Explore the Tar Heel State – The 10 Best Camping Sites in North Carolina

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Embark on a wilderness adventure and discover the natural beauty of North Carolina at its finest. From the soaring peaks of the Appalachian Mountains to the serene shores of the Outer Banks, the Tar Heel State boasts an array of stunning and diverse camping sites that cater to every outdoor enthusiast’s needs. Whether you’re seeking a remote backcountry experience or a family-friendly campground with modern amenities, North Carolina has it all. In this guide, we’ll highlight the top 10 camping sites across the state, showcasing their unique features and why they deserve a spot on your outdoor bucket list. So, pack your gear and get ready to embark on a memorable camping journey in the heart of North Carolina.


Key Takeaways:

  • Diverse Landscapes: North Carolina offers a wide range of camping sites, from the coast to the mountains, catering to various outdoor enthusiasts.
  • State Parks: The state is home to numerous state parks with well-maintained camping facilities, providing a great opportunity to connect with nature.
  • Family-Friendly Options: There are several camping sites in North Carolina that are ideal for families, offering activities and amenities for all ages.
  • Adventure Activities: Many camping sites in the state provide opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
  • Rustic vs. Modern Camping: Campers can choose between primitive camping experiences and more modern, amenity-filled campgrounds, depending on their preference.
  • Reservation Tips: It is advisable to make reservations in advance, especially during peak seasons, to secure a spot at the most popular camping sites in North Carolina.
  • Leave-No-Trace Principles: Visitors to North Carolina’s camping sites should adhere to leave-no-trace principles to help preserve the natural beauty of the area for future generations.

Mount Mitchell State Campground

To truly experience the beauty and majesty of North Carolina, a visit to Mount Mitchell State Campground is a must. Located within the Pisgah National Forest, this campground offers a unique opportunity to camp in the shadow of the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. With an elevation of 6,684 feet, Mount Mitchell provides an unparalleled camping experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

Highest peak access

Highest peak access is one of the main attractions of Mount Mitchell State Campground. Campers have the opportunity to hike to the summit of Mount Mitchell, where they can enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The summit is accessible via a challenging but rewarding trail, allowing visitors to feel a sense of accomplishment while taking in the breathtaking scenery.

Scenic vistas

One of the most enticing aspects of Mount Mitchell State Campground is the scenic vistas that await visitors. The Blue Ridge Mountains provide a spectacular backdrop for camping, and the overlooks within the campground offer unmatched views of the surrounding area. Whether it’s sunrise or sunset, the captivating vistas will leave a lasting impression on all who visit.

Scenic vistas at Mount Mitchell State Campground are unparalleled, with opportunities for photography, sightseeing, and simply soaking in the natural beauty that surrounds the highest peak in the Eastern United States.

Carolina Beach State Park

One of the best camping sites in North Carolina is Carolina Beach State Park. Located near the vibrant town of Carolina Beach, this state park offers a variety of outdoor activities and stunning natural scenery.

Coastal camping

Coastal camping at Carolina Beach State Park offers visitors a unique experience of camping near the beach. The park provides several camping sites that are just a short walk away from the sandy shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Campers can enjoy the sound of crashing waves and the breathtaking view of the sunrise over the water.

Fishing spots

Park visitors with a passion for fishing will find Carolina Beach State Park to be an angler’s paradise. The park features designated areas for fishing, including a popular spot along the Cape Fear River. The river is known for its abundant population of fish, making it an ideal location for both experienced and novice anglers.

The park’s fishing spots offer opportunities to catch a variety of species, including red drum, flounder, and speckled trout. Visitors should be aware of potential hazards such as strong currents and rough surf when fishing near the river mouth and ocean. It is important to exercise caution and adhere to local fishing regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Stone Mountain State Park

Unlike some other crowded camping sites, Stone Mountain State Park offers a peaceful and serene camping experience in the heart of North Carolina. Situated near the town of Tar Heel, this park is a hidden gem for avid campers and outdoor enthusiasts. If you’re looking for the best campgrounds near Tar Heel, North Carolina, look no further than Stone Mountain State Park.

Waterfall views

Park visitors can enjoy breathtaking waterfall views at Stone Mountain State Park. The spectacular 200-foot Stone Mountain Falls is a must-see natural attraction, offering a picturesque backdrop for camping and hiking. The soothing sound of cascading water and the lush greenery surrounding the falls create a serene and tranquil atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for relaxation and photography.

Hiking trails

An extensive network of hiking trails awaits outdoor enthusiasts at Stone Mountain State Park. The park features over 18 miles of trails that traverse diverse terrain, including forests, streams, and rock formations. These trails cater to hikers of all skill levels, from leisurely strolls to challenging hikes, providing a unique opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the park.

Stone Mountain State Park is renowned for its iconic 600-foot granite dome, offering a challenging yet rewarding hike for adventurous visitors. The summit provides a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding landscapes, making it a highlight of the hiking experience. With various terrains and scenic viewpoints, the hiking trails at Stone Mountain State Park promise an unforgettable outdoor adventure for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Pisgah National Forest

Not many camping experiences can compare to the breathtaking beauty and natural wonders found at Pisgah National Forest. This expansive forest covers over 500,000 acres of land in the Appalachian Mountains, offering visitors an outdoor paradise filled with lush greenery, majestic waterfalls, and diverse wildlife.

Rugged beauty

An outdoor enthusiast’s dream, Pisgah National Forest boasts some of the most rugged and picturesque landscapes in North Carolina. The forest’s rugged beauty is highlighted by its towering peaks, deep gorges, and countless miles of hiking and biking trails, offering visitors the chance to explore its untamed wilderness. Whether you’re an experienced hiker looking for a challenging ascent or a casual nature lover seeking a peaceful stroll, Pisgah National Forest has something to offer for everyone.

Wildlife diversity

For wildlife enthusiasts, Pisgah National Forest is a haven of biodiversity, offering a rich variety of flora and fauna. The forest is home to an array of wildlife, including black bears, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and a multitude of bird species. With its diverse habitats, from dense forests to open meadows, Pisgah National Forest provides the perfect environment for observing wildlife in their natural element.

It is no wonder that Pisgah National Forest is a popular destination for nature photographers, bird-watchers, and wildlife enthusiasts alike, drawn to the opportunity to witness the region’s incredible biodiversity firsthand.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Now, let’s take a journey to the picturesque Cape Hatteras National Seashore, where camping enthusiasts can experience the beauty of North Carolina’s coast. This expansive stretch of protected seashore offers some of the best camping sites in the state, providing a perfect blend of nature and relaxation.

Oceanfront sites

For beach lovers, the oceanfront camping sites at Cape Hatteras National Seashore are a dream come true. Imagine waking up to the sound of waves crashing and the soothing ocean breeze. These pristine campsites offer stunning views and direct access to the beach, making them perfect for those seeking a truly immersive coastal camping experience. Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or a family, these oceanfront sites are sure to provide an unforgettable camping adventure.

Lighthouse tours

Oceanfront camping at Cape Hatteras National Seashore also offers the unique opportunity to explore the iconic lighthouse that stands proudly along the shoreline. Lighthouse tours allow campers to learn about the rich history of the area and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views from the top. It’s a great way to add some adventure and education to your camping trip, providing a break from the typical outdoor activities.

Seashore enthusiasts can indulge in the historical significance of the lighthouse and gain a deeper understanding of the area’s maritime heritage. The tours are informative and engaging, offering a glimpse into the seafaring past of the region. It’s a must-do experience for anyone visiting Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Great Smoky Mountains

For a truly magical camping experience, look no further than the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. This iconic range offers stunning scenery, diverse wildlife, and a range of outdoor activities, making it the perfect destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

Clingmans Dome proximity

Clingmans Dome, the highest peak in the Smokies and in North Carolina, is a must-see attraction for visitors to the area. The proximity of many camping sites to this iconic landmark means that campers can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape without straying too far from their tents. For those looking to experience the beauty of these mountains up close and personal, camping near Clingmans Dome is an unbeatable choice.

Old-growth forests

An additional allure of camping in the Great Smoky Mountains is the opportunity to explore their old-growth forests. These ancient, untouched woodlands are home to a rich variety of plant and animal species, offering visitors the chance to glimpse the natural beauty that has existed here for centuries. An overnight stay in these pristine, majestic forests provides an unparalleled immersion in the natural world.

Any camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains promises an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, enabling campers to reconnect with nature in an unspoiled, serene environment. The old-growth forests offer a rare chance to witness the region’s natural splendor in all its untouched and awe-inspiring glory.

Hanging Rock State Park

Despite its relatively small size, Hanging Rock State Park is one of the most popular outdoor destinations in North Carolina. Known for its stunning views and diverse range of recreational activities, this park offers the perfect escape for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike.

Rock formations

Hanging Rock State Park is named after its iconic quartzite cliffs that rise dramatically from the surrounding landscape. These striking rock formations are a favorite among rock climbers and hikers, offering a challenging yet rewarding experience. The park also features unique geological features such as the famed Hanging Rock and Moore’s Knob, providing visitors with unparalleled panoramic vistas of the surrounding Piedmont region.

Lake activities

For those looking to cool off on a hot summer day, Hanging Rock State Park offers a variety of lake activities. The park’s centerpiece, Lake Katharine, provides opportunities for swimming, fishing, and boating. Visitors can rent canoes and kayaks to explore the tranquil waters, or simply relax on the sandy beach and soak up the natural beauty of the area.

Park visitors can also take advantage of the numerous hiking trails that wind their way around the lake, offering scenic views and opportunities for wildlife spotting. Whether you’re an avid angler, a water sports enthusiast, or simply a nature lover, Hanging Rock State Park has something to offer for everyone.

Linville Gorge Wilderness

Keep your sense of adventure alive as you venture into the Linville Gorge Wilderness in North Carolina. This area, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a rugged and remote camping experience.

Dramatic landscape

Wilderness enthusiasts will be awed by the dramatic landscape of the Linville Gorge Wilderness. Towering cliffs, roaring waterfalls, and lush forests create a breathtaking backdrop for camping and hiking. The unique rock formations and untouched wilderness make this area a prime destination for those seeking a true outdoor escape.

Challenging hikes

An abundance of challenging hikes await those who are eager to explore the Linville Gorge Wilderness. Hikers can test their skills on rugged trails that wind through the steep and rocky terrain, providing breathtaking views of the gorge and surrounding areas. The challenging nature of these hikes adds an element of excitement and adventure for experienced outdoor enthusiasts.

Dramatic cliffs, rugged terrain, and steep inclines make the Linville Gorge Wilderness a haven for experienced hikers seeking a wild and challenging outdoor experience. It is essential for hikers to come fully prepared with sturdy footwear, ample water, and a willingness to navigate the tough and demanding trails of this stunning wilderness.

Ocracoke Campground

Keep in mind that North Carolina offers some of the best camping sites in the country, and Ocracoke Campground is no exception. If you want to explore the Tar Heel State, consider checking out my article on the 10 BEST Places to Go Camping in North Carolina for more inspiration.

Remote island experience

One of the most appealing aspects of Ocracoke Campground is its remote island experience. Set in the Outer Banks, this campground provides a true escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With limited access by ferry, you can enjoy the peace and tranquility of this secluded island.

Pristine beaches

Experience some of the most pristine beaches on the East Coast right at your doorstep. Whether you’re into swimming, sunbathing, or beachcombing, Ocracoke Campground offers easy access to miles of untouched shoreline.

For instance, you can watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, or take an evening stroll along the beach to witness a breathtaking sunset. The natural beauty of the surroundings is truly unparalleled.

Merchants Millpond State Park

After exploring THE BEST 10 Campgrounds near Tar Heel, NC you will find Merchants Millpond State Park. This tranquil park is a hidden gem in northeastern North Carolina, offering a unique camping experience surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, avid camper, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat, this state park has something for everyone.

Canoe-friendly waterways

On your visit to Merchants Millpond State Park, you will have the opportunity to explore its intricate network of canoe trails that wind through picturesque cypress trees and vibrant flora. The peaceful and serene waters are perfect for paddling, making it an ideal destination for canoeing enthusiasts of all skill levels. The park offers rentals for canoes, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the pristine natural surroundings as they navigate through the tranquil millpond.

Spanish moss charm

Canoefriendly As you venture through the park’s waterways, you’ll be captivated by the enchanting beauty of Spanish moss gracefully draped from the branches of the cypress trees. This mesmerizing sight adds a touch of romance and nostalgia to the landscape, creating a truly magical atmosphere. Whether you’re photography enthusiasts or simply nature lovers, the Spanish moss charm at Merchants Millpond State Park is a sight to behold.

Spanish moss, cypress trees, canoe trails, natural beauty

Explore the Tar Heel State – The 10 Best Camping Sites in North Carolina

Presently, North Carolina offers a vast array of camping experiences for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. From the majestic mountains to the stunning coast, the Tar Heel State has something for everyone. Whether you prefer to rough it in a tent or enjoy the comforts of a cabin, there is a camping site for you. With this guide to the top 10 camping sites in North Carolina, you can plan your next outdoor adventure with confidence and ease, knowing that you will be experiencing some of the best that the state has to offer.

With its diverse landscapes and abundance of natural beauty, North Carolina is truly a haven for camping enthusiasts. So, pack your gear and get ready to experience the great outdoors in one of the top camping sites in the state. Whether you are looking for a peaceful retreat in the mountains or a beachside paradise, North Carolina has the perfect camping site waiting for you. So, start exploring and make memories that will last a lifetime.


Q: What are the top 10 camping sites in North Carolina?

A: The top 10 camping sites in North Carolina are Linville Gorge Wilderness, Pisgah National Forest, Smoky Mountains National Park, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, Uwharrie National Forest, Kerr Lake State Recreation Area, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mount Mitchell State Park, and Hanging Rock State Park.

Q: What are the best times to go camping in North Carolina?

A: The best times to go camping in North Carolina are typically in the spring and fall when the weather is mild and comfortable.

Q: What should I pack for camping in North Carolina?

A: When camping in North Carolina, it is important to pack essentials such as a tent, sleeping bag, cooking supplies, food, water, clothing appropriate for the season, insect repellent, a first-aid kit, and any personal items you may need.

Q: Are there any specific camping regulations in North Carolina?

A: Yes, there are specific camping regulations in North Carolina. It is important to familiarize yourself with the rules and guidelines of the camping site you choose, including any permit requirements, fire regulations, and waste disposal policies.

Q: What are some popular activities to do while camping in North Carolina?

A: Popular activities to enjoy while camping in North Carolina include hiking, fishing, swimming, wildlife watching, and simply enjoying the natural beauty of the surroundings.

Q: Are there any safety tips to keep in mind while camping in North Carolina?

A: Yes, it is important to stay aware of wildlife, weather conditions, and to always properly secure food to avoid attracting animals. Additionally, be mindful of any outdoor hazards and always follow safety guidelines when hiking or engaging in other outdoor activities.

Q: Can I bring my pet when camping in North Carolina?

A: Many camping sites in North Carolina are pet-friendly, but it is best to check with the specific site beforehand and always keep your pet on a leash and clean up after them to ensure a positive experience for all campers.


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