As a nature enthusiast, I’ve found North Carolina to be an idyllic destination. The allure of its Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains is undeniable, offering a plethora of outdoor activities that cater to my adventurous spirit. Whether it’s hiking along scenic trails, fishing in serene lakes, rafting through exciting rapids, cycling on picturesque paths, or skiing down snowy slopes, this place has it all.
Additionally, the vibrant city of Asheville is conveniently nestled in these mountains. It’s a delightful urban oasis where I enjoy immersing myself in art, savoring diverse culinary delights, and exploring the thriving craft brewery scene. And of course, a visit to the grand Biltmore Estate is always a highlight of my trips here.
With so much to do and see, the only thing left is to find the perfect spot to camp. And thankfully, the North Carolina mountains are dotted with some of the best RV campgrounds, offering cozy retreats amidst this natural paradise.
Top RV Campgrounds in North Carolina Mountains
1. Hanging Rock State Park: Geologic Wonder and Outdoor Haven
I recently visited Hanging Rock State Park, one of the premier RV campgrounds in the North Carolina mountains, and I was absolutely captivated by its unique geological features and the wealth of outdoor activities it offers. Here’s my experience:
- Location: Just about 30 miles north of Winston-Salem, nestled in the Sauratown Mountain Range, named after the Saura people, early inhabitants of the area.
- Elevation: The park’s towering peaks reach just under 2,600 feet, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding county.
The park’s name comes from a dramatic quartzite cliff that “hangs” over the valley below. Established in 1936, it initially spanned 3,100 acres but has impressively expanded to over 7,900 acres since 2015.
While staying at the 73-site campground, I embraced the rustic charm of dry camping. Though there were no hook-ups for my RV, the availability of picnic tables, grills, drinking water, and showers made the stay comfortable and convenient.
- Outdoor Activities: The park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re into hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, paddling, or fishing, there’s something for everyone.
- Trails: Over 20 miles of multi-use trails wind through the park, suitable for hiking, riding, or biking, plus an additional 8.4 miles dedicated to mountain biking.
- Accessibility: There’s even a 0.1-mile path leading to the Rock Garden, accommodating those with mobility impairments.
For fishing enthusiasts like myself, the park’s small lake was perfect for casting a line for sunfish, bass, or catfish. Canoe and rowboat rentals are available, making it easy to explore the lake’s serene waters. And the Dan River nearby offers even more opportunities for water-based recreation.
Rock climbing enthusiasts will find their challenge on the 400-foot-high Cook’s Wall and Moore’s Wall. It’s exhilarating!
And for those days when I just wanted to relax, the picnic areas, concession stand, and exhibit hall provided the perfect setting to unwind and enjoy the park’s natural beauty.
2. Davidson River Campground: The Forest Retreat Near Asheville
If you’re planning a camping trip in the North Carolina mountains, you definitely should consider Davidson River Campground. Located just a short, scenic drive from Asheville and about four miles west of Brevard, this campground is open all year round and offers a variety of activities that the whole family can enjoy.
Imagine yourself nestled in the heart of Pisgah National Forest, surrounded by mile-high peaks, dense hardwood and conifer forests, and stunning waterfalls. With an elevation of 2,150 feet, the natural beauty here is truly breathtaking.
Here are some highlights of what you can expect:
- Location and Attractions: You’re near the famous Looking Glass Falls, the picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway, and the fun-filled Sliding Rock. Plus, a quick trip to Asheville lets you enjoy lunch, shopping, or an art gallery visit.
- Camping Experience: The campground itself is divided into eight loops, some of which are adjacent to water. Each campsite is well-shaded, offering a peaceful retreat. You’ll find picnic tables, campfire rings with grills, and lantern posts at each site. For added comfort, hot showers and flush toilets are available.
- Outdoor Activities: Take advantage of easy access to fishing spots, waterfalls, and hiking trails. Whether you’re an avid angler, a hiking enthusiast, or just looking to soak in the beauty of nature, there’s something here for you.
- Conveniences: Need firewood or ice? You can buy these essentials onsite. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s also the option to rent bikes nearby and explore the area on two wheels.
3. Lake Powhatan Recreation Area and Campground: Asheville’s Nearby Natural Getaway
My girlfriend recently came back from a camping trip with her friends at Lake Powhatan Recreation Area and Campground, and she couldn’t stop talking about how amazing it was. Just a 10-minute drive from Asheville, she loved how it offered the perfect blend of natural beauty and accessibility to cultural attractions. Here’s what she shared about her experience:
- Setting: Nestled in a densely wooded area along the shores of Lake Powhatan in the Appalachian Mountains, she was enthralled by the tranquility of the surroundings. The campground, sitting at an elevation of 2,200 feet, is surrounded by mile-high peaks, dense forests, and stunning waterfalls.
- Activities: They spent their days hiking and mountain biking on the numerous trails around the campground. She mentioned how convenient it was to have hiking and biking trails right near their campsite. Plus, they enjoyed the interpretive programs offered during the summer.
- Lake Fun: Lake Powhatan was a huge hit with her group. They lounged on the sandy beach by the lake and even tried their hand at trout fishing in the lake and the nearby French Broad River. Boat rentals were available, which they took full advantage of, although she noted that personal watercrafts are not allowed.
- Campground Amenities: The campground itself is divided into four loops. Each campsite, equipped with a picnic table, fire ring with grill, and lantern post, offered the comforts of home in a rustic setting. She was particularly pleased that some sites offered RV hook-ups, making it convenient for their group.
- Convenience: The small on-site store was a lifesaver for them, providing firewood, ice, and other small essentials they needed during their stay.
She described the evenings as magical, with dinner cooked over an open fire and stories shared under the stars. The combination of adventure during the day and relaxation in the evening made her trip to Lake Powhatan an unforgettable experience. It’s definitely on her list of top campgrounds in the NC mountains, and she can’t wait to go back.
4. Pilot Mountain State Park: Elevate Your Adventure
I recently had the pleasure of visiting Pilot Mountain State Park, situated in the counties of Surrey and Yadkin, about 20 miles northwest of Winston-Salem. The experience was nothing short of spectacular, with the park’s most striking feature being the iconic Big Pinnacle, a geological wonder that once served as a navigational landmark for the Saura tribe.
The outdoor adventures at Pilot Mountain State Park are truly exceptional. I spent my days exploring the various trails that weave around the base of the mountain. The hike up to Little Pinnacle, along the Yadkin River, offered some of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen. The blend of challenging and scenic trails made each hike an exciting and rewarding experience.
For adrenaline seekers, the park offers rock climbing and rappelling opportunities. I’m not much of a climber myself, but watching others tackle the sheer rock faces was thrilling. The skill and bravery of the climbers were truly impressive.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the park is that it encompasses two major North Carolina trails – the Yadkin River paddle trail and the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail. The diversity of these trails provides a unique experience for both hikers and paddlers and being able to explore both in one park was a real treat.
5. Julian Price: Lakeside Camping on the Blue Ridge Parkway
My colleague recently visited Julian Price Campground, located along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, and couldn’t stop raving about it. Known as one of the best RV campgrounds in the North Carolina mountains, it offers a plethora of activities for nature lovers. Here’s what stood out from his experience:
- Location: Julian Price Campground sits adjacent to the stunning Price Lake, offering a picturesque setting against the backdrop of rolling hills.
- Scenic Drive: The campground is part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile byway that traverses the high crests of the central and southern Appalachian mountains, stretching from Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
In his words, the campground was a family-friendly paradise. He emphasized the range of activities available:
- Water Activities: Price Lake was a major highlight. He and his family rented canoes and enjoyed the serene beauty of the lake. The lake also welcomes other non-motorized boats, making it a perfect spot for those who love to paddle.
- Fishing and Boating: As an avid angler, he appreciated the opportunity to fish in the lake. The calm waters also made for an excellent boating experience.
He described the campground as an ideal mix of natural beauty and recreational activities. Whether it was spending a quiet afternoon canoeing on the lake or just soaking in the scenic views, Julian Price Campground provided a memorable escape into nature. It’s a spot he highly recommends for anyone traveling through the NC mountains, especially for families looking for a blend of adventure and relaxation.
6. Smokemont Campground: The Rustic Charm in the Smokies
Smokemont Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a gem that I had the chance to explore. Perched on a ridge straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, it offers a rustic and authentic camping experience that I found both refreshing and invigorating.
Here’s what made my stay at Smokemont Campground memorable:
- RV Camping: The campground caters to RV campers, offering dry camping sites. The lack of electric, water, or sewer hook-ups really brought me closer to nature. It’s important to note, though, that some accessible sites do offer a 5 amp electric hookup for medical equipment, which I found to be a thoughtful inclusion.
- Facilities: While there are no showers, the availability of restrooms with flush toilets added a level of comfort to the camping experience.
- Activities: The array of activities was impressive. I spent my days fishing in the pristine waters, picnicking in scenic spots, and engaging in wildlife viewing. The hiking trails were diverse, offering both challenging and leisurely options. Auto touring around the park was a great way to take in the stunning views.
- Nearby Attractions: The proximity to cultural attractions like the Museum of Cherokee Indian and the Oconaluftee Indian Village enriched my understanding of the area’s history and culture.
7. Linville Falls Campground: Nature’s Serenity by the Blue Ridge Parkway
My friend recently visited Linville Falls RV Park, situated just off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, and her experience was nothing short of fantastic. Tucked away in a lush forest of oaks, this privately owned campground left a lasting impression on her with its tranquil environment and excellent amenities.
Here’s what she loved about Linville Falls RV Park:
- Campsite Options: She appreciated the variety of sites available. Whether it was full hook-up sites for RVs or those with just water and electric, the park catered to different camping preferences, which she found very convenient.
- Family-Friendly Amenities: The highlight for her kids was the playground with a play structure shaped like a boat. She mentioned how this unique feature kept the children entertained for hours.
- Pet-Friendly: As a dog owner, she was thrilled to find a dog park within the campground. It was a great space for her furry companion to run and play.
- Interactive Website: Before her trip, she explored the park’s interactive gallery on its website. The scrollable pictures gave her a good sense of what to expect and helped her plan her stay effectively.
- Serene Environment: Nestled among the oak trees, the park offered a peaceful and natural setting. She described the mornings as particularly magical with the mist rising off the surrounding forest.
8. Deep Creek Tube Center & Campground: Family Adventures in Bryson City
My sister had spent some time at Deep Creek Tube Center & Campground near Bryson City, North Carolina, and she came back with some wonderful stories. Known for its family-friendly atmosphere and a variety of outdoor activities, it was the perfect spot for her adventurous spirit.
Here’s what she shared about her experience:
- Tubing on Deep Creek: The highlight of her trip was tubing down Deep Creek. The campground offers tube rentals, making it super convenient. She described the experience as both relaxing and exhilarating, floating down the gentle currents with beautiful scenery all around.
- Gem Panning: She also tried her hand at panning for gems at the Deep Creek Tube Center Mining Company. It was a fun and unique activity that added a touch of adventure to her stay.
- Campsite Options: The campground impressed her with its variety of sites. From creekside spots where the sound of the water was soothing at night, to sites with full power and hook-ups, as well as big rig and pull-through sites, it catered to all kinds of campers.
- Facilities: She particularly appreciated the large, clean bathhouse with showers. For her, having access to such well-maintained facilities made the camping experience much more comfortable.
- Overall Atmosphere: The family-friendly vibe of the campground made her stay enjoyable. She found the staff and fellow campers to be friendly and welcoming, which added to the overall positive experience.
9. Cheoah Point Campground: Lake Santeetlah’s Camping Oasis
My colleague recently returned from an adventurous stay at Cheoah Point Campground in the Nantahala National Forest, and her tales were nothing short of enchanting. Nestled by the serene Lake Santeetlah, this campground offered her a delightful blend of nature’s tranquility and the thrill of outdoor activities.
- Electric Hookups: The campsite catered to modern needs with 15/30/50 amp electrical hookups.
- Facilities: The presence of flush toilets, hot showers, and drinking water made the stay comfortable amidst the wilderness.
Lake Santeetlah’s Allure
- Water Activities: The lake was a playground for boating, canoeing, jet skiing, fishing, and swimming, offering a refreshing escape.
- Scenic Boat Ramp: Access to the boat ramp allowed for easy exploration of the lake’s tranquil waters.
- Trail Exploration: The campground served as a gateway to numerous trails, including the Wauchecha Bald Trail, which connects to the legendary Appalachian Trail.
Merging Nature with Comfort
- Seamless Blend: While immersed in nature, the campground’s amenities ensured a balance of outdoor excitement and necessary comforts.
A Symphony with Nature
- Serene Ambiance: The combination of the forest’s tranquility and the lake’s gentle rhythm created an enchanting atmosphere, perfect for a nature-filled getaway.
10. Grandfather Campground: A Year-Round Retreat
Grandfather Campground, an RV and cabin park, is conveniently situated near some of North Carolina’s most picturesque locations: Grandfather Mountain, Blowing Rock, Boone, and Banner Elk. Its year-round availability, including ski season, makes it a perfect destination for all seasons.
- RV Accommodations: The campground offers RV sites with 30 and 50 amp full hookups, catering to various power needs.
- Amenities Galore: Campers have access to a range of amenities including a convenient campground store, a laundromat for those longer stays, and a fun-filled playground for kids.
- Deluxe Bathhouses: Ensuring comfort and cleanliness, the deluxe bathhouses are a welcome feature for all campers.
- Stocked Trout Pond: For fishing enthusiasts, the on-site stocked trout pond offers a unique and relaxing angling experience.
- Hiking Opportunities: The area is a hiker’s paradise, with numerous trails offering scenic views and a chance to explore the natural beauty of the region.
- Fishing and Views: Besides the campground’s trout pond, the surrounding area offers ample fishing opportunities and countless spots to enjoy the breathtaking mountain vistas.
3 Virginia Bonus Parks
1. Explore Park
My brother recently ventured to Explore Park, where he immersed himself in the great outdoors, and he came back with some incredible stories. Despite the compact size of the RV sites, he found the park’s wealth of activities made up for it.
RV Site Details
- Size and Utilities: The RV sites measured 12-foot by 35-foot, equipped with 50 amp electricity. While there were no water or sewer hookups, he mentioned a conveniently located water spigot for basic needs like cooking and brushing teeth.
The Buzz of Activity
- Popularity: He noticed that the site was quite popular, bustling with fellow campers and outdoor enthusiasts. The lively atmosphere added to the experience, although he advised that it might not be for those seeking solitude.
- Hiking and Biking Trails: Explore Park is on the edge of a 1,100-acre park, boasting some prime hiking and biking trails. He spent most of his time exploring these trails, enjoying the scenic beauty.
- Water Activities: Fishing and canoeing on the Roanoke River were highlights of his trip. He found the river’s tranquility juxtaposed with the excitement of the catch quite captivating.
- Sports and Fun: The park’s 18-hole disc golf course, Treetop Quest obstacle course, and ziplining added an adventurous edge to his stay.
- Year-Round Availability: He appreciated that the sites were available year-round, noting that December through March is the offseason, which might offer a quieter experience.
2. Floyd Family Campground (previously Chantilly Farm)
I had the pleasure of staying at Floyd Family Campground, previously known as Chantilly Farm, located along the serene Blue Ridge Parkway. Unlike the bustling atmosphere of Explore Park, this campground offered a peaceful retreat with breathtaking views.
The Essence of Relaxation
- Scenery: The campground is surrounded by stunning landscapes that are simply captivating. I found myself lost in the beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway, with vistas that are indeed ‘to die for’.
- Hookup Variety: The campground offers a range of hookup options to suit different camping styles, from full water, electric, and septic hookups to more secluded sites with partial hookups.
- Boondocking at Hilltop Dry: For those who enjoy boondocking like Jennifer and I, the Hilltop Dry site is a gem. With its majestic views, it’s an ideal spot for stargazing. I was thankful I had brought my stargazing kit – the night sky was a spectacular sight.
Activities and Leisure
- Recreational Options: While it doesn’t have as many activities as Explore Park, there’s still plenty to keep one entertained. I enjoyed the 9-hole disc golf course and took advantage of the numerous biking, hiking, and running trails.
- Birdwatching Paradise: The area is also popular among birdwatchers, and I could see why. The variety of birds and the tranquil setting made for a delightful birdwatching experience.
3. Rocky Knob & Mabry Mill
While it lacks electric RV hookups, the opportunity to camp near the picturesque Meadowlands, surrounded by lush green pastures and breathtaking seasonal flowers, more than makes up for it.
Visiting the Rock Castle Gorge is an absolute must, as is exploring the nearby Mabry Mill, a historic gristmill and sawmill.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What types of RV hookups are available at these campgrounds?
- Hanging Rock State Park: Dry camping only, no hookups.
- Davidson River Campground: Offers various hookups including electric.
- Lake Powhatan: Some sites have RV hookups.
- Pilot Mountain State Park: No RV hookups.
- Julian Price Campground: Sites with electric hookups available.
- Smokemont Campground: Dry camping, with some sites having a 5 amp electric hookup for medical equipment.
- Linville Falls Campground: Full hook-up sites and water/electric sites available.
- Deep Creek Tube Center & Campground: Offers full power and hook-ups.
- Cheoah Point Campground: 15/30/50 amp electrical hookups available.
- Grandfather Campground: 30 and 50 amp full hookups.
- Explore Park: 12-foot by 35-foot sites with 50 amp electricity, no water or sewer hookups.
- Floyd Family Campground: Various hookup options including full water, electric, and septic.
- Rocky Knob & Mabry Mill: No electric RV hookups.
2. Are there facilities like showers and toilets available?
Most campgrounds have basic amenities like restrooms and showers, except for a few like Smokemont Campground, which doesn’t have showers.
3. Can I bring my pet?
Many campgrounds are pet-friendly, like Linville Falls Campground which has a dog park. However, it’s advisable to check specific pet policies for each campground.
4. What kind of outdoor activities can I engage in?
Activities vary by location but generally include hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing, and wildlife viewing. Some like Explore Park offer unique activities like disc golf and ziplining.
5. Are these campgrounds suitable for families with children?
Yes, many of these campgrounds, such as Julian Price and Grandfather Campground, are family-friendly with playgrounds and safe, fun environments for children.
6. Is advanced booking required for these campgrounds?
For popular campgrounds, especially during peak seasons, it’s highly recommended to book in advance.
7. Are campgrounds open year-round?
Most are open year-round, like Grandfather Campground, but some have offseasons like Explore Park (December through March).
8. Are there any accessible camping options for those with disabilities?
Yes, some campgrounds offer accessible facilities. For instance, Smokemont Campground has accessible sites with a 5 amp electric hookup for medical equipment.
9. Can I find camping spots for boondocking?
Yes, for those who prefer boondocking, options like the Hilltop Dry at Floyd Family Campground offer a great experience.
10. What should I pack for a camping trip in these mountains?
Essentials include camping gear, weather-appropriate clothing, a stargazing kit if interested, food supplies, and if you’re into specific activities like biking or fishing, bring your gear.
Embark on a journey through the North Carolina mountains and discover the perfect blend of adventure and tranquility in these top RV campgrounds. From serene lakes to majestic peaks, every stop offers a unique outdoor experience, making it a must-visit for every nature lover and adventure seeker.