When it comes to outdoor fun, Camping in NC North Carolina does not disappoint.
Not only is there an abundance of outdoor recreation, but there are also many traditional tent and RV sites at state parks and campgrounds.
Camping is so popular that it’s almost part of NC culture. There’s truly something for everyone – even if you’re not a big fan of outdoor living. In that case, you may want to try one of North Carolina’s glamping locations.
While camping in North Carolina, you’ll see gorgeous towering mountain ranges and outer bank islands in all their natural beauty. But if you’re looking for the perfect campsite, don’t leave it up to chance (or Google Maps), bookmark this top 10 camping in NC spots for future reference.
If you have your sights set on camping in NC, you’ve got the right idea. Picturesque mountain ranges and beautiful beaches draw many visitors every year. And North Carolina’s vast landscape can keep you entertained year after year. There’s so much to see and do that you’ll never get bored.
Check out our list of 10 Best Campsites in NC for Family Camping
Best Campsites in NC – Blue Ridge Parkway
The campgrounds along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina offer the perfect place to rest your head after a day of outdoor exploration.
The parkway is considered a recreational motorway that spans 469 miles along the Blue Ridge mountains. Your jaw will be dropping long before you pull up to the campsite.
Here, you’ll have your choice of 9 different campsites along the parkway. You could even stay at a different site as you make your way up or down the mountain. Some of the campsites accept reservations, so you can try to plan your trip in advance.
If you’re arriving via RV you’ll find it easy to snag a spot, but don’t expect to find any hookups.
Regardless of where you spend most of your time, you’ll want to check out the waterfalls at Linville Falls at Mile 316. If you want to hike to the very top of the mountain, set up camp at Mt. Pisgah at Mile 408.
Best Campsites in NC – Campfire Lodgings
This is the exact experience most people think of when they think North Carolina camping. At Campfire Lodgings, you’re at the mountaintop with all its amazing views.
This campsite does have RV hookups, so it’s perfect for the family camping trip. We all know camping with toddlers is easier when you have an RV.
Campfire Lodgings has a lot of options for campers.
For example, if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to camp in a yurt, now is your chance to find out. And if you don’t know what a yurt is, you probably have to experience it. It’s in the rules, or something.
Yurts are interesting structures that will make camping a more comfortable and memorable experience.
You can also rent a cabin or stay in the mountainside cliff house. It’s literally a house built into the cliff. This wouldn’t be your typical camping experience, of course, but it would be a lot of fun.
And, of course, there are also options if you want to rough it with a traditional tent and sleeping bag.
Another bonus to staying at this campsite is that you’re only about 10 minutes from downtown Ashville.
Best Campsites in NC – Lake Powhatan Campground
This is another fun campsite that’s located just outside of Asheville, NC. It is a popular destination for local campers and tourists, so you may want to call ahead to reserve your spot.
Lake Powhatan is the perfect campsite for families with young kids as they have a few more comforts than you may expect. As you probably would expect, potty time isn’t always fun when camping with toddlers. But you’ll find standard toilets, showers and a swimming area centrally located to all campsites.
No matter where you stay on the campgrounds, you’ll be within walking distance of the lake, and you’ll have access to all the hiking and mountain biking your heart could desire.
You’ll find trails that are suitable for all levels, even for families with young kids. And you’ll find trails with more advanced and technical options for serious hikers and mountain bikers.
Best Campsites in NC – Lake James State Park
Who wouldn’t love some relaxing time at the lake? Lake James State Park quenches your thirst for water activities while you hike and live amongst nature.
Here, campers can enjoy boating, fishing, hiking, swimming and biking.
And there’s plenty of room for everyone. With 20 backpack campsites near the parking lot and 30-boat-in campsites, you may find the perfect spot for your annual camping trip.
This is what camping in NC should be like.
Best Campsites in NC – Davidson River Campground
This campground provides access to many of North Carolina’s gorgeous landmarks. During your camping trip at Davidson River Campground, you can enjoy all the amenities, and then explore local attractions like Sliding Rock, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Looking Glass Falls.
The Davidson River Campground in the Pisgah National Forest is a good option for all campers, especially families. Kids will love tubing, fishing or swimming in the Davidson River. And outdoor enthusiasts may find their adventures along the mountain biking or hiking trails. There are also picnic tables, campfire circles and flushing toilets within each and every camping loop. It’s like having the best of both words while you’re roughing it outdoors.
Best Campsites in NC – Bear Den Family Campground
Don’t get too nervous. You won’t actually be sleeping in a bear den. The Bear Den Family Campground was actually voted Best Campground of 2016 by the Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine. That designation probably has something to do with the wealth of activities you’ll find here.
Naturally, Bear Den Family Campground has all the basics you’d expect from any campground, including hiking, biking and fishing (by the way, you can bike throughout their 400-acrewooded forest).
But Bear Den also has more than you might expect from a typical campsite. Here, you’ll find volleyball, basketball, badminton and a fully-equipped game room to keep the kids occupied on those inevitable rainy days.
As you might expect, a campground of this caliber is also RV-friendly with 30 and 50 amp hookups and plenty of space.
Bring your tent or rent one of their spacious cabins for the family.
Best Campsites in NC – Cabin Creek Campground
Cabin Creek is RV-friendly with spacious lots and ample hookups.
Coastal NC is quite a different experience than inland. And if you have the opportunity, you should try camping both. Cabin Creek Campground happens to be located on the coast of North Carolina.
One of the benefits to coastal camping is that you have full access to exploring the Outer Bank islands. Each one is unique, and you’ll definitely want to see them all.
You’ll also be close to seaside towns like Wilmington, so be sure to bring some decent clothes to have a nice lunch or dinner out in one of these quaint villages.
But enough about exploring North Carolina. You may not even want to venture out until you’ve experienced all the amenities of Cabin Creek Campground.
This is one of the very few campsites where you can access Wi-Fi, do your own laundry and take a hot shower.
Best Campsites in NC – Great Smoky Mountains National Park
This national park is by far the most visited national park of them all. After spending a few hours here, you’ll see exactly why.
At Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll find 850 miles of hiking trails, amazing fall foliage, impressive waterfalls, and campsites you’ll want to call home.
So, why go out of your way to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Well, how about the seeing the tallest peaks in the eastern United States?
Or an ecosystem of over 100 thousand plants and animals? Or more than 90 historic structures?
There’s no doubt that there’s a lot to see and do at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Best Campsites in NC – Cape Hatteras Campgrounds
There are many obvious benefits to camping along the seashore, and Cape Hatteras has them all.
Located about as close as you can get to the ocean, Cape Hatteras Campgrounds makes the perfect spot to take an inexpensive NC beach vacation. Just keep in mind that you’re not actually allowed to camp on the beach (although, how cool would that be?).
You must stay within designated camping areas, which are found a bit further inland. Still, if you’ve priced hotels in the area, you’ll know that camping here is by far the most budget-friendly way to go.
And don’t worry about having that “living off the land” look on vacation. Cape Hatteras Campgrounds are equipped with modern restrooms, portable water an unheated showers.
Best Campsites in NC – Ocracoke Campground
For a completely unique camping experience, consider Ocracoke Campground for your next vacation. But you should know upfront that you cannot get here by land. This Outer Banks campgrounds is only accessible by ferry or aircraft. Bring your extra-long tent stakes because you’ll be setting up your tent in sandy soil.
Ocracoke Campgrounds is very close to the beach, separated only by sand dunes. This is the perfect spot for a relaxing beach experience, whether you’re alone or with the family.
General Camping Tips for North Carolina
As with camping anywhere, you want to arrive prepared and remain safe. Here are some tips for doing just that.
- Double check your tent
Unless you have new gear, it’s important to check for tears to avoid any surprises when you get to your campsite. Spring in North Carolina can get rainy, and you don’t want to find a hole as water is dripping on your face.
- Check the forecast
North Carolina can get hit rather hard during hurricane season, so if you’re traveling during this time be sure to check the forecast before you leave. In fact, it’s always a good idea to check for any impending storms.
- Bring bug spray
Mosquitos are the one drawback to camping in North Carolina, so be sure to bring your bug spray – and lots of it.
- Bring a tarp
Even if there’s no rain in the forecast, bring a tarp. You never know when an unexpected rainstorm may pop up, and it’s best to be prepared.
- Get cold weather sleeping bags
Best Season to Camp in North Carolina
If you’re planning to one of the best campsites in NC, you’ll probably want to avoid winter months and hurricane season. This means that the absolute best months to camp in this state fall within the early summer season.
This is especially true if you’re planning a beach vacation along the Outer Banks.
Fall can be a pretty time too, but it’s still hurricane season and it can get rather chilly, especially at night.
This is considered off-season, so you will likely get better rates, but be sure to check the weather before you go. You don’t want to get evacuated or worse during a hurricane or tropical storm.
What to bring on your NC camping trip – Camping essentials
You’ll find some of the best campsites in NC off the beaten path. They may sit at the peak of a mountain or on the Outer Banks, far from the bustling beaches. This isn’t a time to forget the important stuff. If you find yourself near a town, it’s probably going to be a charming little vacation village or local town. Let’s just say that you’re probably going to be more than a few miles away from the nearest Walmart.
So be sure to stock up your camping supply list with the basics like:
- Tent, poles, stakes – check out the review for Best 4-person Tents
- Extra tarp
- Sleeping bags appropriate for the time of the year
- Pillows and blankets
- Camping chairs with built-in cooler
- Headlamps or flashlights (with extra batteries)
- In-tent Hanging Fan with light
- Firewood, firestarter or propane – check out our review of these portable fire pits: Solo Stove Ranger and Biolite Firepit
- Insect repellent (very important in NC summers)
- Any prescription meds
Regardless of the time of year, you’ll want to pack layers for chilly nights and rainy days. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
You’ll also want to bring some cooking basics, so you don’t have to go out to eat every night. Going out to eat is a compelling option along the coast, but it’s quite another story when you’re miles from civilization. At a minimum, bring a Firestarter, some coals, pots, pans and utensils.
And unless you plan to live off the land, you’ll also need to bring some basic ingredients.
In the late summer and fall, temperatures can drop as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night. If you’re traveling during this time, make sure your sleeping bags are rated for cold weather.
Also, bring a pad to put under your sleeping bag. Even if you’re not worried about sleeping temperatures, this will help keep you more comfortable.
Plan to visit one or more of the campsites on this list and you may make it a point to come back to NC for camping every year thereafter.
Camping In North Carolina, NC State Parks video
Enjoy your camping trip! 🙂