Camping in National Forests in North Carolina

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National Forests mapThe National Forests in North Carolina allow tent and RV camping in developed family campgrounds, undeveloped campgrounds and often in wilderness areas without designated sites. It is advisable to check the suitability of a campground for an RV. The Nantahala and Uwharrie have horse camps; the Pisgah has a group horse camp.

Seasons vary among campgrounds and year to year at individual campgrounds; early or late in the year it's good to check the website through the link provided. Some mountain campgrounds close when it is too cold to offer running water, but some remain accessible all year.

Group campgrounds are designed for organized groups of 25 to 100 people per site. Some are fully developed, while others are simply large grassy fields with chemical toilets.

Some campgrounds and all group camps require reservations and minimum stays. (* below means operated by private concessionaire.) Where charges apply, prices range from a few dollars a day to $40 or more for RV sites with electricity or about $100 for some group sites. There's also a $9 service fee for reservations. (Here's some help if you're budgeting your travel.)

Phone (877) 444-6777, or visit www.Recreation.gov, which has reservation information for federal recreation sites nationwide. (It is incomplete though; Carolina Outdoors Guide has many North Carolina sites that recreation.gov doesn't.)

Fred and Suzi Dow's U.S. National Forest Campground Guide, which is linked here to the North Carolina list, has in-depth information about national forest camping at family-style campgrounds.

Croatan National Forest (Forest Map)

All campgrounds except Neuse River are open all year. Phone (252) 638-5628 for more information about all Croatan campgrounds and other facilities.
- Catfish Lake. From Maysville take N.C. 58 east to the Jones/Craven County border. (Locator Map). Boat ramp with undesignated camping sites, fishing, canoeing. No fee.
- Cedar Point. 1 mile north of N.C. 58/24 near Cape Carteret (Locator Map). 40 sites with electricity, handicapped-accessible campground: flush toilets, showers, drinking water, picnic tables, dump station, boat ramp, fishing pier, interpretive trails. $15 (to be $20 in 2016), $22 with electricity ($27 in 2016); double sites $30 (to be $40 in 2106), $40 with electricity (to be $54 in 2016). Reservations online and at number above. Click on the photo at right for more info.
- Dixon Field Landing, near Maysville (Maysville Locator Map). The low-impact canoe launch allows dispersed primitive, camping. No fee.
 - Fisher's Landing. 8 miles south of New Bern off U.S. 70 (Locator Map). Nine sites, tents only: vault toilets (handicapped accessible), drinking water, fire rings, picnic tables, fishing, swimming. No fee. Click on the photo at left for more info.
 - Great Lake. From Maysville take N.C. 58 east (Locator Map). Boat ramp (handicapped accessible) with undesignated camping sites, vault toilets (handicapped accessible), fishing, canoeing. No fee.
- Long Point. From Maysville take N.C. 58 east; on the White Oak River (Maysville Locator Map). Boat ramp with undesignated camping sites, vault toilets (handicapped accessible), picnic tables (handicapped accessible), pier (handicapped accessible), canoeing. $5.
- Neuse River (aka Flanners Beach). About 15 miles east of New Bern off U.S. 70 on Flanners Beach Road (Locator Map). 45 sites, 14 with electricity, handicapped-accessible campground: flush toilets, showers, drinking water, picnic tables, dump station, fishing, swimming, hiking, mountain biking. $12, $17 with electricity. Open March 1 to December 1. Reservations online and at number above. Click on the photo for more info.
- Oyster Point. From Newport take S.R. 1154 (Newport Locator Map). 15 sites: vault toilets, drinking water, boat ramp, fishing, canoeing, Neusiok Trail trailhead. $8.
- Siddie Fields. Near Havelock and Pine Cliff Picnic Area off N.C. 101 and Ferry Road. (Locator Map). Undesignated sites at canoe/kayak launch. Fishing, canoeing, beach access (no swimming). No fee.

See our National Forest Hiking page for additional camping in the Croatan National Forest.

Nantahala National Forest (Forest Map, includes Pisgah)

- Ammons Branch. About 4.5 miles east of Highlands off Main Street onto Bull Pen Road (Locator Map). Four backpacking sites. Vault toilets, trails, fishing. No water. All year. No fee. (828)-524-6441.
- Appletree Group Camp. Near Topton. (Locator Map) Two sites for up to 25 people, two sites for up to 50: handicapped accessible, flush toilets, showers, drinking water, fire rings, shelters, trails, fishing. April 1-October 31. $50 to $100. (828) 524-6441.
- Balsam Lake Lodge From N.C. 215 south in Tuckasegee, take SR 1756 (Charley's Creek Road) 5 miles to the lodge (Locator Map). Lodge amenities include: 16 twin beds (some bunks) complete with linens, blankets, pillows; fully applianced wheelchair-accessible kitchen with all utensils; outside grills; three bathrooms and one roll-in wheelchair shower; wood for fireplace; gas heat; phone for local or credit calls. $170, $200 Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Maximum of 20 people. Reservations online and (877) 444-6777. Click on the photo for our look at the day use area adjacent to the lodge.
- Blue Valley. From Highlands take N.C. 28 south 5.5 miles and turn right (Locator Map). 22 backpacking sites. Vault toilets, trails, fishing. No water. All year. No fee. (828) 524-6441.
- Bristol Fields Horse Camp. From Hayesville take S.R. 1307 for 3 miles to S.R. 1300, then 5.7 miles to S.R. 1344 and follow signs; on Fires Creek (Hayesville Locator Map). 8 single sites, 1 double site. Vault toilets, fishing, bridle trails, trails. All year. $5. (828) 479-6431.
- Cable Cove. From Fontana Village take N.C. 28 east 4.7 miles and turn left on FR 520 for 1.4 miles (Locator Map). 26 sites. Vault toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, boating ramp, trails, fishing. April 1-October 31. $10. (828) 479-6431.
- Cheoah Point. From Robbinsville take U.S. 129 north; on Santeetlah Lake (Locator Map). 26 sites, two with electricity; two cabins with outdoor electrical hookups. Flush toilets, showers, drinking water, picnic tables, boat ramp, swimming, trails, fishing. April 1-October 31. $15, $20 with electricity. Reservations online and (877) 444-6777. Cabin one, Cabin two $35. (828) 479-6431.
- Hanging Dog. From Murphy take N.C. 1326 west for 5 miles; on Hiwassee Reservoir (Locator Map). 68 sites. Flush toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, fishing, trails, mountain bike trails, dump station. May 1-September 30. $8 (828) 837-5152.
- Horse Cove. From Robbinsville take U.S. 129 north (Locator Map). 18 sites on Little Santeetlah Creek. Vault toilets, drinking water, fishing, trails. No water in winter. April 15-October 31; 5 sites all year. $10, $5 in winter. (828) 479-6431.
- Hurricane Creek Horse & Primitive. Two miles south of Standing Indian (below) on FR 67. 5 sites with horse stalls, undesignated sites. Vault toilets (handicapped accessible), picnic tables, fire rings, fishing, trails, bridle trails. No water. March 15-January 1, depending on weather. $6. (828) 524-6441.
- Jackrabbit Mountain. Take U.S. 64 east from Hayesville for 6.2 miles, turn left on N.C. 175 for 3 miles then right on SR 1115; on Chatuge Reservoir. (Locator Map). 100 sites: flush toilets (handicapped accessible), showers (handicapped accessible), drinking water, picnic tables, dump station, boating access area, fishing, swimming, trails. May-October 31. Reservations available. $15. (828) 837-5152.
- Kimsey Creek Group Camp. Southwest of Franklin on Nantahala River (Near Standing Indian, below.) Three sites for 10 to 25 each (limited RV use): vault toilets, drinking water, fishing, trails. April-November 30. $50. Reservations available through Standing Indian, below. (828) 524-6441.
- Rattler Ford Group Camp. Near Robbinsville on Santeetlah Creek (Locator Map). Located ¼ mile south of the entrance to Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Four sites for 25 each: flush toilets, showers, drinking water, fishing, trails. April through October. Reservations required at (877) 444-6777. $50. (828) 479-6431.
- Standing Indian. From Franklin take U.S. 64 west to W. Old Murphy Road and Forest Development Road 67; on Nantahala River (Locator Map). 84 sites: flush toilets, showers, drinking water, picnic tables, fishing, trails. April-November 30. Some reservations are available. $16.* (828) 524-6441.
- Swan Cabin. North from Robbinsville on U.S. 129 and west on N.C. 143 then N.C. 1134; near the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness (Wilderness Locator Map). Cabin has three rooms and a loft, and a wood stove. Three double bunk frames, two single bed frames, and one double bed frame are strung with rope to accommodate sleeping bags; sleeps nine total. Privy, trails, stream nearby. April 1-December 31. Reservations required. $25. (828) 479-6431.
- Tsali Recreation Area. From Bryson City take U.S. 19 south, N.C. 28 west near Almond; on Fontana Lake (Locator Map). 42 sites: flush toilets (handicapped accessible), showers (handicapped accessible), drinking water, picnic tables, boating access area, fishing, trails, bridle trails, mountain biking. No water in winter. April 15-October 31. $15. (828) 479-6431.
- Van Hook Glade. From Highlands take U.S. 64 west (Locator Map). 19 sites: flush toilets (handicapped accessible), drinking water and trails. Cliffside Lake day-use area, which has showers, swimming and picnicking, is adjacent. Reservations, minimum stay required. April-October 31. $16.* (828) 526-3765.

See our National Forest Hiking page for additional camping in the Nantahala National Forest.

Pisgah National Forest (Forest Map, includes Nantahalah)

Pisgah Forest Camping - Click for More Info - Black Mountain. From Burnsville take U.S. 19 east to N.C. 80 south then FR 472; on South Toe River just below Mount Mitchell (Locator Map). 43 sites: showers (handicapped accesible), flush toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, dump station, hiking and horseback trails, fishing. Mid-April-October 31. $19.* (828) 675-5616. Click the photo for info about a short camping trip near Mount Mitchell. (See also Briar Bottom Group Camp below.)
- Boone Fork. From Lenoir take N.C. 90 west to Mulberry Creek Road then Boone Fork Park Road (Locator Map). 14 sites: vault toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, fishing, trails, mountain biking. Memorial Day-Labor Day. $3. (828) 652-2144.
- Briar Bottom Group Camp. (Adjacent to Black Mountain Campground, above.) Tents only. Six sites; up to 50 people, 10 vehicles each: vault toilets, drinking water, swimming, fishing, mountain biking, trails. Reservations required. Mid-April-October 31. $50-$100.* (828) 675-5616.
- Carolina Hemlocks. From Burnsville take U.S. 19 east, N.C. 80 south (Locator Map). 36 sites: showers, flush toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, fishing, trails. April 14-October 31. Reservations available. $19.* (828) 682-6146.
- Cove Creek. West of Brevard off N.C. 215 north (Locator Map). Upper and Lower campgrounds with one site at each camp; up to 100 people, 15 vehicles: vault toilets, water pump, picnic tables, fishing, mountain biking, trails. There are two creek crossings to Upper Cove Creek. During heavy rains, the creek will rise and may temporarily make crossing impossible. Reservations required: Lower Group Camp & Upper Group Camp or at (877) 444-6777; minimum stay. All year. $95. (828) 862-5960.
- Curtis Creek. From Old Fort take U.S. 70 east to Curtis Creek Road (Locator Map). 14 sites with fees, and 13 dispersed primitive sites. Vault toilets, picnic tables, fishing, trails. April 1-November 30. $5. (828) 652-2144.
Davidson River camping - Click for More Info - Davidson River. From Brevard take U.S. 64 east, U.S. 276 north (Locator Map). 161 sites: flush toilets (handicapped accessible), showers, drinking water, dump station, fishing, trails. Reservations and minimum stay required. $20, $21 riverside.* (828) 862-5960. Click on the photo for more info. (See also Kuykendall Group Camp and White Pines Group Camp below.)
- Harmon Den Horse Camp. Near Hot Springs. Take I-40 exit 7 (Harmon Den) northeast onto Cold Springs Road (FR 148) to FR 3526 (Locator Map). Ten sites for 8 people and 4 horses per site: vault toilets, drinking water, bridle trails, fishing, trails. May through October. Reservations required available at (877) 444-6777. $15. (828) 622-3202.
- Kuykendall Group Camp. Near Brevard, adjacent to Davidson River Campground above (Locator Map). One site; up to 100 people, 15 vehicles: vault toilet, water pump, fishing. You must drive through stream to get to campground. Reservations and minimum stay required; available at (877) 444-6777. All year. $95. (828) 862-5960.
- Lake Powhatan. From I-26 Exit 33 take N.C. 191 south; on Lake Powhatan and Bent Creek (Locator Map). 98 sites (three with hookups): flush toilets (handicapped accessible), showers (handicapped accessible), drinking water, picnic tables, dump station, fishing (handicapped accessible), swimming (lifeguard), trails, bike trails. Reservations and minimum stay required. $20.* (828) 667-0391.
- Linville Gorge Wilderness. From Morganton take N.C. 181 north (Locator Map). Undesignated sites, no facilities in rugged backcountry on Linville River. Opportunities for hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, fishing and hunting. Free permits are required for camping weekends and holidays May 1-October 31; no permit required other times or for day use. Group size cannot exceed 10. (828) 652-4841.
- Mortimer. From Colletsville, west of Lenoir, take N.C. 90 west; next to Thorpe Creek (Locator Map). 11 sites: flush toilets (handicapped accessible), showers (handicapped accessible), drinking water, picnic tables, fishing, trails. (The Forest Service closed 11 campsites in April 2012 because of repeated flooding.) No water in winter. April 1-November 30. $10. (828) 652-2144.
- North Mills River. Near Mills River, N.C. 280 west to North Mills River Road. (Locator Map). 31 sites: flush and vault toilets (vault in winter), drinking water, picnic table, dump station, fishing, trails. No water in winter. All year. Reservations available. $13*, $16 riverside. (828) 890-3284.
- Rocky Bluff. From Hot Springs take N.C. 209 south about 3 miles; on Spring Creek (Locator Map). 30 sites: flush toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, fishing, trails. May 1-October 31. $8. (828) 622-3202.
- Silvermine Group Campground. Near Hot Springs. (Locator Map). One site for up to 50: vault toilet, drinking water, trails, including Appalachian Trail. May 1-October 31. Reservations required. $25 up to 25 people; $50 for 26 to 50 people. (828) 622-3202.
- Sunburst. From Waynesville take U.S. 276 east, then N.C. 215 south 8 miles (Locator Map). 10 sites: flush toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, fishing, trails. April 1-October 31. $10. (828) 648-7841.
- White Pines Group Camps. Near Brevard, adjacent to Davidson River Campground above (Locator Map). Two walk-in sites for up to 25 people each: vault toilets, water pump, hiking, fishing. Reservations required for North & South camps, with minimum stay;(877) 444-6777. All year. $50. (828) 862-5960.

See our National Forest Hiking page for additional camping in the Pisgah National Forest.

Uwharrie National Forest (Forest Map)

Five developed campgrounds are part of the Badin Lake Recreation Area, where the Badin Lake Hiking Trail circles Badin Lake and there are several day use areas. Elsewhere, there are three hunt camps and an undeveloped site for mountain bikers at Wood Run, and primitive camping is allowed in the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness, a 5,160-acre area with 10 miles of trails at the northern end of the Uwharrie Mountains.

Campgrounds are open all year unless otherwise noted. The family campgrounds and group camps can be reserved online (individual links below), and reservations are strongly recommended. Phone (910) 576-6391.
- Arrowhead Campground. 50 sites; 33 with electricity: flush toilets (handicapped accessible), showers (handicapped accessible), drinking water, boat ramp, dump station, paved loop trail (in addition to longer trail). Open year-round. $15 (to be $18 in 2106), $20 with electricity (to be $23 in 2016); $30 double site (to be $36 in 2016), $35 double with electricity (to be $37 in 2016). Reservations online or at (877) 444-6777.
- Art Lilley Campground. Dispersed primitive camping for tents and RVs among the Badin Lake OHV Trails Complex. Undesignated sites. No fee, but a trail pass is required. Open April 1 to December 15.
- Badin Lake Campground. 34 sites, many on lake shore: flush toilets (handicapped accessible), showers (handicapped accessible), drinking water, fishing, swimming, trails. $12/$24 double sites. Reservations online or at (877) 444-6777.
- Badin Lake Group Camp. Three sites for up to 50 people each, 10 vehicles: vault toilets, showers, drinking water. $40. Reservations are required and available online or at (877) 444-6777.
- Badin Lake Horse Camp. Undesignated sites with access to 15 bridle tails. No fee. (910) 576-6391.
- Canebrake Horse Camp. 28 sites; four doubles, fully accessible facilities: Horse washing rack, flush and vault toilets, showers, drinking water, dump station, picnic tables, grills, lantern posts, hitching posts, access to 25 bridle trails (32 miles). $15 (to be $18 in 2106), $20 with electricity (to be $23 in 2016); $30 double site (to be $36 in 2016), $35 double with electricity (to be $37 in 2016). Reservations online and at (877) 444-6777.

Hunt Camps
- Uwharrie Hunt Camp. Eight sites: water, vault toilets, table, grill, lantern posts, tent pad. $5.
- West Morris. 14 individual sites, two group sites: vault toilets, table, grill, lantern post, tent pad. $5.
- Yates Place. Undesignated sites: vault toilets, trails. No water. No fee.

- Wood Run Camp Small open field 1.4 miles from the trailhead on Wood Run Mountain Bike Trails (see link), which is on NC 24/27 between Albemarle and Troy, two miles east of the bridges over Lake Tillery/Pee Dee River. Vault toilet. No fee.

See our National Forest Hiking page for additional camping in the Uwharrie National Forest.




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