How Old Are Uwharrie Mountains
500 million years old At over 500 million years old, The Uwharrie Mountains are the oldest mountains in the United States. Seeing the softly rolling hills of today, so densely covered in pine forest, one would never guess that the Uwharries were once a chain of huge volcanic jagged peaks reaching 20,000 feet high.
Wrapping Up Free Camping In North Carolina
We hope you found this guide helpful, and that now youre feeling excited, prepared, and looking forward to visiting some of the best spots for free camping in North Carolina! Let us know which spot youre most looking forward to experiencing on your camping adventures in the comments below!
Looking for more North Carolina camping? Check out our recommendations here:
Are There Mountain Lions In Uwharrie
You may have heard reports of mountain lions being seen in the Uwharrie area. But are there really any big cats roaming around this part of North Carolina?
According to Dave Cebula, a wildlife biologist with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, there have been several confirmed sightings of mountain lions in the state but none in the Uwharrie region specifically. However, he says that its not impossible for one to be present in the area.
So what does this all mean? Theres no definitive answer, but it seems unlikely that there are any resident mountain lions in the Uwharrie area at this time.
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Does Uwharrie Have Bathrooms
Yes, Uwharrie has bathrooms. There are a few different types of bathrooms located throughout the park. The first type is the vault toilet, which is a flushless toilet that uses gravity to dispose of waste. These toilets can be found at most trailheads and campgrounds. The second type of bathroom is the pit latrine, which is similar to a vault toilet but does not have a water supply for flushing. Pit latrines can be found at some trailheads and primitive campsites.
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Great Lake Boat Launch
Another great option for boaters, the Great Lake Boat Launch is located near the water, offers fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing opportunities, and has access to restrooms and a boat ramp. High clearance vehicles are recommended due to some shifting in the terrain as hurricanes and other storms pass by, but this is a great, reclusive spot for campers who love the water to retreat into the scenery of the Croatan National Forest, fish for yellow bullhead, fliars, yellow perch, and black crappie, and enjoy time out on the water!
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Get Our Top Tips For Saving Money On A Campervan Trip:
One of the great things about renting an Escape campervan is the ability to go anywhere. There are tons of opportunities for free camping out west, with large tracts of undeveloped national forest and Bureau of Land Management lands that you can just drive onto and set up a peaceful, secluded, and FREE camp. Dispersed camping on the east coast is less abundant, but still exists!
The Eastern United States is full of beautiful and rugged places, with many opportunities for free camping if you know where to look. Free camping may not be quite as spontaneous and easy to find on the east coast, but with a little research and advance planning, youll find plenty of places to set up camp. I highly recommend using the website www.freecampsites.net and Allstays as a guide. And of course, always check with local rangers to determine the accessibility and availability of sites. They are a wealth of knowledge about their areas its their job!
How Do I Find A Dispersed Campsite
Finding a campground is easy when youre looking for developed areas. Here at The Dyrt, we specialize in helping you find campgrounds. Finding spots for dispersed camping is a little different.
Select an area of interest within National Forest Land and use Google Earth in satellite view to check your route for pull-offs. A great idea is to pick a trailhead and look nearby. A dirt pull off or small clearing in a forest is an indicator of an existing camp spot.
Once you have an idea of where youd like to camp, check with the local ranger station on any local camping or fire restrictions. Sometimes, especially during the off-seasons, forest access roads are closed, so check in advance to be sure that your route is clear.
Find BLM campsites from your car without WiFi. The Dyrt PRO lets you download maps and campgrounds without cell service. My alternative to using pro would be to drive back out to cell service.
Its also extremely helpful to have a hard copy map of the national forest youd like to camp in. These are difficult to find online, but you should be able to pick them up at local gas stations, grocery stores, and ranger stations once you reach your destination.
Part of the beauty of dispersed camping is that it isnt advertised on big Camp Here! signs. Finding your spot can take some work, even if you do your research. Its especially difficult to find unmarked camping spots in the dark, so leave yourself plenty of daylight to find your campsite and settle in.
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What Can I Expect From Dispersed Campsites In National Forests
Dirt. Trees. Bugs. Views. What more can you ask for?
Free camping in National Forests, or dispersed camping, is about enjoying nature without all the fuss and clutter of amenities, like toilets, showers, and fire pits.
This means you need to arrive fully self-sufficient, and prepared to clean up after yourself thoroughly.
If youre in bear territory, remember that dispersed camping wont come with bear lockers. Bring odor-proof storage for your food, and store food away from your camp.
Since youre camping in a place that hasnt been altered for camping, it typically wont be as flat or clutter-free as traditional campsites. If youre pitching a tent, youll probably want a sleeping pad for added comfort.
Free North Carolina Boondocking Locations Harmon Den Dispersed Camping
AddressCold Springs Road Hot Springs, North CarolinaElevation: 2795
Management: Public Forest Service
The road in is Gravel. You may stay 14 nights at Harmon Den Dispersed Camping. Roadside camping is generally allowed beside most gravel roads. However, along Cold Springs Road in Harmon Den, roadside camping is permitted only at sites with a camping symbol.
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Blue Valley Dispersed Campground
Located in Nantahala National Forest, Blue Valley Dispersed Campground truly offers something for everyone.
While it is completely free, this is a campground that accommodates rigs of any size.
There are also several amenities such as tables, grills, and toilets, and with approximately 22 sites, you will have plenty of options to choose from.
Enjoy swimming, fishing, or bird watching? Wilson lake is close by and is a perfect place for all three of these activities!
- Location: Blue Valley, NC
- Elevation: 2644
Stone Mountain State Park
An iconic, 600-foot granite wall, just the tip of a 25-square-mile underground rock formation called a pluton, is the focal point of Stone Mountain State Park north of Charlotte in rural Roaring Gap. Take in the massive rock face, typically dotted with climbers who come from all over the southeast for the quality friction climbing, before driving to the backpack parking area at Widow Creek Falls.
Its a 1.5- to 3-mile hike along Widows Creek Trail to six backcountry campsites. Register at the trailhead kiosk for the required backpack permit and bring along a rod to fish Widows Creek, designated as Wild Trout Waters along with other lower elevation streams in the park.
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Free North Carolina Rv Boondocking Wash Creek Roadside Campsites In Pisgah National Forest
AddressWash Creek Road FR 5000Asheville, North CarolinaElevation: 2645
Management: Public Forest Service
The road in is Gravel and less than 0.5 and up to 3 miles from a paved road. Wash Creek Roadside Campsites in Pisgah National Forest is open Year Round but Blue Ridge Parkway Closes in Winter. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 17ft. You may stay 14 Days at Wash Creek Roadside Campsites in Pisgah National Forest. Winding gravel road that crosses Blue Ridge Parkway with lots of pull-off campsites.
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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Grandfather Mountain State Park
The stony profile of Grandfather Mountain State Park hangs nearly one vertical mile above the North Carolina Piedmont, an enticing challenge for backcountry campers seeking peak-bagging vistas and alpine landscapes. More than 70 rare, threatened, and endangered species of flora and fauna make Grandfather a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve.
Any hike to the parks 13 backcountry sites starts with a climb from either the Blue Ridge Parkway or the Profile trailhead since hikers arent allowed to leave vehicles overnight inside the park. Several factors add to the challenge: lack of consistent water sources mean you need to pack water in, black bears frequent the environs, and changeable weather at high elevations requires extra vigilance and caution. Only one campsite is reservable, and backpackers must register at the trailhead kiosk before hiking in to claim a campsite.
Best Places To Go Free Camping In North Carolina
Looking for a no-cost camping option in the gorgeous, scenic state of North Carolina? Youre in luck! There are many wonderful, free camping spots scattered across the states four national forests and beautiful backcountryso many, in fact, it can be hard to pick one that suits all your camping needs! Luckily, our free camping guide is here to help. Weve rounded up some of the top-reviewed, best spots for free camping in North Carolinaread on to find the area thats best for you and your family!
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How Much Does It Cost To Camp At Uwharrie National Forest
At a Glance
|Operational Hours:||Open year round. The sites are first come first serve. Check in is at 4:00 p.m. and check out is at 2:00 p.m.|
|Fees||The sites are $5 per night. All sites are on a first come first serve basis. Cash or check is accepted, make checks out to USDA Forest Service.|
Harmon Den Dispersed Camping
First on our list of free camping in western North Carolina is Harmon Den! Located at the end of a gravel road not far from the Tennessee border and the edge of Great Smokey Mountains National Park, the Harmon Den Dispersed Camping site offers a primitive camping experience designed to preserve the local creek area, while still providing a great resource for campers from all over. Tents, RVs, and trailers are all welcomed here, and campers are encouraged to stay up to the 14-day limit at their dispersed campsite!
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Free Camping In Central North Carolina
Home to the famous Uwharrie National Forest, central North Carolina offers a bevy of great options for free camping in the beauty that thrives at the heart of this state! One of North Carolinas four great national forests, Uwharrie lies on 52,000 acres that include designated game lands for public hunting, trapping, and fishingand for camping! There are so many beautiful, free, dispersed campsites where you can pitch a tent, park an RV or trailer, and enjoy the splendor that is central North Carolina from any one of its best spots for free camping!
What Is A National Forest
At first glance, national forests and national parks appear to be similar, since they are both public, protected landscapes. However, there are a few differences to be aware of. First and foremost, they are managed by different government entities. National forests are managed by the Department of Agriculture. The USDA Forest Service is charged with upholding the mission of National Forests: to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the land.
National parks often have stricter rules about pets and dispersed camping. The National Forests allow both pets and dispersed camping throughout most of their land holdings.
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In The Piedmont: Uwharrie National Forest
At just over 50,000 acres, Uwharrie National Forest is North Carolinas smallest and newest National Forest. Hike the 20-mile Uwharrie National Recreation Trail over the heavily wooded, rolling hills of this ancient mountain range, or trail run a portion of the smooth, non-technical route. Theres dispersed camping along the trail and two frontcountry campgrounds with individual and group sites.
Intermediate mountain bikers will love the Wood Run trail network for 22 miles of fast, tight, and flowy singletrack. Backpackers can explore the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness, named for a family plantation at the northern section of the Uwharries. A 6.9-mile loop follows a mix of old roadbeds and trails that run past the remains of old homesteads and farms. Dispersed camping is also permitted along the trail.
Try flatwater kayaking and SUP boarding on Badin Lake, a year-round destination with boat-in primitive campsites and miles of remote hiking trails. With more than 100 miles of shoreline, the lake offers plenty of great spots to fish, or you can drop a line from your boat to catch largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, crappie, sunfish, and stripers.
Free Camping In Eastern North Carolina
Along the eastern coast of North Carolina, youll find some fantastic free camping, particularly in the boundaries of Croatan National Forestanother of the four gorgeous national forests located across the state.
In Croatans beautiful 160,000 acre spread, youll encounter pine trees, bogs, raised swamps, and moreall bordered by tidal rivers and the Bogue Sound. Resplendent with diverse wildlife and perfect for canoeing and fishing, this is a great area for water-loving campers in particular, who dont mind some primitive conditions as they soak up the best that nature has to offer!
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Free North Carolina Boondocking
If you enjoy camping, there are numerous possibilities for free camping in North Carolina. In the Appalachian Mountains, near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are several fantastic possibilities. Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point, all in the Piedmont region, offer wonderful options for people interested in history and urban camping. The inner coastal range is home to some of the best BBQ in the world, as well as an interesting historical site. Camping along the coast and on the outer banks is ideal for water lovers. There are several boondocking spots in North Carolina, no matter where you look.
North Carolina is a state that is as gorgeous as it is diverse in natural treasures, from the beaches of Cape Hatteras to the ancient highlands of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Theres an outdoor experience waiting for you, whether its a day of surfing in the Atlantic Ocean or a hike up Mount Mitchell, the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi.
If free tent camping in NC amid sand dunes isnt your thing, pack your belongings and head to the mountains of Western North Carolina, an area known across the southeast for its abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities. You wont run out of reasons to go outside, whether youre rafting down the Nantahala River through the magnificent and isolated Nantahala National Forest or hiking the 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail that runs the length of North Carolina.
Free North Carolina Camping Spots Brown Mountain Ohv Entrance Road
AddressV7Q7+R7 Adako, Johns River, NCMorganton, North CarolinaElevation: 1109
Management: Public Forest Service
The road in is Gravel and < 2 miles from a paved road. Brown Mountain OHV Entrance Road is open all year. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 25 feet. You may stay 14 at Brown Mountain OHV Entrance Road. Off The Brown Mountain Beach Road, Just off 181, is the National Forest Service Off Highway Vehicle trail System. The Road to the Parking lot is about a mile or 2 long and has 7 campsites along this pretty creek.
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Prohibited Items And Activities
Although the U.S.F.S. is typically lenient when it comes to enforcing regulations that don’t harm the environment, there are a few things you cannot bring with you or do while in a National Forest. The following items and activities are prohibited in dispersed camping:
- Camping or maintaining a campsite for more than 14 consecutive days in a dispersed or non-fee area without having terminated Forest occupancy for a minimum of 10 days within a 31-day time frame
- Failing to remove all camping equipment or personal property when vacating the site
- Occupying any portion of the site for anything other than recreation purposes
- Camping in violation of posted signs
- Camping within 100 feet of the base of any cliff or the back of any rock shelter
- Cutting, removing, or otherwise damaging any timber, tree, or other forest product, including special forest products and forest botanical products
If you can avoid breaking any of these rules of dispersed camping, you’re well on your way to a quiet escape from all the noise of civilization in a national forest.