National Parks in North Carolina

Carolina Outdoors Guide - Parks & Forests

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North Carolina National Parks

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National parks map North Carolina is home to nine national parks located across the state from the shores of the Outer Banks to the mountains at the Tennessee border, as well as portions of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (see our Hiking page), the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail and the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. The parks offer recreational opportunities ranging from backpacking and primitive camping to snorkeling and windsurfing, home tours and museum exhibits.

Click on the map above for a larger version.

Some federal recreation lands charge access fees as well as activity fees, such as for camping. You can get an annual pass that gets either a single private car and its occupants in or the pass holder plus three adults into places with a per-person charge (younger than 15 are not charged). There are also passes for seniors and the disabled that offer discounts and are good for life, and for park volunteers who volunteer 250 hours on recreation lands managed by one or more of five federal agencies. A free annual pass for active duty military and their dependents became available in 2012.

Note: National Parks websites change frequently. If a link below doesn't work, it should lead to a Park Service page with a search tool. Try a search; the feature we linked to probably still exists.

Blue Ridge ParkwayBlue Ride Parkway Destination Center - Click for More Info
199 Hemphill Knob Road
Asheville, NC 28803-8686
(828) 271-4779
(828) 298-0398 (recorded information)
Locator Map (Parkway Visitor Center at Asheville)
Parkway Map
The most visited site in the National Parks system extends 469 miles through the southern Appalachians of North Carolina and Virginia following the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park (below) are in the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. More people enter or exit the Parkway in Asheville than any other point on the road. Visitors enjoy automobile and bicycle touring, overlooks, bird watching, camping, climbing, cross-country skiing, fishing, hang gliding, hiking, historical and cultural demonstrations, hunting, picnicking and ranger programs. In the North Carolina section, there are five campgrounds, six visitor centers (Click on the photo above for more about the Parkway Destination Center), two lodges and three restaurants.

Some parkway sites close for the winter around the end of October and begin to open in early April. The Parkway's website has a full seasonal schedule.

Portions of the road may be closed at any time because of inclement weather or other problems. Here is an interactive map of Blue Ridge Parkway road closures.

Recreation areas on the parkway in North Carolina include:
- Cumberland Knob - park map. (Milepost 217.5) Includes a visitors center, a large picnic grounds, an open field, and two trails: the 2-mile loop Gully Trail, which crosses a stream and goes by a small waterfall, and the half-mile Cumberland Knob Trail, which includes a view of the namesake peak (elev. 2,885).
- >Doughton Park - park map. (MP 239-245) Includes campground, picnic area, trails, including 7.5 mile Bluff Mountain Trail, overlooks, 19th century cabins.
- E.B. Jeffress Park - (MP 272) Park features one-mile loop Cascades Trail to two waterfall overlooks, log cabin and church, picnic grounds and restrooms. Click on the photo at right for more information.
- Moses Cone Memorial Park - park map. (MP 294-295) Includes historic Cone Manor House with exhibits and gift shop, easy trails and ponds.
- Julian Price Memorial Park - park map. (MP 295-297) Includes Price Lake, campground, picnic area, trails. Click on the photo at left for more information.
- Linville Falls - park map. (MP 317) Includes trails to overlooks of waterfalls and Linville Gorge. Area has a visitor center and campground. Click on the photo at right for more information.
- Crabtree Falls - park map. (MP 339) Includes 70-foot waterfall, trails, campground, gift shop and snack bar.
- Craggy Gardens - park map. (MP 367.6) Includes visitor center, picnic area, trails.
- Mount Pisgah - park map. (MP 408.5) Includes Pisgah Inn, campground, trails.
- Graveyard Fields - (MP 418.8) Overlook has 2.3-mile loop trail that goes to waterfalls in the Pisgah National Forest. A portion of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail accessible here connects to the Shining Rock Wilderness. Blueberries are abundant in the summer. Vault toilet, parking.

Cape Hatteras National SeashoreCape Hatteras Lighthouse - Click for More Info
1401 National Park Drive
Manteo, NC 27954
(252) 473-2111
Locator Map (Rodanthe)
Park Map
Special recreational features of these 70 miles of barrier islands include some of the East Coast's finest fishing and surfing, and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (fee charged to climb). Public ferries run to Ocracoke Island. There are visitor centers on three islands; the park is used for automobile and bicycle touring, bird and wildlife watching, boating, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, kayaking, ranger programs, snorkeling, swimming, windsurfing. Click on the photo for more information.

Cape Lookout National Seashore
131 Charles Street
Harkers Island, NC 28531
(252) 728-2250
Locator Map
Park Map
Three undeveloped barrier islands extend 56 miles along the Southern Outer Banks and feature beaches, dunes, historic Portsmouth Village and Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Bird and wildlife (including wild horses on Shackleford Banks) watching, boating, canoeing, camping (primitive and cabins), fishing, hiking, hunting, kayaking, off-road driving, picnicking, ranger programs (summer), shelling, sunbathing, swimming, windsurfing are available. The visitor center is at end of Harkers Island Road off U.S. 70. The seashore is accessible via a concessions ferry service operating from downtown Beaufort and the visitor center, or by personal boat. The lighthouse is open for climbing Tuesday through Saturday, from the second week in May to the third weekend in September.

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site
81 Carl Sandburg Lane
Flat Rock, NC 28731-8635
(828) 693-4178
Locator Map
Park Map
Trail Map (.pdf)
Connemara was the farm home of the noted poet-author for the last 22 years of his life. There are two lakes, several ponds, gardens, pastures and an apple orchard on the 30-acre site; the front lake trail is partially handicapped-accessible. The site offers a 30-minute guided house tour (adults are charged a fee), bird and wildlife watching, hiking and historic barn with goat herd. Each Memorial Day the site hosts the Carl Sandburg Folk Music Festival and, in June through mid-August, presents live performances of Sandburg's "Rootabaga Stories" and excerpts from the Broadway play, "The World of Carl Sandburg."

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
1401 National Park Drive
Manteo, NC 27954
(252) 473-2111 (headquarters)
(252) 473-5772 (visitor information)
Locator Map
Park Map
The first English settlement in North America was attempted here (1585-87) and the fate of Sir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony remains a mystery. In addition to a visitors center and museum, the park is home to Elizabethan Gardens and, "The Lost Colony" outdoor symphonic drama in summer, and commemoration of Native American culture and Civil War activities, including the Freedman's Colony. Bird and wildlife watching, nature trails and ranger programs are also available.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Click for More Info Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(865) 436-1200 (recorded message)
Locator Map
Park Map
Encompassing portions of North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park features a diversified plant and animal life, and preserves structures representing southern Appalachian mountain culture. There are six visitors centers, two grist mills, and opportunities for automobile and bicycle touring, backpacking, bird and wildlife watching, camping, fishing, hiking on more than 800 miles of trails, horseback riding, picnicking and ranger programs. The park has a dozen waterfalls. Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park (elev. 6,643 feet), has an observation tower and is accessible from Clingmans Dome Road off of U.S. 441 at Newfound Gap. Clingmans Dome Road is closed in winter. Click on the photo for more information.

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park
2332 New Garden Road
Greensboro, NC 27410-2355
(336) 288-1776
Locator Map
Park Map
The battle fought here on March 15, 1781, was the largest action of the Revolutionary War's climactic Southern Campaign. In addition to a visitors center, the park has 28 monuments, including a memorial to North Carolina's three signers of the Declaration of Independence, walking trails, automobile and bicycle tour road, and living history programs on Independence Day, Memorial Day and other times.

Moores Creek National Battlefield
40 Patriots Hall Drive
Currie, NC 28435
(910) 283-5591
Locator Map
Park Map
The park commemorates the February 27, 1776, Battle of Moores Creek Bridge, the first decisive Patriot victory of the Revolutionary War and the end of British authority in the North Carolina colony. The park offers a visitors center, picnic area, museum and a walking trail with historic markers, memorials and the historic bridge. The annual battle commemoration the last full weekend of February features a living history encampment, tactical demonstrations and more.

Wtright Brothers National Memorial - Click for More InfoWright Brothers National Memorial
1401 National Park Drive
Manteo, NC 27954
(252) 473-2111 (headquarters)
(252) 441-7430 (visitor information)
Locator Map
Park Map
The first successful sustained powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine were made here at Kitty Hawk by Wilbur and Orville Wright on December 17, 1903. Inside the visitors center are replicas of the Wrights' gliders and other exhibits, and another pavilion has exhibits and a film; outside are the 60-foot-tall granite Wright Memorial atop a 90-foot dune, reconstructed camp buildings, and markers showing where the flyer touched down along the original flight path. Click on the photo for more information.

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