If you’re looking for a state that has a variety of landscapes to explore, then North Carolina has to be at the top of your list
Boasting unrivaled natural beauty, you’ll want to camp your way across the entire state. Whether you choose to start at the coast or the far western mountains, you’ll find incredible ways to spend time in nature and explore what it has to offer.
North Carolina also provides several state parks with camping facilities, so you have a lot of options. These are all located near natural attractions, including beaches, lakes, mountains, and waterfalls. From family-friendly activities to advanced outdoor ones, this is the place to be.
Whether you prefer to pitch your tent near coastal dunes, relax beside a pristine lake, or immerse yourself in a rugged mountain range, here are ten of the best camping sites to experience in North Carolina.
This RV resort and campground are nestled on the Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The area has become a popular vacation destination thanks to the open-sea beaches, state parks, and shipwreck diving sites. The barrier of islands is also known for its lighthouses and the Wright Brothers Memorial.
The campground itself spreads around 50 acres offering both Oceanfront and Soundfront RV and tent sites, along with park model units. Amenities include inside, outside, and kiddie pool, jacuzzi, mini-golf, tennis, basketball, and a dog park. Water sports rentals are available in the marina.
Camp Hatteras RV Resort & Campground also features a clubhouse for smaller family gatherings and a conference center suitable for weddings, receptions, banquets, and other celebrations.
Therefore, this campground is a perfect spot for families and groups looking to spend both fun and relaxing time by the beach.
Set in a narrow valley in the middle of the Pisgah National Forest, Mountain Stream RV Park is a quaint family campground surrounded by beautiful mountains from all sides. With a creek running through it, it’s a perfect spot for couples or a relaxing family vacation.
It offers RV sites with water, electricity, and sewerage hookups. There are also a couple of yurts. Modern restrooms, flush toilets, and cable TV are available, too.
Let your kids play at the playground and pets goof around in the dog park while you relax. You can also fish for trout. However, note that only catch and release fishing is allowed. Area attractions include Crabtree Falls, Linville Caverns, and Blue Ridge Parkway.
Raleigh Oaks RV Resort & Cottages belongs to the best-rated campgrounds in North Carolina. Guests can choose from over 150 back-in and pull-thru full hook-up sites as well as 50 fully equipped cozy cottages.
Take a dip in one of the swimming pools, relax in the hot tub, play basketball, volleyball, billiards, horseshoes, or work out in the fitness center. You simply can’t get bored in this campground.
If you do, you can visit one of the local attractions, including the Ava Gardner Museum, Tucker Lake, or the Rudy Theater. The Raleigh Fairgrounds also run state farmers and flea markets every weekend. Whereas outdoor lovers will like the area’s hiking and biking trails.
One of the most popular state parks in North Carolina is Carolina Beach State Park. This shouldn’t be surprising considering the state’s beautiful coastline.
If you’re looking for a secluded site to set up camp, you’ll find one here under the towering oak and pine trees. With 69 primitive campsites and ten with full hookups, you have plenty to choose from. If you prefer, you can also rent one of the four cabins available, all with modern amenities, including heating and air conditioning.
This 761-acre park is located on the Cape Fear River and the Intracoastal Waterway, so you’ll never run out of water activities to indulge in. Whether you prefer the saltwater of the beaches or the fresh water of the river, boating is a popular pastime. You can also rent stand-up paddle boards as well as kayaks. Don’t forget your fishing gear too, because some of the best fishing spots in the state are here as well.
The land has a lot to offer also. Nine miles of hiking trails will take you through coastal habitat and towering forests. Since the area is relatively flat, these trails are accessible to almost anyone. Be sure to stay on the lookout for the most popular plant in the park, the rare, carnivorous Venus Flytrap. These grow wild in the area, and you may spot a few on the trailside.
Located along the Southern coast, Hammocks Beach State Park provides an island getaway for your camping adventure. From the visitor center, you will climb aboard a ferry to take you over to Bear Island, a four-mile-long barrier island.
Once there on the island, you have your choice of primitive campsites close to the beach or the inlet. Pack light, as you will have to carry your camping gear from the ferry dock to your campsite.
The beach is the big draw here. A section of it is partitioned off just for swimmers. Elsewhere you can throw out a line and catch flounder, blue fish, and drum.
The park lays out three paddle trails as well, one of which is six miles long. Rent a kayak or canoe once there and make your way through the saltmarshes. These are considered difficult due to potentially strong currents and being located near boat channels, but well worth the effort.
Hiking trails here are short but will take you through a coastal forest. And you always have the wide beach to walk day or night.
Located in the northern portion of the Central Piedmont region of the state, Hanging Rock State Park can overwhelm the senses. With cascading waterfalls, sheer cliffs, and quiet forests, you’re bound to see a little of everything.
The park has over 70 campsites available for both tents and trailers, as well as cabins for rent. Once set up, you will be only steps away from all the fun outdoor activities.
Take on the 18 miles of hiking trails, which will glide you past waterfalls and beautiful mountain vistas. Jump on your bike and tackle the 8.4 miles of trails just for mountain biking. These biking trails are some of the best in the state, with stream crossings, rock ledges, and incredible views.
Rock climbing is another option in the park. Here you’ll find a series of cliffs reaching up to 400 feet, called Moore’s Wall and Cook’s Wall. There are areas for experienced climbers as well as novices.
Cool down after hiking, biking, or climbing with a swim in the 12-acre lake. Then settle into your campsite for a solid night’s sleep.
Take in the rolling western North Carolina mountains with a stay at Mount Pisgah Campground. This is one of the highest campgrounds found on the Blue Ridge Parkway and doesn’t disappoint.
With over 100 campsites available, you’ll find yourself camping in thick, hardwood forests. Strike out from camp on one of the hiking trails, such as the 1.6-mile-long The Frying Pan Trail. Make a full day of it and pack a picnic lunch for when you reach the Fire Tower at Frying Pan Mountain. Or, make your way up to the observation deck for an incredible panoramic view of the mountains.
Mount Pisgah sits in the Appalachian Mountain Range and is classified as part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. While the campground is rather secluded, you can venture out a little further and make contact with the world at quaint restaurants and inns along the way.
The Linville Falls Campground provides close access to several natural attractions in the area that you won’t want to miss. These include Linville Falls & Gorge, Linville Caverns, and Grandfather Mountain.
The privately-owned campground offers primitive campsites as well as full hook up sites. Don’t have a trailer? No worries. You can rent one already set up at the campground. You can even rent a log cabin if you like.
Along with access to several biking and hiking trails, the campground has a playground for the kids. It also has a few modern amenities such as restrooms with hot showers.
Pilot Mountain State Park is a top family-friendly park full of fun activities year-round.
The 49 campsites are surrounded by towering hickory and oak trees. If you need more seclusion or are looking for more adventure, you can camp at one of the primitive paddle-in campsites which are situated along the Yadkin River.
Numerous hiking trails weave their way throughout the park. Take the whole family, even the littles ones, for a hike to see the 2,000-foot-high Pilot Mountain. The Little Pinnacle Overlook Trail is kid-friendly as well as beautiful. There are also mountain biking and horseback riding trails as well.
Rock climbing and rappelling are top activities in the park, due to its steep cliffs, crevices, and ravines. Join in or settle down with a picnic to watch several others make their way up and down.
Paddling the Yadkin River is another option. Two miles of the river are inside the park, and these are some of the most scenic sections. You’ll experience ripples along this broad section of the river, making it even more inviting to paddlers.
The Yadkin River is also a great place for those who enjoy fishing, with bass and catfish as the main catches.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself fully in nature, Gorges State Park is the place to do it. With only primitive backcountry camping available, you’ll get away from the crowds and enjoy all that the outdoors have to offer.
Set amidst sheer rock walls, waterfalls, and river gorges, you’ll feel as if you are nowhere near civilization. Set up your campsite after a long hike in, then explore the surrounding trails.
You’ll also find mountain biking trails, as well as horse riding trails throughout the park.
Within the Gorges State Park, all rivers and streams are designated as Wild Trout Waters, so try your luck at catching the rainbow or brown varieties.
This is still a relatively new state park, so return often to see improvements and more trail offerings down the road
Lake James State Park is a park that seems to have it all for outdoor lovers.
The 6,812-acre lake for boating, fishing, and swimming is accompanied by 25 miles of hiking, 15 miles of which are for mountain biking as well.
Camping options are thrilling here in the park. You can choose between walk-in sites near the lake and Catawba River, drive-up sites near Paddy’s Creek, and remote sites you can only get to by boat, canoe, or kayak.
Swimming and fishing in the Paddy’s Creek Area are also allowed. Largemouth bass, carp, and perch are common catches, but you’ll also have a chance to reel in a record size muskellunge.
Why camping in North Carolina?
North Carolina doesn’t disappoint when it comes to camping options. Even the most ardent outdoor enthusiast can find a place to pitch a tent in the state.
From walk-up sites with modern amenities to paddle-in campsites to backcountry hike-in sites to cabins, unique offerings abound throughout the state. What better way is there to experience North Carolina’s coastal habitats, dense forests, and rugged mountain ranges?
Things to bring for camping
No matter where you’re planning to go, nobody should set off camping unprepared. A good tent, sleeping bag, and a sleeping mat are the keys. A multitool, tent repair kit, and a torch shouldn’t be missed either. A bug spray and sunscreen are necessities, too, especially in summer. For a bit more comfort, you can also bring portable chairs and a table.
We hope our list has helped you to pick the best spot for your next camping trip. Did you like our article? Let us know in the comments