is a hiking trail that goes around the lake. There’s also a trail that you can access from the park that leads to Hebron Rock Colony which is an incredible hiking trail. The trail follows a river with lots of great swimming holes and the rock colony is incredible. Awesome place to camp!” – The Dyrt camper Danielle L.Camp Here
Campers that love to get away from it all will fall in love with camping at Goose Creek State Park, which offers a primitive camping experience with 14 well-spaced tent sites. Pit toilets and drinking water spigots are available but the campground does not have electricity or a shower house.
The park itself offers campers a coastal paradise. Live oaks drip in Spanish moss and swampy wetlands wait to be explored by an extensive network of boardwalk trails. For those that want to dip their toes into the water, there’s also a sandy swim beach as well as a ramp for canoe or kayak launches.
“Goose Creek has good campsites scattered about in a stand of long leaf pine. The sites are spacious, well equipped and well spaced (private). There are several water stations and composting toilets (no showers). There are plenty of good hiking trails as well. A wonderful spot.” – The Dyrt camper Chip G.Camp Here