Best Camping in North Carolina

tent at Lake Fontana, North Carolina in the southern part of the Smoky Mountain National Park
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Embarking on an outdoor adventure and immersing oneself in the tranquility of nature can be an incredibly rewarding experience. North Carolina, with its diverse landscapes, picturesque coastlines, and majestic mountains, stands as an ideal destination for camping enthusiasts. From the breathtaking peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the pristine shores of the Outer Banks National Seashore, the Tar Heel State offers an array of camping opportunities that cater to every adventurer’s taste. In this post, we’ll take you on a journey through the top 10 camping destinations in North Carolina, unveiling the remarkable natural wonders and hidden gems that await those seeking solace in the great outdoors. So pack your gear, pitch your tent, and let’s delve into the beauty and serenity of North Carolina’s most captivating camping spots.



Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a natural wonderland that spans North Carolina and Tennessee. Immerse yourself in the ethereal charm of mist-covered mountains, cascading waterfalls, and dense forests teeming with wildlife. Discover endless opportunities for hiking, photography, and connecting with nature in this iconic park, a sanctuary for adventure and serenity alike.

Reasons to Camp in Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

  • Unparalleled Natural Beauty: The park boasts awe-inspiring landscapes, including misty mountains, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls, providing a picturesque backdrop for your camping adventure.
  • Extensive Trail System: With over 800 miles of trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging hikes, the park offers endless opportunities to explore and discover its breathtaking vistas, diverse flora, and fauna.
  • Wildlife Encounters: Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to a rich array of wildlife, including black bears, deer, elk, and numerous bird species. Camping here gives you a chance to witness these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.
  • Rich Cultural History: Immerse yourself in the park’s rich cultural heritage by visiting historic buildings, preserved settlements, and participating in ranger-led programs that showcase the traditions and stories of the Appalachian people.
  • Stargazing Spectacle: Escape the city lights and experience the magic of the night sky. The park’s remote location and minimal light pollution create an ideal setting for stargazing, allowing you to marvel at the celestial wonders above.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Backpack, Water Filter, Rain Jacket, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Headlamp


Pisgah National Forest

Embark on an extraordinary journey through the captivating landscapes of Pisgah National Forest. Encompassing a sprawling expanse of North Carolina’s mountains and woodlands, this natural wonderland beckons explorers with its cascading waterfalls, meandering trails, and diverse wildlife. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of towering trees and breathtaking vistas, and discover a world of outdoor adventures awaiting you in Pisgah National Forest.

Reasons to Camp in Pisgah National Forest:

  • Scenic Beauty: Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Pisgah National Forest, with its picturesque landscapes, rolling mountains, vibrant forests, and enchanting waterfalls. The natural beauty of this forest will leave you in awe.
  • Abundant Outdoor Activities: Pisgah National Forest offers a plethora of outdoor activities for campers to enjoy, including hiking, mountain biking, fishing, rock climbing, and wildlife spotting. There’s something for everyone, from thrilling adventures to peaceful pursuits.
  • Variety of Campgrounds: The forest features a range of campgrounds, from developed sites with amenities to more primitive options for a back-to-nature experience. Whether you prefer a family-friendly campground or a secluded spot, Pisgah National Forest has options to suit your preferences.
  • Diverse Wildlife: Encounter a diverse array of wildlife while camping in Pisgah National Forest. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, black bears, wild turkeys, and a variety of bird species. Wildlife sightings add a sense of wonder and adventure to your camping experience.
  • Tranquility and Serenity: Find solace in the peaceful surroundings of Pisgah National Forest. Escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and unwind in the tranquility of nature, listening to the gentle rustle of leaves and the soothing sounds of flowing streams.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Backpack, Water Filter, Rain Jacket, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Camping Stove


Outer Banks National Seashore

Get ready to experience the ultimate coastal retreat at the Outer Banks National Seashore. Spanning across a breathtaking stretch of North Carolina’s coastline, this pristine destination invites you to indulge in the perfect blend of sun, surf, and serenity. With its endless sandy beaches, picturesque dunes, and abundant aquatic wonders, the Outer Banks National Seashore promises an unforgettable escape into a coastal paradise.

Reasons to Camp in Outer Banks National Seashore:

  • Beachfront Camping: Experience the unparalleled joy of camping right on the beach. Outer Banks National Seashore offers beachfront campsites where you can fall asleep to the soothing sound of ocean waves and wake up to stunning sunrise views.
  • Scenic Beauty: Immerse yourself in the breathtaking coastal beauty of the Outer Banks. From pristine sandy beaches to rolling dunes and picturesque maritime forests, this seashore presents a scenic backdrop that will leave you in awe.
  • Water Activities: Enjoy a wide array of water activities, including swimming, surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing. With miles of coastline and pristine waters, the Outer Banks National Seashore provides endless opportunities for aquatic adventures.
  • Wildlife Encounters: Discover the rich diversity of wildlife that inhabits the seashore. From shorebirds and sea turtles to dolphins and wild horses, you’ll have the chance to witness fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.
  • Historical Significance: Explore the rich history of the Outer Banks, including historic lighthouses, shipwrecks, and the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Camping in this area allows you to delve into the fascinating stories and heritage of the region.

Recommended Gear: Sunscreen, Beach Umbrella, Beach Chairs, Cooler, Sand Anchors, Portable Grill, Tent


Linville Gorge Wilderness

Prepare to be awe-struck by the untamed beauty of Linville Gorge Wilderness. Known as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” this rugged and remote wilderness area in North Carolina offers a captivating escape into nature’s raw magnificence. With its towering cliffs, deep gorges, cascading waterfalls, and pristine wilderness, Linville Gorge Wilderness beckons adventurers seeking solitude, breathtaking vistas, and unforgettable outdoor experiences.

Reasons to Camp in Linville Gorge Wilderness:

  • Spectacular Scenery: Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of Linville Gorge Wilderness, with its towering cliffs, deep canyons, and breathtaking vistas. Every moment spent here is a visual feast for the eyes.
  • Challenging Hiking Trails: For adventure enthusiasts, Linville Gorge Wilderness offers a network of challenging hiking trails that traverse rugged terrain and lead to stunning viewpoints. Explore the wilderness and push your limits on the extensive trail system.
  • Waterfall Wonders: Discover the enchanting allure of cascading waterfalls that grace the landscape of Linville Gorge Wilderness. Take a refreshing dip, capture stunning photographs, or simply revel in the serene atmosphere surrounding these natural wonders.
  • Primitive Camping Experience: Camp in the heart of nature with primitive camping options in Linville Gorge Wilderness. Disconnect from modern amenities and immerse yourself in the simplicity and tranquility of the wilderness, creating a true back-to-nature experience.
  • Thrilling Rock Climbing: Challenge yourself on the vertical walls of Linville Gorge Wilderness. This area offers exceptional rock climbing opportunities for experienced climbers, providing a thrilling and exhilarating experience amidst the rugged cliffs.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Backpack, Water Filter, Trekking Poles, Camping Stove, Tent, Sleeping Bag


Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Indulge in the coastal splendor of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, a captivating stretch of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. With its pristine sandy beaches, endless ocean vistas, and windswept dunes, this seashore offers a serene escape into a world of natural beauty. Explore historic lighthouses, witness mesmerizing sunrises, and immerse yourself in the tranquility of this coastal haven where land, sea, and sky converge in perfect harmony.

Reasons to Camp in Cape Hatteras National Seashore:

  • Coastal Beauty: Immerse yourself in the stunning coastal beauty of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, with its pristine sandy beaches, rolling dunes, and sparkling ocean waves. The picturesque landscapes provide a perfect backdrop for a memorable camping experience.
  • Beachfront Camping: Enjoy the unparalleled experience of camping right on the beach. Cape Hatteras National Seashore offers beachfront campsites where you can fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves and wake up to breathtaking sunrise views.
  • Water Sports and Activities: From swimming and surfing to fishing and kayaking, Cape Hatteras National Seashore offers a wide range of water sports and activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Dive into the waves, explore the shoreline, and create unforgettable memories by the sea.
  • Rich History and Culture: Explore the fascinating history and cultural heritage of the Outer Banks region. Visit historic lighthouses, such as Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and learn about the maritime history and stories that have shaped this iconic coastal area.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Discover a diverse array of wildlife at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Keep an eye out for shorebirds, sea turtles, dolphins, and other coastal creatures that call this seashore home. Wildlife sightings add an element of wonder and excitement to your camping adventure.

Recommended Gear: Tent, Beach Chairs, Sunscreen, Cooler, Beach Umbrella, Beach Towels, Portable Grill


Uwharrie National Forest

Immerse yourself in the untamed beauty of Uwharrie National Forest, an enchanting wilderness located in North Carolina. Surrounded by rolling hills, towering trees, and meandering streams, this forest offers a serene sanctuary for nature enthusiasts. Explore its rugged trails, uncover hidden waterfalls, and encounter the diverse wildlife that calls this pristine ecosystem home. Uwharrie National Forest promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of unspoiled nature.

Reasons to Camp in Uwharrie National Forest:

  • Scenic Trails: Uwharrie National Forest boasts a network of scenic trails, perfect for hiking, backpacking, and exploring the wilderness. Traverse through diverse landscapes, witness breathtaking views, and connect with nature on these well-maintained paths.
  • Outdoor Recreation: Engage in a variety of outdoor activities, including fishing, boating, and wildlife watching. Uwharrie National Forest offers opportunities to indulge in your favorite recreational pursuits, providing a playground for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds.
  • Camping Options: Experience the joy of camping amidst nature’s embrace. Uwharrie National Forest offers several campgrounds with various amenities, providing the chance to relax, unwind, and spend quality time in the great outdoors.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter a rich diversity of wildlife within Uwharrie National Forest. From deer and wild turkeys to elusive bobcats and a variety of bird species, the forest teems with fascinating creatures, offering ample opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers.
  • Peaceful Serenity: Escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and find solace in the peaceful serenity of Uwharrie National Forest. Immerse yourself in the tranquil surroundings, listen to the soothing sounds of nature, and rejuvenate your mind and body in this natural oasis.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Backpack, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Camping Stove, Water Filter, Headlamp


Nantahala National Forest

Enter a realm of natural wonder and tranquility in Nantahala National Forest, a breathtaking wilderness nestled in the heart of North Carolina. With its rugged mountains, pristine rivers, and lush forests, this forest offers a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature seekers. Explore the countless trails, witness stunning waterfalls, and embrace the serenity of Nantahala National Forest, where adventure and tranquility intertwine.

Reasons to Camp in Nantahala National Forest:

  • Scenic Beauty: Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of Nantahala National Forest, with its majestic mountains, deep gorges, and picturesque waterways. The diverse landscapes and breathtaking vistas provide endless opportunities for exploration and appreciation of nature’s wonders.
  • Outdoor Adventures: Nantahala National Forest offers a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Engage in thrilling activities such as hiking, mountain biking, fishing, whitewater rafting, and rock climbing, as you embrace the spirit of adventure amidst the forest’s pristine wilderness.
  • Water Recreation: Discover the joy of water recreation in Nantahala National Forest. With its crystal-clear rivers, serene lakes, and cascading waterfalls, the forest provides ample opportunities for swimming, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and fishing, creating unforgettable memories by the water.
  • Tranquil Camping: Experience the serenity of camping in Nantahala National Forest. Set up camp amidst the peaceful ambiance, and fall asleep under a canopy of stars. Enjoy the tranquility of nature, the soothing sounds of the forest, and the chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter a rich diversity of wildlife in Nantahala National Forest. Keep an eye out for black bears, white-tailed deer, otters, eagles, and numerous bird species as you explore the forest. Wildlife sightings add a sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural world.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Backpack, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Camping Stove, Water Filter, Headlamp


Mount Mitchell State Park

Ascend to the pinnacle of natural beauty at Mount Mitchell State Park, a majestic oasis perched atop the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. Marvel at the awe-inspiring vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see, explore the rugged trails that wind through ancient forests, and experience the exhilaration of standing on the summit of Mount Mitchell, where nature’s grandeur knows no bounds.

Reasons to Camp in Mount Mitchell State Park:

  • Panoramic Views: Camp in the midst of breathtaking panoramic views at Mount Mitchell State Park. The park offers stunning vistas from the summit of Mount Mitchell, where you can witness stunning sunrises and sunsets that paint the sky with vibrant colors.
  • Hiking Trails: Explore a network of scenic hiking trails that wind through lush forests and lead to captivating viewpoints. From leisurely walks to challenging hikes, Mount Mitchell State Park offers options for all skill levels, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature’s splendor.
  • Rich Biodiversity: Encounter a diverse range of flora and fauna within the park’s ecosystems. Mount Mitchell State Park is home to numerous plant and animal species, offering nature enthusiasts a chance to witness and appreciate the region’s rich biodiversity.
  • Star Gazing: Experience the magic of a clear night sky and indulge in stargazing at Mount Mitchell State Park. Far away from city lights, the park provides an ideal setting for observing the celestial wonders above, offering a serene and mesmerizing experience.
  • Campground Facilities: Enjoy comfortable camping facilities at the park’s campground, including campsites with amenities such as picnic tables, fire rings, and restrooms. Whether you prefer tent camping or RV camping, Mount Mitchell State Park offers a tranquil and convenient base for your outdoor adventures.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, Backpack, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Camping Stove, Water Filter, Binoculars


Stone Mountain State Park

Step into a realm of raw beauty and untamed wilderness at Stone Mountain State Park, an awe-inspiring sanctuary nestled in the heart of North Carolina. With its iconic granite dome, picturesque waterfalls, and lush forests, this park beckons adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. Experience the thrill of hiking, rock climbing, and camping amidst breathtaking landscapes that have stood the test of time. Stone Mountain State Park promises an unforgettable escape into nature’s embrace.

Reasons to Camp in Stone Mountain State Park:

  • Spectacular Scenery: Camp amidst stunning natural beauty in Stone Mountain State Park. From the awe-inspiring granite dome to the cascading waterfalls and verdant meadows, the park offers a visual feast for nature lovers.
  • Outdoor Recreation: Engage in a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, rock climbing, fishing, and picnicking. Stone Mountain State Park provides ample opportunities for adventure and exploration, catering to individuals and families seeking active and immersive experiences.
  • Tranquil Camping: Experience the tranquility of camping in the heart of nature. Stone Mountain State Park offers peaceful campsites where you can relax, unwind, and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, immersing yourself in the soothing sounds and serenity of the surroundings.
  • Wildlife and Nature: Encounter a diverse array of wildlife and immerse yourself in the wonders of nature. Stone Mountain State Park is home to various plant and animal species, providing a chance to observe and appreciate the rich biodiversity of the area.
  • Historical Significance: Explore the park’s historical sites and gain insights into the region’s past. From the historic Hutchinson Homestead to the remnants of the mid-19th-century cabins, Stone Mountain State Park offers glimpses into the area’s cultural and historical heritage.

Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, BackpackTent, Sleeping Bag, Camping Stove, Water Bottle, Binoculars


Jordan Lake State Recreation Area

Embrace the serenity of nature at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, a captivating oasis nestled in the heart of North Carolina. With its expansive lake, tranquil forests, and picturesque shorelines, this recreation area offers a perfect escape for outdoor enthusiasts. Engage in a multitude of activities such as boating, fishing, hiking, and camping, immersing yourself in the beauty and tranquility of Jordan Lake State Recreation Area.

Reasons to Camp in Jordan Lake State Recreation Area:

  • Scenic Lake Views: Camp near the shores of Jordan Lake and wake up to breathtaking views of the glistening water. The recreation area offers numerous campsites with easy access to the lake, allowing you to enjoy serene sunrises, peaceful evenings, and the beauty of nature reflected on the tranquil waters.
  • Water Activities: Dive into a world of water adventures at Jordan Lake. Whether you enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, or kayaking, the recreation area provides ample opportunities to indulge in your favorite water activities, creating lasting memories and ensuring endless fun in the sun.
  • Nature Trails: Explore the diverse ecosystems of Jordan Lake State Recreation Area through its network of nature trails. Hike through lush forests, meander along picturesque shorelines, and encounter a variety of wildlife along the way. The trails offer a chance to connect with nature and appreciate the natural beauty of the area.
  • Family-Friendly Environment: Jordan Lake State Recreation Area is an ideal destination for a family camping trip. The park offers family-friendly amenities, such as playgrounds, picnic areas, and designated swimming beaches, ensuring that everyone, from kids to adults, can enjoy a memorable and enjoyable camping experience.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Witness the wonders of wildlife in Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. The park is home to numerous bird species, including bald eagles and ospreys, as well as deer, turtles, and other fascinating creatures. Wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers will delight in the opportunities for sightings and nature photography.

Recommended Gear: Tent, Sleeping Bag, Camping Chairs, Cooler, Fishing Gear, Water Sports Equipment, Hiking Shoes


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