Best Camping in North Carolina: Top 10 Places to Go

In addition to approximately 40 peaks over 6,000 feet and over 320 miles of coastline, North Carolina is home to Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains, and the enormously well-liked Chimney Rock State Park. North Carolina is home to a large number of stunning campgrounds. You'll find serene salt marshes, freshwater lakes, meandering rivers, wild rhododendron blooming with color, gushing waterfalls, and limitless options to pitch your camper amid them between the sea and the mountains.

best camping in north carolina

North Carolina has the most fantastic camping for you, whether you pitch a tent in the mountains or by the sea, paddle to your campground or drive there, rough it, or be pampered in a glamping experience you won't forget. 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, you can find some essentials and recommendations for the best camping in North Carolina.  

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. There are camping close to big cities and ones nestled away in the bush that require a strenuous journey.

camping in North Carolina

North Carolina is known for its stunning natural scenery, friendly people, and distinctive biodiversity. This exceptional state is a true haven for outdoor adventure, from tranquil salt marshes and gushing waterfalls to the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains. Although there are many excellent possibilities, we've chosen the top ten camping spots in North Carolina.

1. Hanging Rock State Park

Camping in North Carolina 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

Activities: Camping, hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, horse riding, bird-watching

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. Intriguing geological features and breathtaking views of sweeping mountains may be found throughout Hanging Rock State Park. 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. A chunk is a part of the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail, and some are accessible for mountain biking and horseback riding. Hike the park's paths to let nature let you reflect on life's fast-paced pace. 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

Camping in North Carolina 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

Activities: Hiking, camping, picnicking, birding, biking

The first state park in North Carolina was established at Mount Mitchell State Park, situated 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 and lead 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, which is situated in the Black Mountain range of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina. Just 35 miles northeast of downtown Asheville, near Mount Mitchell State Park, the peak can be found off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The summit is almost entirely accessible by car, making it simple to explore this natural marvel. 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. Food must be hung at least 150 feet from your tent.

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

Activities: Camping, hiking, biking, birding, fishing, horse riding, picnicking

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

The Tennessee-North Carolina border runs the length of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park region. Between the two visitor centers, Sugarlands and Oconaluftee, separated by miles of deciduous woodland, lies a mirror image of the other. Waterfalls can be found across the park, and the more significant falls like Grotto, Laurel, Abrams, Rainbow, and Mingo attract more than 200,000 tourists annually. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America's most famous national park, is a great escape. Experience one of America's oldest mountain ranges by hiking and camping there. In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, nine campgrounds are great for returning to nature. 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. So many trails, and there is something for all ages and abilities. We especially love the winter months when the forest turns into a winter 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

Activities: Hiking, camping, birding, geocaching, biking

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. Through Nantahala, hundreds of miles of hiking routes crisscross. Regardless of your hiking experience, it's a fantastic area to appreciate the tranquility and beauty of nature. Located off of US Highway 64 between Highlands and Cashiers, Whiteside Mountain is a well-liked hiking trail. 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 in the Nantahala District in Franklin, NC, on the Siler Bald via the Appalachian Trail.”

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

Activities: Camping, hiking, biking, climbing, fishing, boating

Mount Rainier, which rises to a height of 14,410 feet above sea level, is a prominent feature of the Washington landscape. Mount Rainier, an active volcano, is the most glaciated summit in the contiguous United States and the source of five significant rivers. The freezing volcano is surrounded by subalpine wildflower meadows, while Mount Rainier's lower slopes are covered in ancient forest. In the habitats of the park, wildlife is abundant. A lifetime of learning is in store. Every year, around two million people visit Mount Rainier National Park to do hiking, mountain climbing, backpacking, and other activities. A visit to Mount Rainier is a necessity for every travel to Washington State.

This spring, take a stroll through a temperate inland rainforest. This summer, go on a hike through the wildflowers and see the mighty waterfalls. Each autumn, marvel at the changing colors. Each winter, experience thrilling skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. And fall head over heels for the breathtaking views that redefine stunning all year round. Escape from the monotony of everyday life by packing the tent or hooking up the RV. Sit around a bonfire in a clear sky, take in the stars, and take in the nighttime sounds. There are several of camping choices in the Mt. Rainier area. Within its limits, Mount Rainier National Park manages four campgrounds. Access to portions of the park with names like Paradise and Sunrise is provided by these campgrounds, which include 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

Camping in North 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

Activities: Swimming, camping, fishing, boating, water playing, hiking, biking

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. A depression was left behind after the ice melted, and water started to fill it up over time. The White Mountain region's best swimming may be found 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. Twelve of the spots are for tents alone.  

“Stopped for a walk around the lake. Pretty views and a nice beach area. Nice playground for the little ones too.”

7. Jones Lake State Park

Camping in North Carolina 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

Activities: Camping, hiking, picnicking, paddling, swimming, fishing

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 and 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.

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 and 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. A good place to swim and kayak. The staff is friendly and helpful. Enjoyed stay.”

8. Cape Lookout National Seashore

Camping in North Carolina 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

Activities: Fishing, swimming, camping, birding, boating, windsurfing, kayaking, shelling

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.

You may reach the barrier islands of Cape Lookout National Seashore by boat three miles offshore. 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). You may access the beaches for additional exploration after taking a short ferry journey or take your boat into the nearby waters for world-class fishing. The availability of campsites further enhances the quiet appeal of this natural beauty. Beach camping is allowed. Sea, beach, sun, spectacular sunsets, and ominous skies. Activities include swimming, surfing, fishing, clamming, crab-catching, and nightly campfires.  

“Beautiful island! We took the ferry over, which was a short ride. 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.”

9. Lake James State Park

Camping in North Carolina 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

Activities: Hiking, camping, biking, boating, fishing, swimming, paddling

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. For our benefit, the Blue Ridge Mountains' Lake James State Park, a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, is expanding daily. The environment is dominated by steep, forested ridges covered in hardwoods, pines, and hemlocks. Pink lady slipper, Jack-in-the-pulpit, passion flower, Indian pipe, and cardinal flower are common wildflowers in the park. In the mountainous terrain, mountain laurels, rhododendron, and flaming azalea are abundant. 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, which is 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 Fonta Flora State Trail, the kid-friendly Holly Discovery Trail, the historic Overmountain Victory Trail, and the biking paths near Paddy's Creek are just a few of the trails. Thirty campsites can be reached by paddling along the park's Long Arm peninsula, which is a mile from the shore. The campgrounds that accept reservations exclusively are equipped with 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. 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

Camping in North Carolina-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

Activities: Hiking, camping, biking, paddling, fishing, picnicking

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 is well-known for ecosystems including Sugarloaf Dune, a 50-foot dune that formerly served as a river pilot's navigational point, and three limesink ponds that each have a distinctive plant population. The park's marina provides access to the Cape Fear River and the Intracoastal Waterway, making the area attractive for boaters and anglers.

This well-liked 761-acre park has a visitor center, a marina, and a fuel dock that provides access to some of North Carolina's top fishing sites. There is an accessible fishing deck at the marina. Explore 8.5 miles of hiking on 9 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! 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, trails, close to the beach, and easy access to the Marina.”

Camping in North Carolina Essentials

It takes a lot of work, but camping is worth it. 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 a lot more gear if you park your car directly next to your tent. Additionally, most campgrounds include incredible amenities like fire pits, picnic tables, electrical hookups, water fixtures, and restrooms! We often pack a list of camping must-haves for the best camping in North Carolina.

- Portable Power Generator: Jackery Solar Generator 1500, Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Pro

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

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

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

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

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

>> Download Camping Essentials Checklist PDF

A portable solar generator is a necessary tool to pack when camping in Georgia. 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 portable solar generator can keep your electronic devices running for hours or even days.

jackery solar generator for camping in North Carolina

The Jackery Solar Generator 1500 is a fantastic option for camping, fishing, or other outdoor excursions. Solar Generator 1500 comes with 3 bundles, including Explorer 1500 plus 4* SolarSaga 100W, Explorer 1500 with 2* SolarSaga 100W, and Explorer 1500 with 1 SolarSaga 100W. The bundle is ideal whether you're camping for a weekend or extended time. The Explorer 1500 has a sizable 1534Wh capacity and 1800 operating watts (3600 peak watts). It also has 3 AC Pure Sine Wave outlets, 1 PD 60W USB-C port, 1 Quick Charge 3.0 port, 1 USB-A port, and one 12V carport. It can run up to 85% of the equipment in your RV, including microwaves, refrigerators, lights, power tools, household appliances, and other major power users.

Another option is the Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Pro if you're outside. Because it features an updated solar panel and battery, it is perfect for people who seek the best solar generator. A full charge may be completed in 1.8 hours thanks to four revolutionary SolarSaga 200W solar panels, three times faster than Solar Generator 1000. With a quick and straightforward 60-second setup, you can enjoy infinite green power wherever you go. An entire wall charge may be completed in approximately 1.8 hours. Its USB-C and 100W PD ports provide dependable power for requirements like phones, iPad, PCs, and drones. It has many interfaces, including a DC vehicle port, two USB A ports, and three 1000W AC output connectors.



Capability (wh)

Input & Output Ports



Jackery Solar Generator 1500

Explorer 1500 + SolarSaga 100W


3*AC Pure Sine Wave AC outlets, 1*PD 60W USB-C Port, 1*Quick Charge 3.0 Port, 1*USB-A Port, 1*12V car port

14"L x 10.4"W x 12.7"H

Mini Cooler(60W) 21H, Ice Shaver (700W) 120Mins, Toaster(650W) 130Mins, Microwave Oven(1000W) 68Mins, Electrical Grill(900W) 75Mins, Blender(500W) 130Mins, Coffee Maker(500W) 130Mins, Pressure Cooker(1000W) 90Mins

Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Pro

Explorer 1000 Pro + SolarSaga 80W/200W


2* USB-C, 2* 100W PD ports, 3* 1000W AC output ports, 2* USB A, 1* DC car port

12.5"L x 6.1"W x 9.2"H

Refrigerator(520W) 1.6H, CPAP(10W) 80Times, Coffee Maker(550W) 1.5H, Microwave Oven(700W) 1.2H, TV(60W) 13H, Tower Fan(45W) 17H, Laptop(65W) 9Times, Electric Blanket(55W) 14H, Kettle(850W) 1H

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. The best advice about camping in North Carolina is provided below:  

  • Legal refers to matters such as permitted lengths of stay, the lighting of fires, leave no trace principles, and another state- or campground-specific laws and norms. Safety and legal considerations can coexist. For example, if you're planning to start a fire, make sure it's legal first. Then, ensure the area is safe, free of extra debris, and as contained as possible.
  • Avoid being around harmful animals if you can, bring the proper repellents, and research the region before trek or camping there. Keep your belongings secure and locked away in your car while camping in your tent at a campsite where there are 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. For your camping excursions, North Carolina includes 41 state parks, ten national park locations, and four national forests, all of which offer a variety of outdoor activities. The best camping in North Carolina and its essentials are listed in this article.

North Carolina is the ideal state for camping since there is so much open area to enjoy. A portable generator is more necessary outside when camping in North Carolina. For your camping trip in Utah, the Jackery portable solar generator is a cutting-edge power bank that provides a dependable and environmentally responsible power source. You might begin your camping adventure by having a solar generator!

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