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Best Car Camping In North Carolina

North Carolina Campground Guide And Camping Resources

Hiking, Waterfalls & Car Camping | North Carolina, Georgia & Tennessee

Check out the best of North Carolina camping. North Carolina is blessed with beautiful beaches, majestic mountains and countless rivers and streams in between. Here you will find tent camping and RV park campgrounds, as well as hidden gems and cabin rentals. Below find some of the best campgrounds and places to camp in North Carolina.

First Is Boondocking In North Carolina Even Legal

According to the USDA Forest Service, dispersed camping in North Carolina is only allowed in designated areas.

Meaning, no one can simply pull off anywhere and spend the night. Luckily, there is a list of designated camping spots to reference on the USDAs website, along with many other resources.

Although restrictions exist, you will soon see that there is an abundance of sites to choose from all completely free and in stunning locations.

Another important rule to remember is: there is a 14 day limit for public land camping .

This protects the land and surrounding ecosystem from regular human activity and allows others to enjoy the area as well.

In most cases, there are little to no amenities at these sites. Therefore, it is important to prepare accordingly and pack out anything you brought into the camp.

I highly recommend a visit to the USDAs Outdoor and Safety Ethics page, which provides helpful information on topics such as weather safety, wildlife safety, and outdoor ethics.

After all, having the right preparedness in any situation allows for more enjoyment and relaxation.

So, in short: yes! Boondocking is absolutely legal in North Carolina, as long as youre camping in designated areas, abiding by the time limit, and respecting the outdoor ethics of the area.

And luckily, there is no shortage of free camping areas located throughout the vast National Forests.

Of course, like everywhere else in the United States, camping on private property is prohibited.

Victor Fields Dispersed Camping

If youre looking for a private clearing in the woods all to yourself, this ones for you!

Victor Fields is located near the Blue Ridge Parkway in Pisgah National Forest.

Here, youll have access to 12 miles of incredible hiking, including views of the black mountains.

There are only 2 sites available, but they accommodate rigs of any size.

This is a secluded area with little cell phone service and no amenities, so be sure to bring plenty of provisions with you . And remember: pack in, pack out!

  • Location: Burnsville, NC

Looking for free, lakefront camping in your big rig? This site is located on Catfish Lake in Croatan National Forest and is great for RVs of all sizes.

It makes for a perfect place to stop on your way to North Carolinas beautiful beaches.

Make sure you soak up everything Croatan National Forest has to offer, including the saltwater estuaries, gorgeous riverside beaches, and stretches of endless shoreline. And of course, dont forget your bug spray!

  • Location: New Bern, NC
  • Elevation: 38

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Tent Camping Near Me: New River State Park

The New River, named a National Wild and Scenic River, winds its way through New River State Park, which preserves some of the states best mountain scenery. The river offers opportunities for canoeing, fishing, and paddling, but other outdoor recreation can be found in the park, such as camping. Walk-in campsites can be found just a couple hundred feet from the parking areas at the US 221 access and the Wagoner Road access, with both providing river access for paddling. RV camping is possible at the park access of US 221. There are also several canoe-in, primitive camping opportunities along the New River.

358 New River State Park Rd, Laurel Springs, NC 28644, Phone: 336-982-2587

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Can You Camp Anywhere Along The Blue Ridge Parkway

Best Camping near Asheville NC

Camping is only allowed in one of the Parkways eight designated camping areas. There are also three backcountry campgrounds which allow backpacking at certain sites with a permit.

While it seems backcountry camping is limited along the parkway, a lot of the backpacking we do in the North Carolina mountains is just off the parkway in Pisgah National Forest along the Appalachian Trail. In my opinion one of the best places to camp in the entire state is at Black Balsam Knob , approximately milepost 420 off the parkway. The short hike up to the mountain bald is less than a mile and a half, and is the perfect place to unplug for a night or two where you can get sweeping sunset and sunrise long range views from your tent.

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Pettigrew State Park Creswell

Considered an anglers paradise, Pettigrew State Park is the home of the famous Lake Phelps, a 16,600-acre lake where fishing is king. A combination of nature, history, and recreation, here youll find crystal clear waters for bass fishing alongside ancient American Indian dugout canoes and the grave of a Confederate general. Soak in the landscape of the grassy meadow and majestic cypress trees, as a family campground and group camping are available, featuring picnic tables and a grill. Perfect for a day of spotting wildlife, take a hike along the trails or hop in a canoe to paddle along the Scuppernong River to see animals in their natural habitat.

Roanoke River Platform Sites

Pack your gear into your kayak or canoe and take your pick of about 15 riverside camping platforms linked by 140 miles of water on the Roanoke River. Each campsite offers a unique vibe with differing amenities including screened-in platforms, group platform options, fire pits and privys but all boast beautiful views thatll make you one with nature.

Just northeast of Cashiers, Panthertown Valley might have a fearsome name, but rest easy, its about as peaceful a place as youll find. This 6,300-acre wilderness recreation area in the Nantahala National Forest has more than 25 miles of trails, waterfalls galore and all the solitude you could want. It also offers hikers, backpackers, and equestrian enthusiasts plenty of fresh mountain air and primitive camping. More information is available through Friends of Panthertown.

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Gear Up For Your Car Camping Adventure With Khl

There are so many amazing locations in this country to stop for a while and explore, and this is just a sampling of whats out there.

Both national and state parks are full of designated camping spots for car campers. For a national database of reservable sites on a variety of federal land in all different states, check out Recreation.gov. The site also helps you find BLM camping areas that are typically free to stay on. Before you visit any of the national forests to car camp, make sure you check with the Forest Service website for information about necessary permits and any other policies or restrictions.

Whichever of the beautiful car camping spots you end up on, remember to enjoy the ride. The experience is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. But with so many astounding destinations just waiting to be explored, grab the gear, set the GPS, get behind the wheel and go!

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Hammocks Beach State Park Swansboro

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With 323 acres and home to 4 beautiful islands, Hammocks Beach State Park is one of North Carolinas crown jewels. One of the most popular areas to explore is Bear Island, a three-mile-long, undeveloped barrier island only accessible by the parks passenger ferry or by paddling a canoe or kayak. Here visitors will find a beautiful area perfect for beachside camping, where massive dunes and stunning ocean views make for a memorable overnight stay. Youll have plenty to do here, from the hiking trails on Bear Island to the well-marked paddle trails, while fishing, swimming and picnicking are all a favorite pastime in the area.

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Lake Lure North Carolina

Apple Valley Farm Motorcoach Resort, Hitching Post Campground

For those who like to do an RV getaway in style, Apple Valley Farm Motorcoach Resort offers RV sites with access to all the amenities at Rumbling Bald Resort on Lake Lure including their beach, pools, tennis courts, golf courses, boat and kayak rentals, and even the spa and salon. Rental packages are available and you even get to choose your own lot! RVs must be a manufacturer-designated minimum 32-foot Class A motorcoach. Apple Valley Farm is pet friendly and with the added amenities of Rumbling Bald theres really no better place to glamp it up RV-style!

Anyone who wants a camping paradise should check out Hitching Post Campground. Just minutes from Lake Lure and the Broad River, this campground offers tent and RV camping, plus seasonal and yearly lease sites. Amenities include a fishing pond, playground, picnic areas, a camp store, bathhouse, and nature trails with waterfalls and indigenous flora covering forty-four acres of the property. The Hitching Post Campground is pet friendly, and within mere miles from the incredible amenities and activities of Lake Lure, Chimney Rock Village, Bat Cave, and Green River, and offers discounts to nonprofit groups so if youre looking for a camping retreat location, this is the place to go. Pair that with this campgrounds breathtaking location in Hickory Nut Gorge, and youve got the perfect camping experience.

National Forests In North Carolina

One of the biggest draws for free camping in North Carolina is the abundance of national forest land. Dispersed camping is available within designated sites. These areas are primitive in nature without bathrooms, showers, electricity, or the amenities you will find at developed campgrounds.

There are four National Forests in North Carolina, with hundreds of thousands of acres to explore and enjoy. Each has designated areas where campers can take advantage of dispersed camping.

  • Pisgah National Forest. This beautiful forest is filled with high peaks, waterfalls, and over 500,000 acres to explore. Choose from locations within the Appalachian Ranger District, Grandfather Ranger District, and the Pisgah Ranger District to enjoy free camping in North Carolina.
  • Croatan National Forest. This national forest is a popular location for visitors as it is the only true coastal forest on the east coast. Its bordered on three sides by water and the area includes both bogs and saltwater estuaries for campers to explore.
  • Nantahala National Forest. With over 530,000 acres of forest land, this is the largest forest in NC. There are plenty of spots for free camping here within the Cheoah Ranger District, Nantahala Ranger District, and the Tusquitee Ranger District.
  • Uwharrie National Forest. Primitive camping is available within this national forest. Be sure to pay attention to posted signs that indicate if camping is not allowed in the area.

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Best Places To Camp In North Carolina

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A state full of natural wonders and eye-catching landscapes, North Carolinas abundance of state parks and bodies of water makes it a perfect location for an overnight camping trip. Home to both a beautiful coast with soft dunes and flat plains and rugged mountain vistas, here you can pitch a tent and have an adventure of enjoying the outdoors on a scenic hike and stargazing up at the Milky Way. From beachside camping to pitching a tent sky high in the mountains, here are some of the best places to go camping in North Carolina.


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Lake Wateree State Park

The 18 Best Campgrounds in NC

Winter is the best time to snag one of 15 lakefront campsites at this 72-site campground. Boating and fishing are favorite pastimes at 13,800-acre Lake Wateree State Park, just an hours drive south of Charlotte. Easy water access along the shore or at the boat dock opens up miles of kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding to the north and south ends of the lake. Large creek-fed tributaries are ideal spots to see great blue heron, woodpeckers, egrets, and bald eagles. Back at camp, fish for bream, catfish, crappie, and bass from the shore.

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Mount Mitchell State Park

Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi. Meanwhile, Mount Mitchell State Park is one of the most beautiful and best camping places in NC. Standing tall at almost 6,700 feet, Mount Mitchell offers superb hiking opportunities. The summit trail lies just 10 minutes from the car park but is pretty steep. However, the mind-blowing views of the lush fir forests from the top are worth the hike. Even then, theres a road that leads to the top, making Mount Mitchells peak accessible to everyone! Additionally, there are many other activities to do here, such as picnicking, wildlife watching, waterfalling, swimming, mountain biking, and hiking.

Even culture vultures have something to do here. A fascinating museum explains the mountainâs natural and cultural history. Plus, the extensive trail network includes short hikes, thus allowing people with all kinds of hiking abilities to explore the mountain up close. Not only is Mount Mitchell State Park pet-friendly, but also it has no admission fee!

Theres a nine-person campground at the park with spaces for tent campers only. Its open from May to October, and every site has a picnic table and a grill. While there are no showers or hot water, there are portable water and restrooms nearby for use during the warm season. Since the area is a known habitat for black bears, campers are advised to carry bear-proof storage containers for camping gear, camping bear bags, and even camping bear sprays.

Campgrounds In North Carolina: Uwharrie National Forest

The Uwharrie National Forest of North Carolina is particularly well known for being a destination for off-roading, dirt biking, and ATVs. The forest is home to clearly marked trails for ATVs and other off-roading vehicles, however, there are also miles of mountain biking and hiking trails as well. Visitors can bring their horse along too, but its important to be careful as some of the ATV and equestrian trails overlap. As for camping, the Arrowhead Campground in the Uwharrie National Forest offers around fifty campsites, more than thirty of which include RV hookups for electricity.

Uwharrie National Forest, Phone: 910-576-6391

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Chimney Rock North Carolina

Hickory Nut Falls Family Campground

With scenic views of Hickory Nut Falls and less than a mile to the entrance of Chimney Rock State Park, campers at Hickory Nut Falls Family Campground can enjoy a peaceful retreat next to the calming sounds of the Rocky Broad River. Tent sites are available along the river or in wooded areas, and covered deck sites are offered for tents, RVs or pop-ups. For those that prefer a few more creature comforts, theres even cabins and tiny house cabins for rent. Hickory Nut Falls Family Campground is pet friendly, is open April through November, and is located only 5 minutes from Chimney Rock State Park so the possibilities for nature-filled family fun are truly endless.

Live Music Boat Show And Nelly Are Highlights Of The 40th Annual Mumfestyour Browser Indicates If You’ve Visited This Link


Downtown New Bern is preparing for this year’s MumFest held annually during the second weekend in October. Last year, the traditional large MumFest gathering was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and residents were instead offered a scaled down version dubbed MumFeast.

New Bern Sun Journal on MSN.com

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Fires Creek Recreation Area

Fires Creek Recreation area offerssome of the best dispersed camping in the state.

Two main camping areas areavailable here. Bristol Campground has just under 10 campsites with vaulttoilets on site. All campers are welcome although its set up primarily forhorse campers. The other option is the Huskins Branch Hunters Camp. Backcountrycamping is also available in this area.

The entire Fire Creek RecreationArea is ideal for hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding in addition tocamping. Its also home to some of the best trout fishing in North Carolina.

Tent Camping Near Me: Pettigrew State Park

Nestled on the shores of Lake Phelps and the Scuppernong River in Tyrrell and Washington Counties, Pettigrew State Park is a 5,951-acre state park with more than 1,200 acres of land and 16,600 acres of water. The park provides a wealth of outdoor recreational activities ranging from boating, fishing, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking to hiking, mountain biking, camping, visiting historic sites, and wildlife watching. The park has a family campground with 13 campsites boasting picnic tables and grills, tent camping in an open, grassy meadow with potable water and restrooms with showers nearby and primitive camping with tent pads, grills and pit toilets in a nearby forest.

2252 Lake Shore Rd, Creswell, NC 27928, Phone: 252-797-4475

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