If you’ve never been to North Carolina, it’s time you pay this gorgeous state a visit. Home to natural wonders and idyllic landscapes, this state offers the perfect dichotomy of untouched sand dune coasts with rugged mountain vistas. Here’s our pick of the 18 best campgrounds in NC.
And there is truly nothing in the world quite like camping in North Carolina. If you’re thinking of pitching a tent or lugging an RV down to the Tar Heel State this summer, you might want to give one of these eighteen best campgrounds in NC a try.
Where: Pisgah National Forest, NC
From deliciously slow and beautiful sunset views off Shortoff Mountain to cascading waterfalls and everything in between, Linville Gorge offers the perfect campsites for adventurers. These campsites are for real backpackers and not the faint of heart, nestled in some of the most remote terrain in the entire state.
When you camp at Linville Gorge, you’ll be staying within the massive Pisgah National Forest. The gorges themselves dip almost 2,000 feet dip and sprawl across twelve miles of gorgeous terrain. It’s the perfect campground if you want to spend your days hiking, exploring, and enjoying the wild, untouched scenery of the forest.
Hanging Rock State Park
Where: Danbury, NC
Hanging Rock State Park has more than 18 miles of hiking trails and even a bike path that leads to gorgeous views of the Sauratown Mountains. There’s a 12-acre lake along with cascading waterfalls. Campers can choose from tent and trailer campgrounds along with cabins.
Mount Pisgah Campground
Where: Canton, NC
Mount Pisgah Campground offers some of the highest campsites you’ll find in the state, located on the Blue Ridge Parkway just 20 miles from Asheville. The campground is nestled high up into the clouds, offering gorgeous panoramic mountain views with observation decks, hiking trails, and more. There are more than 100 campsites available, many of which offer visitors access to excellent dining opportunities at the nearby Pisgah Inn.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Where: Nags Head, NC
Cape Hatteras National Seashore is one of the most famous camping destinations in the state. And why wouldn’t it be? Here, you can go to sleep to the sound of ocean waves and see sea turtles any time you step out on the beach. With gorgeous salt marshes and four separate campgrounds, Cape Hatteras offers plenty of ways for visitors to get up close and personal with the natural landscape.
Mount Mitchell State Park
Where: Burnsville, NC
Mount Mitchell State Park in Burnsville, NC is located on the highest peak east of the Mississippi. This is also one of the most gorgeous places to camp, offering dramatic observation areas with panoramic forest views. There’s even a museum on-site so you can learn about the natural history of the area. Along with numerous hiking trails (probably more than you’ll ever have time to explore) the campground is home to a nine-site tent area with grills, picnic tables, concession stands, and more.
Hammocks Beach State Park
Where: Swansboro, NC
Hammocks Beach State Park is situated on 323 acres and home to four separate – and gorgeous – islands. It is one of the most popular camping areas in the state, home to one-of-a-kind destinations like Bear Island, a three-mile undeveloped barrier island. You can only get there by canoe or kayak, but you’ll enjoy picturesque beachside camping with gorgeous ocean views and towering dunes.
Cape Lookout National Seashore
Where: Harkers Island, NC
Cape Lookout National Seashore is yet another beachside camping destination in North Carolina. This campground is positioned on the Southern Outer Banks on the Crystal Coast and is home to three separate barrier islands that cover 55 miles. It offers exceptional opportunities for windsurfing, birding, swimming, and shelling – plus, there are lighthouses for you to tour.
Pettigrew State Park
Where: Creswell, NC
Pettigrew State Park is home to a 16,600-acre lake named Lake Phelps. The major attraction of this destination is fishing – in fact, this lake has some of the best bass fishing in the state. However, the park is also a haven for history buffs. The park is home to ancient American Indian dugout canoes and even the grave of a famous Confederate general. There are sites for group and family camping alike, each of which features a picnic table and grill.
Carolina Beach State Park
Where: Carolina Beach, NC
A 761-acre park, Carolina Beach State Park offers some of the best fishing spots. It’s ideal for people seeking secluded campsites, as you can set your tent up beneath the canopy of the trees and spend days without seeing another visitor. There are miles of hiking trails along with family camping cabins that can be rented out.
Merchants Millpond State Park
Where: Gatesville, NC
Merchants Millpond is one of the state’s rarest ecological communities. Home to a swamp forest and a coastal pond, Merchants Millpond offers numerous camping options, from family campgrounds to walk-in group campsite. Five sites can only be accessed by backpacking along the Lassiter Trail, while ten can only be accessed by a canoe. These secluded campsites are perfect for people looking for a camping experience that is off the beaten path.
Where: Cherokee, NC
Smokemont is located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is incredibly spacious. With 142 separate campsites, it also has sites that can easily handle RVs that are up to 40’. Unfortunately, the sites have no hookups, but the campground is one of only two in the Great Smoky Mountains that are open throughout the entire year.
The scenery of this campground should speak for itself – but if that’s not enough of a reason to travel here, know that there will be plenty for you to do. The proximity to the national park offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, learning about local history, and enjoying the culture of the area.
Where: Waynesville, NC
Cataloochee Campground is another great destination for camping within the Smoky Mountains. The campground has 27 tent sites, with RVs up to 31’ allowed (again, no hookups are offered). It’s a quiet, peaceful campground that offers excellent opportunities for fishing, hiking, and horseback riding.
Lake Powhatan Campground
Where: Asheville, NC
Lake Powhatan Campground is another campground located within the sprawling Pisgah National Forest. It has a variety of options. You can choose among secluded and shaded tent sites along with upscale canvas platform tents for glamping. Many sites are even RV accessible with full hookups.
Lake Powhatan offers unrivaled natural beauty. From gorgeous views of the Appalachian Mountains to exceptional opportunities for mountain biking, hiking, and just relaxing, there is something here for everyone.
Stone Mountain State Park
Where: Roaring Gap, NC
If you plan on camping in an RV and want to stay in a beautiful, remote setting, then Stone Mountain State Park is the perfect choice for you. Here, you can enjoy more “primitive” RV camping, with 90 RV sites that are spacious and include water and electric utilities.
Tent camping is also available, as is hike-in backcountry camping.
Blue Bear Mountain
Where: Todd, NC
Blue Bear Mountain offers both RV and tent sites. This campground offers more than 30 sites in total, with a laidback, relaxed vibe that offers privacy and excitement all at once. You can tent camp or choose to stay in a modern cabin or a tepee for a “glamping” experience instead. Since this campground is located right in the Blue Ridge Mountain Range, you’ll enjoy some of the best scenery in the state.
Where: Graham County, NC
Cheoah Point is one of several campgrounds situated on Lake Santeetlah. However, it is one of the very best. Renowned for its gorgeous shoreside location, Cheoah Point sits on a tiny peninsula that extends well out into the massive lake. You can fish, swim, boat, and hike at this campground, which has 18 campsites. Six of them are RV-friendly, and there are also some primitive cabins available for rent.
Where: Boone, NC
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention at least one RV campground on our round-up of the best campgrounds in the state of North Carolina. Boone KOA is one of the highest-rated KOA campgrounds in North Carolina but is also one of the best RV campgrounds overall.
This one is home to a mixture of RV sites, all of which have full hookups. There are also grass-covered tent sites and cabin rentals. You’ll enjoy a variety of nearby activities and amenities, including a swimming pool, a petting zoo, and miniature golf.
Jones Lake State Park
Where: Elizabethtown, NC
Jones Lake State Park is home to the Carolina bays, a remarkable geological mystery that has stood the test of time. Now a 2308 acre park, Jones Lake offers multiple hiking trails, picnic areas, fire rings, grills, and more. Pay a visit to the visitor’s center, and you can learn all about the unique ecology of the area, from the pond cypress stands to the elegant bay thickets.
How We Picked
With hundreds of potential places to camp in North Carolina, narrowing down our list of the eighteen best campgrounds in NC wasn’t easy. From gorgeous ocean views to serene mountain vistas, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy here.
Whether you’re camping in an RV or in a tent, these campgrounds were rated some of the best for a few very simple reasons. Not only did they offer some of the best scenery for you to enjoy, but they also provided easy access to outdoor recreation choices like hiking, biking, and fishing. Many also featured on-site amenities like hook-ups, picnic tables, general stores, and swimming pools.
No matter where you choose to camp, rest assured that you will be in good hands when you choose to stay at one of the eighteen best campgrounds in NC this summer.