Greenville offers serene rivers, forest retreats, and access to barrier island beach camping.
Greenville, North Carolina (not to be confused with Greenville, South Carolina) is a leafy city close to the Pamlico Sound and Atlantic Coast. Surrounded by forest parks and seated on the banks of the Tar River, the town offers ample access to paddling, fishing, hiking, biking, and camping opportunities. It’s a 90-minute drive to Atlantic Ocean beach camping at Hammocks Beach State Park, and just a bit further to the barrier islands of the Crystal Coast and the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Whether you’re looking for a quick nature excursion from Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill or a scenic break from an I-95 road trip, Greenville makes for a great camping getaway.
Drive-up camping can be found right at River Park North, where paddlers using the Pamlico-Tar River Water Trail can access camping along the route. Even better, Greenville has rental shops right in town for easy kayaking or standup paddleboarding on the Tar River. The Greenville Greenway and the Bicycle Post Trails mountain biking area are two much-loved local trail systems as well.
You can paddle the Pamlico River and cruise the boardwalk around a swamp of cypress trees and Spanish moss just 45 minutes east of Greenville at Goose Creek State Park. The Goose Creek campground has both tent camping and RV camping sites with picnic tables, fire rings, restrooms, and showers.
Hammocks Beach State Park is an awesome beach park comprising three barrier islands on the Atlantic coast. The islands are accessible by ferry or paddling and feature coveted car-free beach camping.
The Cape Lookout National Seashore preserves 56 miles of Outer Banks islands with sandy beaches. Ferries to these islands launch out of Harkers Island and Beaufort, about two hours southeast of Greenville, and once on the stretch of sand, campers can pitch their tent in most island areas (with some exceptions). Surfing, swimming, shelling, fishing, crabbing, and clamming are popular activities—just don’t miss the park’s famous Shackleford Banks island, home to wild horses.
Greenville’s subtropical climate allows for camping year-round, though summer brings the warmest weather, biggest crowds, and most access. Many barrier island ferries do not operate in winter; for instance, the Cape Lookout National Seashore ferries tend to run from April to November only. Winter brings cold-weather camping anyway, with lows in the 30s and highs in the 50s.