From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Outer Banks, your adventure is waiting.
Crank up the fiddle-and-banjo tunes while driving through the High Country, where campsites and high-altitude views along the Blue Ridge Parkway are marked by mists and mountains. The parkway rolls up to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, not far from the gorgeous homelands of the Cherokee tribe. Just east in Asheville, the Ale Trail rivals the Biltmore as the top draw, though live music and a fantastic culinary scene are close behind. Drive east to the windswept barrier islands of the Outer Banks for coastal camping, wildlife watching, and outdoor adventures that tear across sea and sky. Charlotte, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh anchor the booming Central Piedmont.
The Blue Ridge Parkway passes overlooks, waterfalls, and campgrounds in the rugged High Country of western North Carolina as it swoops south from Virginia. Mount Mitchell State Park, Linville Gorge, and Grandfather Mountain are Instagram-pretty while hiking and mountain biking trails beg to be explored.
Stories about Cherokee leaders and 19th-century mountain families add historic context to the mountain-and-forest views in the deep-green Smokies. Feeling social? Hit the welcoming Nantahala Outdoor Center for all-sorts of wild adventures, from rafting to ziplining. The Appalachian Trail runs along the North Carolina and Tennessee border in the national park then veers south through Nantahala National Forest.
An easy detour from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville is a mountain town that’s going places. The craft beer situation is out of control—more than 30 breweries!—while innovative chefs keep the foodie scene abuzz. Chimney Rock State Park, Lake Lure, and gorgeous waterfalls are outdoor highlights in the foothills. Mountain bikers, get your fix in Pisgah National Forest.
Wind, water, and sunny skies set a mood for fun along the North Carolina Coast. For the best all-around beach scene head to the Outer Banks, a 100-mile stretch of rugged barrier islands marked by dunes, fishing piers, and wild horses. Try hang-gliding at Jockey’s Ridge, windsurfing off Hatteras Island, and parasailing and paddling in Corolla and Duck. For close-to-the-beach tent camping, drive south to Cape Hatteras National Seashore or ferry over to Ocracoke Island.
Yes, there are boondocking opportunities in North Carolina, particularly in national forests and on some private lands. The Pisgah National Forest and Nantahala National Forest offer dispersed camping options for boondockers. These sites are typically free of charge but have limited or no amenities. Additionally, you can find private landowners offering boondocking sites through platforms like Hipcamp. Some options include: - North Carolina Linville Boondockers RV Camp - North Carolina Tent or RV Camping - North Carolina Tent Camping and RV Remember to practice Leave No Trace principles and always check the specific regulations and requirements for the area where you plan to boondock.
Yes, you can camp in national forests in North Carolina. The state has four National Forests: Pisgah, Nantahala, Uwharrie, and Croatan. These forests offer a variety of camping options, including developed campgrounds, group campgrounds, and dispersed camping areas. You can find more information about camping in North Carolina's National Forests on Hipcamp.
No, it is not legal to camp anywhere in North Carolina. Camping is allowed only in designated campgrounds, national forests, and some state parks. Dispersed camping, which is camping in undesignated areas, is permitted in some national forests like Pisgah National Forest and Nantahala National Forest, but you must follow specific rules and guidelines. For a more private camping experience, you can explore options on Hipcamp, where you can find a variety of unique camping spots on private land. Always make sure to obtain permission from the landowner and follow local regulations before camping in undesignated areas.
The best months to camp in North Carolina are April, May, September, and October. These months offer mild temperatures, lower humidity, and beautiful scenery. Spring (April and May) brings blooming wildflowers and comfortable weather, while fall (September and October) features spectacular foliage and cooler temperatures. Summer months (June, July, and August) can be hot and humid, especially in the lower elevations, while winter (December, January, and February) can be quite cold, especially in the mountains. For more information on camping in North Carolina, check out these resources on Hipcamp and North Carolina State Parks.
Boondocking, or dispersed camping, is legal in North Carolina on certain public lands, such as national forests. The Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests offer numerous locations for boondocking, where you can camp for free without facilities or designated campsites. However, it's important to follow the specific rules and regulations for each area, such as staying within the designated camping zones and practicing Leave No Trace principles. Additionally, some private landowners on Hipcamp offer boondocking opportunities on their properties.
The best time of year to camp in the North Carolina mountains is during the fall, from late September to early November. This period offers mild temperatures, low humidity, and stunning fall foliage. The vibrant colors of the leaves create a picturesque backdrop for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Spring, from April to May, is another great time to camp in the NC mountains, with blooming wildflowers and comfortable temperatures. Popular camping destinations in the North Carolina mountains include Black Mountain and Banner Elk.