Best Camping in North Carolina: Top 10 Places to Go

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Best Camping in North Carolina: Top 10 Places to Go
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North Carolina is home to a large number of stunning campgrounds. You'll find serene salt marshes, freshwater lakes, meandering rivers, wild rhododendrons blooming with color, gushing waterfalls, and limitless options to pitch your camper amid them between the sea and the mountains.

camping in north california

Camping in North Carolina means entering a picturesque paradise with its sun-drenched Atlantic coastline and sweeping Blue Ridge Mountains. The state not only has a beautiful natural landscape, but it also has a lot of other things to see and do. Here are a few of North Carolina's top camping spots. Additionally, we also suggest you take a Jackery Solar Generator on your camping trip to ensure you have enough power on the go.    

Top 10 Places to Camp in North Carolina

With so many great campgrounds to select from, camping in North Carolina is rugged to the top. The state offers a wide variety of fantastic glamping cabins in addition to traditional tent and RV camping, free dispersed campsites, open RV parks, and much more.

North Carolina is known for its stunning natural scenery, friendly people, and distinctive biodiversity. Although there are many excellent possibilities, we've chosen the top ten camping spots in North Carolina.

1. Hanging Rock State Park

Hanging Rock State Park

Location: 1790 Hanging Rock Park Rd, Danbury, NC 27016

Phone: 336-593-8480

Website: Hanging Rock State Park  

When to Visit: Spring, summer, and fall (early morning)

Best Campsites: Hanging Rock Family Campground

Hanging Rock State Park began as a Civilian Conservation Corps project and is now a park that provides every element of a classic outdoor experience. It is situated in Stokes County, 30 miles north of Winston-Salem.

The Sauratown Mountains are the remains of a once-powerful range of peaks, and they were named for the Saura Indians, who were early settlers in the area. Wind, water, and other factors have worn down towering peaks for millions of years.

There are over 20 miles of hiking paths, waterfalls, and a beautiful lake where you may swim, go boating, and camp. Some trails lead to waterfalls, rock outcrops, stunning mountain views, and even a cave.

Sleep soundly to the lullaby of chorus frogs and spring peepers by renting a holiday cabin. Join an interpretive program to learn something fresh about the abundance of nature. A calm mountain lake that beckons swimmers and fishers lies in the hills. Camping parks and picnic sites are the perfect places to spend time with loved ones.     

"So much to do and homemade ice cream at the end of the road; my wife and teen daughters stayed by the lake and loved it while I climbed the trail to the summit."

2. Mount Mitchell State Park

Mount Mitchell State Park

Location: 2388 NC-128, Burnsville, NC 28714

Phone: 828-675-4611

Website: Mount Mitchell State Park  

When to Visit: October

Best Campsites: 9 Walk-In Campsites, Pisgah National Forest Campground

The first state park in North Carolina was established at Mount Mitchell State Park in Yancey County, 30 miles northeast of Asheville. The mountain, which rises to a height of 6,684 feet, is the highest point east of the Mississippi River, and on a clear day, an observation deck offers stunning mountain vistas.

A broad network of complex paths, such as the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail, reach into nearby wilderness areas, leading to backpacking opportunities within Pisgah National Forest, while easy trails at the peak explore the Fraser fir forest. 

Mount Mitchell's summit is the highest point east of the Mississippi River, situated in the Black Mountain range of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina.

Campers backpacking into the Pisgah National Forest can also use the campground and park their vehicles overnight. Bear-resistant food canisters or storage sacks are highly recommended if you're camping at Mount Mitchell or in the neighborhood.

"This is one of the stops off the north side of the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you are traveling the parkway, this should be one of your stops for several reasons."

3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Camping in North Carolina Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Location: Swain & Haywood counties in North Carolina; Sevier, Blount, & Cocke counties in Tennessee

Phone: 865-436-1200

Website: Great Smoky Mountain National Park  

When to Visit: June, July, October

Best Campsites: Backcountry Campground, Frontcountry, Elkmont Campground

On the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, founded in 1926, is made of hill after ridge of seemingly infinite woodland. This mountain range is known throughout the world for its plant and animal life diversity, the majesty of its old mountains, and its history of southern Appalachian mountain culture.

It was given the name Smokies because of the persistent morning fog. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has approximately 80 historic structures, breathtaking floral displays, and a variety of fauna to enjoy.

Experience one of America's oldest mountain ranges by hiking and camping there. Nine campgrounds are great for returning to nature in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Every campground presents a different experience. The park has everything you require, whether seeking alone time or a party of seven or more.

"We come from Florida every year to see this beautiful National Park. There are so many trails for all ages and abilities. We especially love the winter when the forest turns into a wonderland."

4. Nantahala National Forest

Camping in North Carolina Nantahala National Forest

Location: Bryson City, NC 28713

Phone: 828-257-4200

Website: Nantahala National Forest  

When to Visit: Fall

Best Campsites: Ammons Branch, Bristol Horse Camp, Cable Cove Campground

Southwest North Carolina's mountains and valleys are home to the Nantahala National Forest. The Nantahala National Forest, the largest of North Carolina's four national forests, is 531,148 acres in size and has an elevation range of 5,800 feet at Lone Bald in Jackson County to 1,200 feet at the Hiwassee River in Cherokee County.

Three districts comprise the forest: the Nantahala in Franklin, NC, the Tusquitee in Murphy, and the Cheoah in Robbinsville, NC. The Cherokee language is where all district names originate.

Visitors can engage in everything from whitewater rafting to camping in the Nantahala National Forest. There are chances for hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and users of off-highway vehicles on the more than 600 kilometers of trails.

The Nantahala National Forest provides group and essential camping and full-featured campgrounds. Almost every campground is next to a lake, river, or stream in the forest.

"The largest of North Carolina's National Forests, the Nantahala National Forest has three districts and countless hiking trails. We chose to hike on the Siler Bald via the Appalachian Trail in the Nantahala District in Franklin, NC."

5. Mount Rainier National Park 

Camping in North Carolina Mount Rainier National Park

Location: 405 Vogel State Park Rd, Blairsville, GA 30512

Phone: 360-569-2211

Website: Mount Rainier National Park  

When to Visit: Summer to early Fall

Best Campsites: Cougar Rock Campground, Group Campground, Ohanapecosh Campground

Mount Rainier, an active volcano, is the most glaciated summit in the contiguous United States and the source of five significant rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows surround the freezing volcano, while Mount Rainier's lower slopes are covered in ancient forest.

In the habitats of the park, wildlife is abundant. Around two million people visit Mount Rainier National Park yearly to do hiking, mountain climbing, backpacking, and other activities. A visit to Mount Rainier is necessary for every Washington State travel.

This spring, take a stroll through a temperate inland rainforest. This summer, hike through the wildflowers and see the mighty waterfalls. Each autumn, marvel at the changing colors. Each winter, experience thrilling skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.

There are several camping choices in the Mt. Rainier area. Within its limits, Mount Rainier National Park manages four campgrounds. These campgrounds provide access to portions of the park with names like Paradise and Sunrise and well-known ones like Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh.    

"Mt Rainer has a short growing season due to its high altitudes. In July and August, it's gorgeous wildflowers. In September, it's stunning fall colors."

6. White Lake State Park

White Lake State Park

Location: 1632 White Mountain Hwy, Tamworth, NH 03886

Phone: 603-323-7350

Website: White Lake State Park  

When to Visit: Summer

Best Campsites: 5W, 7W, 8W; Campground 1- 1A, 4, 8, 8A

White Lake, an illustration of a typical glacial lake, is located along the shore of White Lake State Park. Glacial ice was buried during the Ice Age behind glacial till or debris. The White Mountain region's best swimming may be at White Lake State Park, a 902-acre state park in Tamworth, New Hampshire, next to the White Mountain National Forest.

Visitors are encouraged to stroll around the lake on a paved path, searching for loons or evidence of beaver activity. They can also try their hand at the excellent trout fishing the lake offers or check out one of our boat rental options.

The park has a day-use area, gathering spaces, and a campground with sites for families and youth groups. The 168-site White Lake State Park Campground is situated on a 72-acre pitch pine stand, a National Natural Landmark, surrounded by a lake created by glaciers. Tents, trailers, and RVs can all park at campsites.   

"Stopped for a walk around the lake. There are pretty views and a nice beach area. Nice playground for the little ones, too."

7. Cape Lookout National Seashore

Cape Lookout National Seashore

Location: Outer Banks, Carteret County, North Carolina, United States

Phone: 252-728-2250

Website: Cape Lookout National Seashore  

When to Visit: April to May, September to November

Best Campsites: Cape Lookout RV Park, Great Island Cabin Camp

The 55-mile-long Cape Lookout National Seashore comprises three uninhabited barrier islands and is situated on the Crystal Coast in the southern Outer Banks of North Carolina. The region has a long and exciting human history.

It is well recognized for the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, its surf fishing, its expansive beaches, and as a haven for wild horses and shorebirds. Fishermen, whalers, stockmen, and witnesses to shipwrecks and dramatic rescues have called these islands home.

There is something for everyone at Cape Lookout, including horseback riding, shelling, fishing, birding, camping, lighthouse climbing, and visiting ancient villages. When visiting these isolated beaches, pack all the food, water, and supplies you'll need (and carry your waste out of the park). The availability of campsites further enhances the quiet appeal of this natural beauty.

"Beautiful island! We took the ferry over a short ride—and got pics of the lighthouse and Keepers Inn. We took the beach shuttle to the point and enjoyed the beach area for a few hours. Lots of shells."

8. Jones Lake State Park  

Jones Lake State Park

Location: 4117 NC-242 N, Elizabethtown, NC 28337

Phone: 910-588-4550

Website: Jones Lake State Park  

When to Visit: November to February

Best Campsites: 20 wooded campsites, Jones Lake Family Campground

Jones Lake State Park, 40 miles southeast of Fayetteville in Bladen County, was the first state park to admit Black Americans when it first opened. It has since become a popular spot for community picnics, swimming, hiking, and paddling.

The tea-colored waters conceal the lake's 8-foot maximum depth. Jones Lake and the neighboring Salters Lake are two of the enigmatic geological phenomena known as Carolina bays, a string of circular depressions along the Atlantic coast whose origins are unclear. 

"Gorgeous and well-maintained campground. Excellent hiking on trails. It's a good place to swim and kayak. The staff is friendly and helpful. Enjoyed stay."

9. Lake James State Park

Lake James State Park

Location: 7321 NC-126, Nebo, NC 28761

Phone: 828-584-7728

Website: Lake James State Park  

When to Visit: April to October (early morning or late afternoon)

Best Campsites: Paddy’s Creek Campground, Catawba River Campground, Long Arm Paddle-in Campground

Lake James, a stunning lake with more than 150 miles of shoreline, lies tucked away in the undulating hilly terrain at the base of Linville Gorge. The environment is dominated by steep, forested ridges covered in hardwoods, pines, and hemlocks.

Pink lady slippers, Jack-in-the-pulpit, passion flowers, Indian pipe, and cardinal flowers are common wildflowers in the park. Mountain laurels, rhododendrons, and flaming azalea are abundant in the mountainous terrain. At Lake James State Park, you can find deer, flying squirrels, red and gray foxes, rabbits, muskrats, and mink.

A scenic lake ideal for boating, swimming, and fishing is located in Lake James State Park, 50 miles northeast of Asheville in the counties of Burke and McDowell.

You can spend the night beside the lake at campsites at the Catawba River and Paddy's Creek accesses, some of which require paddling. The campgrounds that accept reservations exclusively have vault toilets, picnic tables, and tent pads. Kayaks and canoes can typically be rented.

"Had a little family visit to the lake on a Saturday afternoon. I walked a short trail along the water and enjoyed the view. Lots of folks in the water and fishing along the shoreline."

10. Carolina Beach State Park

Carolina Beach State Park

Location: 1010 State Park Rd, Carolina Beach, NC 28428

Phone: 910-458-8206

Website: Caroline Beach State Park  

When to Visit: Summer

Best Campsites: Carolina Beach Park Campground

The Venus flytrap, a distinctive carnivorous plant, may be found in Carolina Beach State Park in New Hanover County, 12 miles south of Wilmington. The park's marina provides access to the Cape Fear River and the Intracoastal Waterway, making the area attractive for boaters and anglers.

Explore 8.5 miles of hiking on nine paths (two of which are accessible to those in wheelchairs), 1 mile of biking, and remote campsites hidden among towering trees with the option of tent excursions or cabins for up to six people.

Double beds, bunk beds, heating/air conditioning, electrical outlets, and other amenities can be found in cabins. Carolina Beach State Park has more than 80 shaded campsites for tent and trailer campers, nine RV/trailer sites with full hookups, and two sites that are wheelchair accessible. Camping is both permitted and encouraged at the park.   

"Awesome campgrounds! I took my fiancee on her first camping trip, and they had everything I needed to ensure her experience was a success. They have bathrooms, showers, dump stations, and trails, are close to the beach, and have easy access to the marina."

Camping in North Carolina Essentials

Starting your camping trip at a campground is strongly advised if you consider camping in North Carolina. To make the experience easier and more comfortable, you can bring more gear if you park your car directly next to your tent. We often pack a list of camping must-haves for the best camping in North Carolina. 

- Campsite Essentials: tent, sleeping bag, table & chair, flashlight, firewood;

- Portable Power Generator: Jackery Solar Generator 300 Plus & 1000 Plus

- Camp Cooking Essentials: cooking grill, stove, knife, cutting board, coffee maker, food

- Camping Clothes: water-proof jacket, hiking pants, boots, gloves

- Cleaning Essentials: hand sanitizer, toothbrush, shower kit, suncream, towel

- First Aid Kit: personal medication, bandages, finger splints, eye drops

>> Download Camping Essentials Checklist PDF

A portable solar generator is necessary to pack when camping in North Carolina. A portable solar generator is a great way to guarantee power wherever you need it, even if there is no nearby power grid. If you're camping or off the grid, the Jackery Solar Generator can keep your electronic devices running for hours or even days.

Jackery Solar Generators for Camping in North Carolina

Many campsites in North Carolina need noise levels to be less than 60 decibels, including generators. This means a solar generator, especially the Jackery Solar Generator, is great for camping in North Carolina because it makes less noise and can maintain more power.

how jackery solar generator works for camping

The parts that make up a Jackery Solar Generator are solar panels and a portable power station. The Portable Power Station can be recharged in several ways, including solar panels, AC outlets, and carports. This means that power can be made even at night or when it's raining. Jackery Solar Panels entirely use sun energy with a conversion rate of over 25%.

Different Jackery Solar Generators have different power outputs, from 240Wh to 24 kWh. We suggest Jackery Solar Generator 300 Plus and 1000 Plus for camping trips, which can charge most of your camping gear.

 

Jackery Solar Generator 300 Plus

Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Plus

Capacity

288Wh

1264.64Wh (1.25-5kWh)

Life Cycle

3000 cycles to 80%+ capacity

4000 cycles to 70%+ capacity

Battery Cell

LiFePO4

LiFePO4

Recharging Methods

Explorer 300 Plus + SolarSaga 40W: 9.5H; AC Adapter: 2H; Car Adapter: 5.5H; USB Charging: 2.8H

Explorer 1000 Plus + 2*SolarSaga 100W: 9H; Explorer 1000 Plus + 6*SolarSaga 200W: 2H; AC Adapter: 1.7H; 12V Car Adapter: 7H

Output Ports

1*AC Output: 120V, 60Hz, 300W (600W Peak); 1*USB-A Output: 15W Max 5V⎓3A; 1*USB-C Output: 15W Max 5V⎓3A; 100W Max, 2*USB-C Output: 5V⎓3A (5V, 9V, 12V, 15V, 20V up to 5A); 1*Car Port: 12V⎓10A

3*AC Output: 120V~60Hz, 2000W (4000W Peak); 2*USB-A Output: 18W Max, 5-5V⎓3A; 2*USB-C Output: 100W Max, (5V, 9V, 12V, 15V, 20V up to 5A); 1*Car Port: 12V⎓10A

Input Ports

1*AC Input: 100V, 60Hz, 15A Max; 1*DC Input: 12-27V⎓5A, 100W Max

1*AC Input: 100V-120V, 60Hz, 15A Max; 1*DC Input: 12-60V, 8A ⎓ 11A Max, Double to 22A/800W Max

Jackery Solar Generator 300 Plus

A compact and aesthetically pleasing portable solar generator, the Jackery Solar Generator 300 Plus, is available in the market. The Jackery Explorer 300 Plus portable power station and the SolarSaga 40W solar panels enable a capacity of 288Wh and a power output of 300W.

Equipped with two PD ports capable of delivering a remarkable 100W of power each, this device enables you to charge several gadgets efficiently. For example, it can charge your phone, camera, and computer simultaneously, enhancing the enjoyment of your camping trip.          

The Explorer 300 Plus is incredibly lightweight at just 11 lbs, making it a convenient choice for outdoor adventures such as camping, climbing, or wildlife spotting. The SolarSaga 40W is a compact and portable solar PV that offers versatility for various locations. Its compact design allows easy storage and portability, effortlessly fitting into any bag.  

The Explorer 300 Plus includes a durable LiFePO4 battery with an extended lifespan and a self-developed BMS for enhanced safety. Our advanced technology allows you to enjoy faster charging times and extended battery life. Stay powered and connected, whether in nature or on the move. Thanks to its quick charging options, you can rely on the 300 Plus to fuel your outdoor activities.  

Jackery Solar Generator 300 Plus

Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Plus

The Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Plus is a top choice for portable power stations in its class, thanks to its exceptional output. It can benefit camping, off-road living, home emergencies, and other situations. This solar generator is perfect for all your needs, as it offers versatility and can adjust its capacity as required.   

With the ability to accommodate up to three extra battery packs, its expandable capacity can reach 5kWh, providing a reliable off-grid backup power solution for 1-3 days.

With a solar generator, you can easily power your portable grill, cooler, lighting, and coffee maker, offering a convenient and comfortable experience during camping. Ensure a reliable backup power source keeps your essential devices running smoothly, providing safety and reliability during camping trips.

The Jackery Explorer 1000 Plus portable power station boasts a remarkable 10-year lifespan and is equipped with a reliable Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery. With its ability to deliver a consistent voltage and pure sine wave, you can trust that all your electrical appliances will be kept safe and sound. In addition, the ChargeShield technology and consistent power delivery effectively protect equipment from damage.   

Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Plus

Camping in North Carolina Tips

North Carolina is filled with natural wonders and outdoor activities for an outdoor enthusiast, including spectacular vistas, beautiful beaches, and rough mountains. The many variables that affect camping in North Carolina can be categorized into three categories: legal, safe, and enjoyable.  

Legal refers to matters such as permitted lengths of stay, the lighting of fires, leave-no-trace principles, and other state- or campground-specific laws and norms. Safety and legal considerations can coexist. For example, if you plan to start a fire, ensure it's legal first. Then, ensure the area is safe, contained, and extra debris-free.

Avoid being around harmful animals, bring the proper repellents, and research the region before trekking or camping there. Keep your belongings secure and locked away in your car while camping in your tent with other campers.

There are a lot of existing and established campgrounds and campsites in North Carolina. Make sure you study the rules and regulations of each one before reserving a spot to make sure it's somewhere you want to spend your time. Verify whether the amenities you need are offered.  

Final Thoughts

North Carolina offers some of the country's most varied and stunning terrains, from the barrier islands of the Outer Banks to the rough Appalachian Mountain range. Camping is one of the most significant ways to explore this gorgeous area. The best 10 camping spots in North Carolina and its essentials are listed in this article.

A portable generator is more necessary outside when camping in North Carolina. The Jackery Solar Generator is a cutting-edge power generator that provides a dependable and environmentally responsible power source. You might begin your camping adventure by having a solar generator!

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