Find Classic Camping at North Carolina National Parks

Find Classic Camping at North Carolina National Parks

Hike the Appalachian Trail, then pick your favorite spot to set up camp, such as Grassy Ridge Bald on Roan Mountain

If you’re looking for a camping trip that will carry some cache with the folks back home, these experiences at national parks in North Carolina will give you bragging rights and memories that will stick long after you’ve broken camp.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has seven group campgrounds, each offering a markedly different escape. Cataloochee, for instance, is in a secluded valley where remnants of a once-thriving mountain community remain (as do a herd of elk reintroduced in 2001). Deep Creek near Bryson City is a tuber’s paradise. Smokemont on the Oconaluftee River is known for trout fishing and swimming. If you’re looking for something more removed, the remote Balsam Mountain Campground is the park’s highest, at 5,400 feet, guaranteeing cool sleeping even in August.

Mingus Mill at Great Smoky Mountains

While camping at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can visit historic sites such as Mingus Mill

The Blue Ridge Parkway offers one of the most scenic drives in the country. Thanks to five campgrounds along its North Carolina run, motoring tourists never have to leave the scenic highway. Each stop offers not only rest from the road, but good adventure as well. At Doughton Park, explore the 30-mile trail network (the largest along the parkway); Price Park offers a beginner-friendly hike around its namesake lake; Linville Falls is at the headwaters of Linville Gorge, one of the wildest spots in the East; Crabtree Falls offers solitude and a short hike to its namesake falls; and Mount Pisgah sits atop the Blue Ridge, offering long-sleeve hiking even in summer.

Hiker at Linville Gorge sunrise

Awaken from your campsite, then hike to Linville Gorge and watch the sunrise

Like the beach experience but not the beach crowds? The four campgrounds on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore – Oregon Inlet, Cape Point, Frisco and Ocracoke – offer access to long stretches of beach that are particularly compelling at night, when the stars come out and dazzle a sky nearly clear of light pollution. All of the Cape Hatteras campgrounds are located on the ocean side separated from the beach by barrier dunes. The campgrounds have tent, trailer and motor home sites, with modern restrooms, potable water and grills, and are open from April through November.

Discover great campsites – from primitive to urban – at our state parks.

Joe Miller is the author of Adventure Carolinas and other guidebooks, and writes about health, fitness and adventure at GetGoingNC.com.

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