North Carolina is in the southeastern region of the United States. The state is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. With its diverse landscapes that range from the majestic Appalachian Mountains to the tranquil coastal plains, the Tar Heel state offers a plethora of camping opportunities for those who seek to reconnect with nature.
Here, we will explore the best camping spots in North Carolina, where you can pitch a tent, build a bonfire, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Tar Heel State.
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
As one of the most visited national parks in the United States, Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a stunning camping experience. Located in the western part of North Carolina, it is famous for its misty mountains, lush forests, and vibrant wildflowers.
With over 800 miles of hiking trails, including a section of the Appalachian Trail, camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a dream come true for avid hikers and backpackers. The park offers 10 developed campgrounds, including Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont, which provide a range of amenities such as restrooms, showers, and picnic areas.
The campsites are nestled in serene woodlands, providing a peaceful retreat for camping enthusiasts.
2. Pisgah National Forest
Located in western North Carolina, Pisgah National Forest is a sprawling wilderness that offers a variety of camping opportunities. Encompassing over 500,000 acres, this forest offers rugged mountains, cascading waterfalls, and dense forests.
There are several campgrounds within Pisgah National Forest, including Davidson River, North Mills River, and Lake Powhatan, which offer both tent and RV camping options. The campsites are nestled in scenic locations, providing a perfect base for exploring the forest’s numerous hiking trails, mountain biking trails, and fishing spots.
Pisgah National Forest is also home to several iconic landmarks, including Looking Glass Rock and Sliding Rock, which are popular among outdoor enthusiasts.
3. Cape Hatteras National Seashore
For those who prefer camping by the beach, Cape Hatteras National Seashore on the Outer Banks of North Carolina is a top choice. This national seashore stretches over 70 miles along the Atlantic coastline and offers pristine sandy beaches, windswept dunes, and historic lighthouses.
There are four campgrounds within Cape Hatteras National Seashore, including Cape Point, Frisco, Ocracoke, and Oregon Inlet, which offer both tent and RV camping options. The campsites are located close to the beach, providing easy access to the ocean for swimming, fishing, and water sports.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore is also known for its picturesque sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, making camping here a truly memorable experience.
4. Linville Gorge Wilderness
For a more rugged and remote camping experience, the Linville Gorge Wilderness in western North Carolina is a must-visit destination. Also known as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Linville Gorge is a rugged wilderness area known for its deep gorges, towering cliffs, and pristine forests.
There are several primitive campsites scattered along the Linville Gorge Rim Trail, which offer a backcountry camping experience for those who are willing to hike and backpack to reach their camping spot. The campsites are basic, with no amenities such as restrooms or showers, but the breathtaking views of the gorge and the opportunity to stargaze in the remote wilderness make it a unique camping experience for adventurous campers.
5. Uwharrie National Forest
In the center of North Carolina, Uwharrie National Forest offers a unique camping experience with its rolling hills, lush forests, and sparkling lakes. This forest is rich with recreational opportunities, including camping, hiking, mountain biking, and off-roading.
There are several campgrounds within Uwharrie National Forest, including Arrowhead Campground, Badin Lake Campground, and Wood Run Trailhead Campground, which offer both tent and RV camping options. The campsites are nestled in peaceful woodlands and are equipped with basic amenities such as restrooms, picnic tables, and fire rings.
Uwharrie National Forest also offers miles of hiking and biking trails, including the popular Uwharrie Trail, which provides stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.
6. Stone Mountain State Park
Situated in northwestern North Carolina, Stone Mountain State Park is a scenic destination for camping and outdoor recreation. This park has a unique granite dome, which rises over 600 feet above the surrounding landscape, and its picturesque waterfalls. There are over 90 tent and RV campsites available in Stone Mountain State Park, including family campsites, group campsites, and backpacking campsites.
The campsites are located in wooded areas and are equipped with amenities such as restrooms, showers, and picnic tables. Stone Mountain State Park also offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, rock climbing, and stargazing, making it a popular destination for camping enthusiasts.
7. Lake James State Park
Located in western North Carolina, Lake James State Park is a scenic destination for camping and water-based recreation. This park is known for its pristine lake, which offers opportunities for swimming, boating, fishing, and kayaking. There are two campgrounds within Lake James State Park, including Paddy’s Creek Campground and Catawba River Campground, which offer both tent and RV camping options.
The campsites are located along the shores of Lake James, providing scenic lake views and easy access to water-based activities. Lake James State Park also offers hiking and biking trails, as well as educational programs and nature programs, making it a great destination for families and nature lovers alike.
8. Hanging Rock State Park
Available in the northern part of North Carolina, Hanging Rock State Park is a picturesque destination for camping and outdoor adventure. This park has rugged peaks, scenic waterfalls, and panoramic views. There are over 70 tent and RV campsites available in Hanging Rock State Park, including family campsites and group campsites.
The campsites are in wooded areas and have amenities such as restrooms, showers, and picnic tables. Hanging Rock State Park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, rock climbing, fishing, and swimming in the park’s lake and natural pools. The park also has educational programs and nature programs, making it a great destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts.
While you uncover the fascinating camping spots in North Carolina, you may also want to expand your nature expeditions to a neighboring state; browse our guide to the Best Virginia Waterfalls.
In conclusion, North Carolina is a paradise for camping enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of camping spots that cater to various preferences and interests. From the majestic mountains to the serene beaches, North Carolina’s camping spots offer breathtaking natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
Whether you prefer the mountains, forests, lakes, or beaches, there is a camping spot in North Carolina that will suit your preferences. So pack your camping gear, hit the road, and embark on an unforgettable camping adventure in the Tar Heel State!