The partial federal government shutdown might force travelers to adjust their plans, but North Carolina offers a wealth of places for winter camping, experiencing nature and exploring history. Here are the federal sites impacted by the government shutdown and alternatives that remain open:

Campgrounds

Find a campground at a North Carolina State Park here. From the Reserve America homepage, you can launch a search by location to find private campgrounds, as well.

Blue Ridge Parkway

According to the last update of the real-time conditions map, many sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway were closed because of weather conditions. Along sections that remain passable, federal visitor centers, comfort stations and other attractions staffed by the National Park Service are closed.

State parks along the parkway – including Stone Mountain and Mount Mitchell – are not affected by the shutdown. Chimney Rock and Grandfather Mountain, signature off-the-Parkway attractions, are open as weather permits. Check the website for information about weather-related closures.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Park facilities are closed, though scenic U.S. 441 is open to traffic. Outdoor experiences in the Smokies and nearby ranges can be found through travel bureaus such as greatsmokies.com (Bryson City), visitncsmokies.com (Haywood County), discoverjacksonnc.com (Jackson County) and grahamcountytravel.com (Graham County).

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

The shutdown resulted in closures of all Cape Hatteras National Seashore visitor centers and many services, but the beaches remain open to the public. See here for more details on what is open and available. The Cape Hatteras and Bodie Island lighthouses had closed for the season before the shutdown. Find lists of private marinas at outerbanks.org and visitcurrituck.com, and a map of public access points maintained by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is here.

Cape Lookout National Seashore

Island Express Ferry Service, the seashore's official concessionaire, is unaffected by the shutdown. Transportation to Shackleford Banks, home of a herd of wild ponies, and the Cape Lookout Lighthouse area is available unless the weather dictates otherwise. Note that the lighthouse had closed for the season before the shutdown.

Appalachian Trail

All sections of the trail are accessible, though services provided by the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service are unavailable. Find details from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy here.

Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail

Most sites on the hiking and driving trail are accessible unless conditions force closure.

National Forests

Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, Pisgah's Cradle of Forestry, and other facilities staffed by the U.S. Forest Service are closed, but roads through the vast mountain forestlands remain open.

In the southern mountains, hikers and mountain bikers might opt for Gorges State Park or DuPont State Recreational Forest, and outfitters can help adventurers with Nantahala Gorge excursions. In northern Pisgah Forest, state parks and natural areas  including Elk KnobGrandfather Mountain and Mount Mitchell  are open unless weather conditions force a closure. Check websites for current information.

Uwharrie National Forest remains accessible, though facilities staffed by the U.S. Forest Service are closed at the 51,000-acre tract atop the ancient Uwharrie Mountains in central North Carolina. Morrow Mountain State Park affords land, lake and river recreation, and the North Carolina Zoo sits on the opposite side of the forest.

At coastal Croatan National Forest, facilities staffed by the U.S Forest Service are closed, though roads remain open. As an alternative to this forest of longleaf pine, evergreen-shrub bogs and wetlands, Goose Creek State Park in Washington provides a similar backdrop and recreation options.

National historic sites

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock is closed. For a literary fix, Asheville is home to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, the rambling Victorian boarding house known as Dixieland in "Look Homeward, Angel."

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park is closed, though access is possible through the adjacent Greensboro Country Park. Moores Creek National Battlefield, whose entrance is gated, is closed. For a pre-Revolutionary War battlefield experience, the Alamance Battleground State Historic Site in Burlington interprets events from 1771.

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site site is closed, though the lovely Elizabethan Gardens remains open. In the heart of Manteo, Roanoke Island Festival Park examines the history of America's first English settlers with a representative 16th-century sailing ship, an American Indian Town, a settlement site and a museum.

Wright Brothers National Memorialis closed, but visitors can connect with the namesake aviators' airborne adventure at Jockey's Ridge State Park. Hang gliding and kite flying are among the available activities, and Kitty Hawk Kites offers a soaring experience on a replica of the 1902 Wright Brothers glider.

Wildlife refuges

The 11 federal wildlife refuges in North Carolina are all closed. State parks and properties within the North Carolina Coastal Reserve provide another way to experience many of the species protected on the federal sites. Here's a general geographic rundown:

  • The Outer Banks (Alligator River, Currituck, Mackay Island and Pea Island wildlife refuges) is home to Currituck Banks Estuarine Research Reserve, Kitty Hawk Woods and Buxton Woods.
  • The Central Coast (Cedar Island and Swan Quarter wildlife refuges) is home to the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve and Hammocks Beach State Park.
  • Inner coast (Mattamuskeet, Pocosin Lakes, Roanoke River and Great Dismal Swamp wildlife refuges) is home to Dismal Swamp State Park and the Emily and Richard Preyer Buckridge Coastal Reserve.
  • In the Piedmont, the Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge is near Morrow Mountain State Park.